Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have a dream that one day, all professional athletes will "get" clock management.

I have a dream, that in rinks across America,well paid, highly skilled hockey players will not stare at an open net and be seduced by the prospect of an "easy goal".

I have a dream, that when the other team pulls their goalie, while on a power play, that the defenseman many are calling Norris caliber will not try to skate the puck out his own zone, but rather just clear it the length of the ice.

I have a dream, that two of the top skill guys on the Bruins will either be able to hit a wide open empty net, or know enough to just eat the puck to allow time to expire.

I have a dream, that after rallying from a 2-1 deficit by scoring 3 goals in a minute and a half, that the top team in the East won't allow 2 goals in the final minute and a half of the game.

I have a dream that Claude Julien never put PJ Axelsson in the shootout again.

I have a dream, that barring Julien not giving him another chance, that Axe actually comes up with another move on the shootout.

I have a dream, lastly, that, the Bruins start to get healthy again so they can actually dress an NHL line-up for the rest of the season.

Of all the dreams I have, the B's returning to health is the most likely, and probably the most important. Perhaps, just perhaps, if the B's weren't so ravaged by injuries most of the above situations wouldn't have come into play. I'm not one for excuse making, because as Mike Milbury said, the B's had enough talent on the ice yesterday to beat the St. Louis Blues. But a funny thing happened. The Blues beat the Bruins at their own game. They worked hard. They forechecked (A constant source of trouble for the B's, hard forechecking teams have given them fits all season). They never gave up hope, even when it looked like they blew their last best chance for the win. The Blues, despite this huge win, aren't going anywhere this year. But this should go a long way towards boosting their team confidence, and serve as a great teaching tool for the coaching staff. The question now becomes, what lessons id the Bruins learn? For a moment, it looked like the Black & Gold was going to pull off their customary rally and win another game they probably didn't deserve to. But once they got the 2 goal lead, they sat back. And the Blues, to their credit, came at them with everything they had. The most distressing part of the "collapse" was who made the big mistakes. Chara had a chance to clear the puck before the Blues third goal. But he muffed it, and only got it to the blue line, not out. Then Wideman, the one many are saying is Boston's best D-man, decides to skate the puck out of harms way instead of firing it the length of the ice. Moments later, it's 4-3 and St. Louis smells blood in the water. But surely the Bruins, the top team in the Eastern Conference will be able to protect the one goal lead for a minute twenty, right? Well, no. They hung on for a minute nineteen and change. But it wasn't for a lack of opportunity to ice the game. The B's had PLENTY of chances to bleed the clock dry. First Wheeler couldn't handle a puck along the left wall, allowing St. Louis to remain in the zone.Seconds later, Wheeler got beat to a loose puck along the boards by Jackman (much tougher play, but Wheels could/should have eliminated Jackman at least causing a scrum). Just a few seconds after THAT, Ryder was able to clear the puck, sending Wheeler on a break down the right wing. Wheels made a good decision in making sure he crossed the red line before shooting at the empty net. But then, "IT" happened again. As any of you have read this space previously know, I've often blasted Wheeler for not "bearing down" and "burying" chances. Well, his shot at the empty net was as lazy as they get (well, maybe not, ut we'll get to that later). He casually flicked the puck towards goal, assuming he had the easy lay up. As we know, the shot just missed off the left post. No problem, the rebound went directly to Krejci positioned at the top of the left face off circle. With only 19 seconds left on the clock, all he has to do is A)rip it into the empty net or B)carry into the corner and eat it. If he had a clean shot at the net, shooting from there is an easy call. But he didn't. Two Blues stood between him and the net. He got it past the first one (who was standing on the face off dot attempting the block), but he wasn't able to get it past the terrific game saving block by Barret Jackman. I give tons of credit to Jackman for that play. He did a great job of giving his team that one last chance. But that still doesn't excuse Wheeler and Krejci. Wheeler should have hit the net. Krejci probably shouldn't have even shot it. With so little time on the clock, the wise play is to milk it and escape with the two points. Forget padding your stats with an empty netter. But, that didn't happen and St. Louis came down the ice and got the benefit, I think, of a fairly generous allowed goal call. It appeared to me that the puck was batted in with a high stick. But it was close enough that whatever was called on the ice, would probably stand up under review. Again, I think it was a high stick. But it shouldn't have ever gotten to that point. The over time was sort of a whole lot of nothing. Bruins had 2 shots during the extra session, the Blues had none. So, it would come down to the shootout. Here we go again. Wheeler was first up and made a great move. He cleanly beat Mason and had a huge opening on the right side to bury the puck. But alas, this is Blake Wheeler we're talking about. The move was great, but again, he failed to bear down and bury the shot. He just casually slid the puck at the net, and caught the right post. No goal. Next up for the good guys? Krejci? Ryder? Savard? Friggin' Sobotka, Wideman, St. Pierre......??? Nope, well known defensive specialist Pj Axelsson. He of the one shoot out move. Predictably, he did it again. Swing wide right, come across the crease and jam on the brakes, trying to backhand it short side high. Yes, it worked to great effect once for a SO win earlier this year. But every time he's tried it since, he hasn't been able to roof the puck. And that move depends on roofing it, not just getting it barely off the ice. It's not, by any means, an easy move to pull off. But that's the point. Why put a player out there, not known for his great offensive skills, to try such a difficult shot? Julien has to know PJ is going to go back to that one....it apparently is the only thing he knows how to do in the SO. So why not put a more versatile offensive player out there? I know they're very short handed right now, and guys like Kessel, Bergeron and Sturm would be your first choice. But you can't tell me there were no better options than Axe in that situation.

