Monday, February 23, 2009


Well, at least the fish were biting. That's about the only positive the Bruins can take from this lost weekend in Florida. How they can lose back to back games against the Panthers and the Lightning is beyond me. Although, if you look at the records over the last two months, Florida actually has a better record than Boston. Is that cause for concern? I sure think so. Is it cause to panic? No, it isn't. But, what is pushing me to the brink of panic is the way the B's are playing. Yes, last night the "energy" was there. Sure, they had a couple fights (not that Thornton's was much of a bout because he slipped and fell). And finally, Kessel scored. But to say Kess is out of his slump is premature. He had LOADS of scoring chances (admittedly a very good sign) that he failed to bury. Shades of last year's Kess, no?

The one player I'm most disappointed in is Lucic. This is a kid that always seemed to know when his team needed a spark. So he'd provide it with either a few huge hots or a well timed fight. Lately, he's done none of that. He has been largely invisible out there. And apparently, Julien's message of demoting him to the fourth line against Florida was on deaf ears. Because he was just as ineffective last night. So, the question is....why? How does he suddenly go from a wrecking ball type player, to a guy you never notice? I figure he either has to be hurt or he's just decided suddenly he's a skill player. I think it has to be that he's still nursing the injury he had around the All-Star break. Supposedly it was either a shoulder or a sternum. If it is a sternum injury, his lack of physical play is understandable. Now, if it's because he's starting to think he's a skill guy, I have some bad news for him. He may develop a bit more of a scoring touch as his career goes on. But he will never be a "smooth" player out there. For the time being, he needs to focus on banging bodies and creating space for himself, and more importantly, his line-mates. He has the slowest hands...and thought process of anyone I've seen in a long time. So Looch, I love ya, but lose the whole finesse idea and get back to being a wrecking ball. You're a border line NHL player as far as pure skill goes. If you play a hard, crash-bang physical style, you are an extremely important part of this very good team's success. The choice is yours.

The stunning part to this whole slump, and losing six of seven qualifies as major slump, is that, for all their talk of their great "chemistry"....they sure aren't playing like a team trying to convince their GM they have what it takes. With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, they sure aren't making Chiarelli's life any easier. Last year, Chilly stood pat at the deadline. Once the deadline passed, he addressed the team telling them "I believe in this room. I trust that this group can get it done". Does anyone believe that Chilly has that same trust today? Do you? I'm always the first to say "don't upset the chemistry". Because I do believe chemistry has more of an effect in hockey than any other sport. But I don't see a team that is playing for each other anymore. What was once the hallmark of this group, a mere couple months ago, is long gone. If they truly want to keep their team intact, they sure have a funny way of showing it. So, where does all this leave us/them? Washington is hot on their heals for first place in the Conference. They're relatively healthy, with all but Ryder back in action. So this is pretty much it. Can anyone now look at this team and believe that they can go deep in the playoffs without some sort of a shakeup? The Caps and Devils both would probably handle the B's easily in a playoff series (if Boston continues playing this poorly). But even some potential first round match-ups are concerning. Florida just proved they aren't intimidated. The Flyers also could prove to be a daunting task (despite their goaltending situation).

So, Chilly's hand is being forced. He now HAS to do *something*. Which of course, every other GM is aware of.....making it that much more difficult/expensive to accomplish. Thanks guys, way to screw yourselves in more than one way.
OK, so Chilly has to do something....but what? Huge splash, landing a Pronger, Lecavelier type name? Tinker with Tkachuck type rental? Make a couple of small moves, maybe a forward and a defenseman? Let's discuss, shall we?

The big splash approach: I'm still not sure this is the way to go. The price you'd have to pay for a Bouwmeester or Pronger type could get a bit crazy. I'm not sure that the benefit of them would off-set the loss of whatever you had to give up to get them. For now at least, I'd stay away from that kind of deal.

