Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Game day vs Nashville 10/21/09

So, heard any interesting Bruins news lately? Thank God they hand out programs before the games now, we'll need one tonight! No Lucic or Savard for the next four to six weeks. Kobasew is now deep in the woods of Minnesota. So that means the B's take the ice tonight with the likes of Paille, Sobotka, Marchand and Whitfield in the lineup. Oh joy! While I am looking forward to seeing what the kids can do, I was really hoping it wouldn't be under such dire circumstances.

So, with all this craziness going around, is it time to hit the panic button? Yes. And no. Obviously losing two key players like Savvy and Lucic is never a good thing. Any team that loses it's leading scorer is never better than when he's in the lineup. Ditto for losing your most fearsome physical presence. In the very short term, the B's may be able to overcome the loss of Savard easier than the loss of Lucic. Only reason I say that is because of the games the B's have coming up. Nashville tonight, and especially Philly tomorrow (In Philadelphia). Nashville frankly isn't a very good team. So their whole plan will be to attack attack attack. Play with an edge and try to outwork teams. No Looch on the ice limits Boston's ability to counter that. And Philly is one of the biggest, most physical teams in the league. They're off to a slow start, so they will look to bang their way out if it. Sobotka, Marchand and to a lesser extent are all game, but may not have the size to stand up to it.
The longer term cause for panic is clearly the loss of Savard. He's been the Bruins leading scorer the last three years, and was once again leading the pack. If he's out on the longer side of his estimated recovery, the B's could struggle mightily to score enough. We'll see what the new guys can chip in, but the bulk of that burden will fall on Krecji (who has yet to get untracked) and Bergeron.

But here is where I see a slight glimmer of hope among this doom and gloom. The Bruins biggest problem so far has been effort and lack of commitment. When slapped in the face by reality the way they have been (starting off with Chiarelli's trading of Kobasew, which was clearly meant as a wake up call), to losing two key forwards, sometimes teams rally around each other in that situation. At least in the short term, perhaps they can find within themselves that something extra. They may just be able to play above their heads a little, and hang in the race in the East long enough for the walking wounded to get healthy. Remember, finishing first overall isn't the goal. Just make the playoffs, and be healthy and playing well going into the tournament. Again, are the Bruins a better team than they were a few days ago? Hardly. But we're about to see what kind of character these guys have. If it's of a high enough quality, they may just be able to use this as a good thing. A rallying point that could turn their season around, as hard as that is to believe. And who knows? Maybe having a rested Lucic and Savard back in the line sometime in late November or December could pay off in the spring.

So there you have it, my best attempt at keeping the lid on the old panic button. Check back in a week or two, and I could have a totally different perspective.

What about tonight? Nashville comes in loser of their last five (one in OT) after winning their first two. Jason Arnott is out of the lineup,seriously limiting their offense....which has only scored a grand total of ten goals to begin with. In my mind, even with Boston in the condition it is, they should be able to play good enough D to scratch out a win tonight...possibly a lopsided win if the kids enthusiasm rubs off on the team as a whole.

Rough stuff preview:
Amazingly, the Preds have had only one fighting major this season, and it wasn't Jordin Tootoo. But with both teams desperately needing some positive mojo, I fully expect to see the gloves come off at least once. On the Nashville side, look for Tootoo to be the aggressor. He always is. Love him or hate him, you always get max effort from that guy. Sometimes he crosses the line, in which case someone will have to answer. He can not be allowed to run around and dictate pace to the Bruins. Settle him down early, and he WILL take a dumb retaliatory penalty at some point. Wade Belak is another guy that has been know to mix it up a bit. A veteran like him could see the opportunity of a hobbled Bruins team as just the right time to provide his mates a spark. And just for fun, maybe somebody will whack former Canadien Francis Boullion around just for old time's sake.
The question is, with Lucic out, and Thornton apparently ailing (missing the last two days of practice), who handles the rough stuff for the B's? Mark Stuart would be my guy to watch. Stuart is quietly establishing himself as a very solid veteran back there. I think he's one guy that will pick up the torch and move this thing forward. He's a young guy, but I see "quiet leader" in him, big time. He could be the one to dole out Tootoo's beating (if it's even possible to "win" against that guy.). and in the wishful thinking column, Chara had better make his presence felt out there. Doesn't have to be a fight....although I won't complain. But he HAS to start throwing people around and being the bully out there. Intimidation goes a long way in the NHL, and there is no more intimidating force in the league than a ticked off Chara.

I intentionally held off on posting my score prediction until the end today. As always, score predictions are always just what I "feel" at that moment. And while I've been typing, I've talked myself into a big B's win. I say, 5-1 Bruins. Sobotka, Chara, Bergeron, PAILLE and Wheeler all score for the good guys.
Step away from the panic button all,at least for a few days.
Go B's-Kynch

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