All in all, the B's lost a game at the very end that they never deserved to win anyway. Yet another sluggish performance in a matinee. They better figure out what needs to be changed in their pre-game routine quick, because they play a ton of Saturday afternoon affairs from here on out. The good news is, they should be getting a lot of their walking wounded back after the All-Star break. Judging the play of the team recently is tough, with so many spare parts playing big roles. But it's the regulars in the lineup that really let them down yesterday. And it won't be any easier in Toronto tomorrow. You can be sure the Leafs saw how hard work by the Blues resulted in a W. Bet the ranch that the already hard working Leafs bring their "A" effort Wednesday night. But also bet everything that the Bruins bring twice the effort. All in all, it could be a very entertaining game up in TO. At least that is my dream. Go B's-Kynch


  1. "I have a dream that Claude Julien never put PJ Axelsson in the shootout again."

    Can I get an amen?

  2. Maybe Bruins fans will wake up from their dream and realize that Thomas isn't the calibre of goalie that will carry them through the playoffs. However, for the benefit of the Habs..go on dreaming!

    Kynch..I hope that you don't mind but I used one of your quotes in my recent article about Thomas (with full recognition, of course!) Guess I owe you another cookie!


  3. My Dear old friend Kynch,

    I too have a dream that you will drop your love of the status quo and support Mr. Chilly as he must do what is necessary to secure a long and successful playoff run. Don't fall in love with individual players on the roster at the expense of overall team performance young man. I got a lot of grief for trading Pit Martin but look what it got us.

    Milt Schmidt

  4. Rocket! WTF!? And you were doing so well too! Ugh... Ok lets dance! You're (& all of Les Hab's Nation in fact)continued bashing of Tim Thomas blows me away and has ZERO MERIT beyond just trash talking, which by the way I know your All Habs Blog has many times condemned this and other Bruins Blogs for being guilty of. So rather than take the cheap, low bridge route aka "The Komisarek Way" I'll simply put forth the following which COMBINES the most important goalie related stats for all of the 07'/08' regular season & the 08'/09' season to date

    Goalie A-
    GP: 85
    W-L-T record: 47-24-10
    GA: 2.25
    Save %: .927

    Goalie B-
    GP: 67
    W-L-T record: 40-16-8
    GAA: 2.42
    Save %: .920

    So who's been the "better" goalie stat wise? Looks to me like Goalie A has the slight stat advantage overall but that Goalie B has it in the overall W-L-T record catagory... However Goalie A has played in 18 more games so that edge is there as well despite playing him having to play 18 more games Goalie A is a strong .25 less GAA average per GAME than Goalie B which when you add up over the course of a full 82 game season equals to a total of 21 less goals against, which when you then take into consideration the current league average of GAA is 2.78 per game. Knowing that then I'd think you'd agree that it would safe than to say that those 21 less goals that Goalie A would have given up would translate into total of 7.5 additional WINS over an 82 game season by that Goalie A's team! It's all simple math really...

