Zdeno Chara courtesy:yardbarker.com

Sharpshooting Needed In Boston

November has not been kind to your Boston Bruins. After jumping out of the gate with eight wins in its first ten games in October, the team has just two wins in six games since the calendar changed.

Injuries to defenseman Johnny Boychuk, centers David Krejci and Marc Savard have been factors in the team’s recent struggles but it appears the main culprit is the lack of shots on goal. During the month of November, the B’s have taken 177 shots at opponents’ nets while those same opponents have responded with 229 shots at Tim Thomas and Tuuka Rask. While Thomas continues to set the pace with a National Hockey League leading .957 save percentage, Rask has quietly moved up to 12th in the NHL with a .923 save percentage. The two puckstoppers are, undeniably, getting it done. The offense, however, has sputtered. Defenseman Zdeno Chara leads the black and gold with 43 shots but he has scored just 4 goals. Very disappointing for the man who wears the captain’s C, as the team’s leader, on his jersey. After Chara, there is a big drop off as winger/tough guy, Shawn Thornton is second with 34 shots on goal. Thornton is playing inspired hockey and has been a leader on and off the ice. He is a very adept puckhandler but his role is that of a defensive specialist. He is not known for his offensive production. Center Patrice Bergeron and winger Nathan Horton follow closely with only 32 shots each. Granted, Horton leads the club in scoring but he is averaging just 2.2 shots on goal per game, as is Bergeron. 

One of Wayne Gretzky’s favorite sayings was, “100% of the shots you don’t take, don’t go in…”

This coming week, the Bruins will have the opportunity to begin a new winning streak. Monday night, they take on the struggling New Jersey Devils. The Devils are in 14th place in the league’s eastern conference, having won five out of seventeen games thus far. New Jersey is currently without their captain and USA olympic hero, Zach Parise, who will miss several months due to a knee injury. The B’s defeated the Devils 4-1 on October 16, 2010 in New Jersey. Wednesday’s opponent, the New York Rangers have won two games in a row and are currently in 4th place in the eastern conference. They defeated a very young Edmonton Oilers team on Sunday 8-2 thanks in large part to forward Marian Gaborik’s hat trick. Center Brandon Dubinsky leads the Rangers in scoring with 10 goals and 5 assists while former Boston College Eagle Brian Boyle has 8 goals on the young season. The Rangers came away with a 3-2 win over the Bruins on October 23rd. Thursday will see the B’s faceoff against the Florida Panthers and old friend Dennis Wideman, who is tied with three teammates for the lead in team scoring with 10 points. The Panthers occupy 12th place in the eastern conference with 7 wins and 8 losses. The Cats started slowly but have been improving. Another Boston College alum, Marty Reasoner, is 5th in team scoring and fellow former Eagle, Scott Clemmensen has been serving as goaltender Tomas Vokoun’s backup. The Bruins will finish the week at home with a meeting versus the western conference’s number one team. The high octane Los Angeles Kings visit TD Garden which will be a tough test for the boys in black and gold. The Kings will be led by sophomore netminder, Jonathan Quick. The former University of Massachusetts Minuteman led the NHL in wins last season and is currently 2nd in wins with 10 and ranks 3rd in goals against average and save percentage. LA does not rely solely on their man between the pipes. Offensively, they are led by forwards Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar. The Boston College alumni week concludes with a visit from defensemen Rob Scuderi and Peter Harrold. Los Angeles has two superstars in the making in American olympic defenseman Jack Johnson and Canadian olympian Drew Doughty. Doughty could win the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman this season. He is arguably the best skating defenseman in the league and will be a force from the blue line for years to come.      

More shots equal more goals. That simple formula could have the Bruins righting the ship this week against some very strong competition. Doing so would restore the confidence that exuded from every Bruin in October.

Shawn Hutcheon can be followed on twitter by going to www.twitter.com/@shawnhutcheon. You can become his friend on facebook by going to www.facebook.com/shawnhutcheon.

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Tags: Anze Kopitar Boston Boston Bruins Boston College Brandon Dubinsky Brian Boyle Claude Julien David Krejci Dennis Wideman Drew Doughty Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers Jack Johnson Johnny Boychuk Jonathan Quick Justin Williams LA Los Angeles Kings Marc Savard Marian Gaborik Marty Reasoner Minuteman Nathan Horton National Hockey League New Jersey Devils New York Rangers NHL Norris Trophy Patrice Bergeron Peter Harrold Rob Scuderi Scott Clemmensen Shawn Thornton Tim Thomas Tomas Vokoun Tuukka Rask University Of Massachusetts Wayne Gretzky Zach Parise Zdeno Chara

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