Thursday, March 26, 2009

Hibernation continues

Just let me say thank you. Thank you very much to whoever the genius is that scheduled the Bruins for five consecutive days off in March. Brilliant. You mean to say there was no way to schedule ONE game this week? I know the NCAA Sweet 16 is in town now, but come on....I'm pretty sure a road game could have been worked in at some point this week.

The thing is, I'm not sure how much this unprecedented break hurts or helps them. On one hand, you hate to see them get stale at this point in the season. They finally turned in a good sixty-minute effort Sunday against the Devils. Now they have to sit and watch everyone else jockey for playoff position, while they gather dust. after a win like that, they'd all love to play again right away. It's a heck of a lot easier to carry momentum into a game a day or two later. But six days later? No chance. They're essentially starting from scratch.

Which may not be a bad thing. Maybe, just maybe, having a week off could work in their favor. Julien gave the team Monday off, which was well deserved after the tough New Jersey game. Tuesday, from the sounds of it, was a fairly normal work day (albeit with Krejci & Kobasew getting "maintenance" days off). Wednesday was another normal day, with Kobasew getting an additional "maintenance day" off (which may or may not mean he's banged up a bit. Julien knows Chucky is under sized for the way he plays, so he may just be being very cautious). Today's practice was voluntary, with most players staying off skates opting for off-ice workouts. I'm sure tomorrow they'll have a normal day-before-game practice before heading to Toronto.

Beyond the reasonable expectation that fresh legs for the stretch drive (only nine games left) will help, I think the mental break could be beneficial. Thankfully, they won that game Sunday. MUCH easier going into this layoff with a good taste in your mouth. Imagine how dreary it would be sitting around for a week dwelling on a big loss. Instead,the whole team gets to to rest and practice with a bit of that "swagger" they had earlier in the year. They were slumping badly prior to that game, and I don't believe one game ends a slump. But, it sure does help the attitude and confidence. And it's confidence that was the main culprit for the recent slide. Nice to have a week where you can refresh, and go undefeated.

Why else could the break be good for them? Because they're a very young team. And the long grinding NHL schedule seemed to clearly be wearing on a few of them. Namely, Krejci and Wheeler. Wheeler, especially, has never played so many games. He seemed to lose some jump of late, and I have to believe the time off will do him wonders. Krejci, while not limited in games to the extent Wheeler has been, has also suffered from fatigue I believe. But for Krejci, it's probably more mental fatigue than anything. Never has he been counted on to be a leader at this level. He's facing opposing teams this year, that are hell bent on slowing his line down. He's not last year's post-season surprise anymore. Being a known commodity, and legitimate offensive threat makes everything much harder. He's seemed to struggle a bit under that weight. Hopefully, and I believe it will, this time off allows him to clear his head and approach the game the way he did right out of training camp. If Krecji's line isn't productive, it will be a very short spring for the B's... Again.

In my biggest case of "pie-in-the-sky-not -how-it-works-in-the-real-world" mania ever, I'd love to think that mingling with all the former Bruins greats the other night will inspire them. OK, maybe consciously it won't, but hey, we can always pray that somewhere deep down, that good old "what it means to be a Bruin" attitude rubbed off on them a bit. Hell, maybe they all ran right home and watched "Original Six Series; The History Of The Boston Bruins" (available now wherever DVD's are sold). OK, OK, I know that most of them could care less about the history of the team. BUT, they must notice who gets the biggest fan reaction, don't they? Just watch the closing ceremony of the Old Garden and watch who the crowd goes craziest about. With the exception of Bobby Orr, the biggest ovations by far were for Stan Jonathan and Terry O'reilly. Yes, the game has changed. But, if the current B's get back to their Big Bad Bruins roots, as they had when they were piling up points earlier this year, they will be just fine. I honestly am starting to convince myself that this break in the schedule could go a long way towards that goal.

So, when I first sat down to type this rambling pile of nonsense I call a blog, I was definitely opposed to this ridiculous scheduling fluke. But the more I think (aka babble) about it, the more I think it isn't as bad as I had feared. I guess we'll find out starting this Saturday in Toronto. Go B's- Kynch

PS-In all seriousness, if you haven't picked up the History of the Bruins DVD yet, it is a must buy. It's worth it for the retirement ceremonies and "last hurrah" of the Old Garden alone.

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