What of the "tinkering" then? I still think this is the way to go. A guy like Tkachuck, on paper would be a great call. He's go size, is great on the power play (and actually uses his size on the PP by camping in front) and I'm sure would love a chance to play in Boston. He could be had fairly cheap too, costing nothing more than draft picks I would assume. Certainly not a roster player. He's a guy I'd certainly keep an eye on. He could be here sooner rather than later.

Another guy I think that fits that mold, although a slightly different player, is Bill Guerin. Now, Guerin isn't the same player he was when he last wore the Spoked B. But he is still a pretty hard nosed guy with some skill. His work ethic hasn't wavered, despite playing on a terrible Islander team. I would also think he'd be invigorated by playing again for his home town team. With new management in place, he probably doesn't harbor any (ok, not much) ill will towards the front office.

On defense, since I don't like the Jay-Bo or Pronger approach (although I could easily be talked into Pronger, as long as the bidding war doesn't get TOO out of hand), I wouldn't mind seeing a guy like Filipe Kuba of the Senators. He's far from an elite defender....and isn't even really "elite" offensively. But he's a decent puck mover and if nothing else, is a good depth guy who could man a point on one of the PP units. I suspect his numbers would be much better if he played on a decent team.

I know Tomas Kaberle's name has been thrown around quite a bit too. But Leafs GM Brian Burke is on record as saying Kaberle isn't going anywhere unless he is "blown away" by an offer. And frankly, I don't think Kaberle is worth blowing anyone away for (same with his teammate Antropov....a big guy that plays very small)

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing the B's try to address their PP issues with some in house help. First step for me would be to call Johnny Boychuk back up. Boychuk, a defenseman leads all P-Bruins in scoring. Surely his 14G & 33A could be used on the B's pop-gun power play,right? I thought he looked decent in his brief time in Boston earlier this year too. Seems to me he's worth a shot, at least on a trial basis until the deadline. I'd hate to think they had a player in their organization already that can do the job of some guy they're trying to make a deal for.

The bottom line though, comes down to this; the players that have built this lead are all still on the roster. It is in their hands, and ability, to get the ship pointed in the right direction again. As they were piling up points at a ridiculous pace, I was screaming from the mountain tops that they would run into some rough patches along the way. And that's why building a big lead was so important. Well, that huge lead is down to seven points now. Time to get back to Bruin hockey. If these guys really do believe in themselves, and truly think of themselves as Cup contenders, they need to start showing it. HIT somebody. That would be a nice start. They're a much more effective team when they're dishing out punishment. They B's come home Tuesday to start a six game home stand. The time is now. Put up or shut up. If they don't, they'll be saying goodbye to a few of their friends by March 4th......and to the season by the end of April. Go B's-Kynch

1 comment:

  1. I read this almost everyday and it's good. This column was good but you MUST be pushing the panic button pretty hard if you think that New Jersey or Washington would kill us right now in a series. Let's take a quick look at both of those teams...Goaltending...I don't think anyone could argue we have the upper hand (even with Brodeur back..guy hasnt' played all year) Defense...I'll put Chara,Wideman,Ward,Stuart up against either of those teams top 4 anyday of the week. Sure our forwards are having a tough time scoring but I still think lines 1-4 we have the deepest team in the East. New Jersey is overrated...don't get me wrong, the record is there. Let's go through some quick numbers...11th in scoring, 14th on the Power Play, 15th Penalty Killing, Goaltending-10th GAA, 12th Save Percentage. Even with a slumping Bruins, when push comes to shove, they are far superior in every single category. NJ will be a first round bust...mark it down. The Capitals are a bit different although, if you shut down their first unit (Ovie,Semin,Backstrom), they are going to have a tough time winning a game. That's a steep steep task but Chara, Wideman/Ward in a playoff atmosphere at the Garden will get the job done. Take both hands off the Panic buttom (that you claim your not pushing) and watch the B's go 5-0-1 on this 6 game homestead with a convincing victory over Washington at home this Saturday 4-1.