    By the way if you haven't guessed already Goalie A is Tim Thomas and Goalie B is Carey "The Messiah" Price... Sorry my Canuck Brother but Stats Don't Lie - Hab's Fans Do!

    Here We Go Broouze! Here We Go!

  5. KingKrej46,

    I have only one really important thing that will make the Goalie "A" and Goalie "B" debate swing in the Canadiens favour, age difference!

    You are comparing the 34 year old Tim Thomas who has peaked and hit his "Gumby" skill set best to the 21 year old Carey Price who hasn't even come close to hitting his full potential yet.

    Let's re-visit the goalie "A" and "B" debate in a few years and I can guarantee you that it won't even be close!!

  6. Habster! Totally valid point on the age factor & I get it. However we're talking about this window of opportunity to win a Cup not the next 4-6 years which may prove your point. HOWEVER if we look the debate within the context of today being a 3 year window (last season, this season & even next...)Even a hardcore Habs Man like yourself have to admit that Thomas has outplayed the much more vaunted Price over the last full season and with Thomas in net the Bruins appear to better suited for a deeper Cup run than Montreal & Price who still hasn't proven he can play in the postseason and handle the intense pressure cooker up there.

    Granted ALOT of things can happen between now and June between these two teams like injuries, trades and other unforseen developments but one thing we do know is that for every high level Drydenesque' hopeful there's at least 4 other Andrew Raycroft's & Jim Carey's who as young players had good to great early success only to flamed out within a season or two. I think a best example because it's the best "Pomme to Pomme" comparsion (like that bit of Quebecois' flair by the way :-) to Price would be your former Messiah Jose Theodore, who as you well remember won both the Hart & Vezina Trophy's & was named to his 1st All Star game in 2002 but didn't capture either the Conn Smythe or Stanley in his time up there and is now working with his third NHL team.

    Again my point with the whole Goalie A vs Goalie B angle and retort to Rocket's post was to underscore and try and understand the seemingly constant dismissal of Tim Thomas' play and the huge impact he's had on the Bruins since arriving here which even after all the hard and true statistical evidence I can only figure that Hab's Nation just doesn't visually "like" his non-butterfly, non-traditional "style" of tending which is just plain NONSENSE. The #1 job of a Goalie - STOP THE PUCK which Thomas has done better than 99% of the NHL over the last calander year regardless if he was 34, 52 or 21 years old. I guess we'll see...

    Have fun up there this weekend & we're looking forward to a go show (even with the four non-deserving Habs on the Eastern Roster!)

    Give my best to Mr. Hurley & enjoy the Pints too!

  7. I have to agree with about the Bruins being better suited to make a deeper playoff run than the Habs.....at least at this stage of the season.

    The Bruins have more grit especially at the forward position.Hopefully Gainey will address this deficiency with a Mike Grier or Ian Laperriere type of player at the trade deadline.

    It will be interesting to see if the Bruins and Habs get into a bidding war to obtain Jay Bouwmester on March 4th

    As you mentioned, there is a lot of race track still to run plus other factors (injuries, deadline deals,,,,etc) to consider.

    My concern isn't goaltending or offense but the Canadiens blueline depth leaves something to be desired.

    Anyhow, take care and cheers!!!

    P.S- My son and I will be attending the All-Star skills competition.....it should be fun to watch Tim "Gumby" Thomas twist like a pretzel against Alex Kovalev and the rest of the NHL sharp shooters