Another spring has come and the Boston Bruins again fall into the age old spring slump they always seem to find themselves in. In an 82 game season, a slump like this would easily be counter acted knowing that March and April were pretty much buffer months before the post-season and the points you got in between were only important to seal the division and or a 4th place playoff spot. But this is not an 82 game season, this is a 48 game season where teams have been on all cylinders to take full advantage of the shortened schedule and the premium at which points come by.
The Boston Bruins sit 1 point out of 2nd place and at the top of the Northeast Division. They recently have had 2 chances to not only clinch their playoff spot but take back the division from the Montreal Canadiens. But right now it doesn’t seem like the Bruins are ready for the playoffs. Yes, they are hindered by injuries to their top line players and yes the jam packed schedule isn’t helping matters either, but a Bruins team that plays Bruins hockey needs a Bruins mentality. Look at the Ottawa Senators for example, they lost 2012 Norris Winner Erik Karlsson, star centre Jason Spezza, and for a stretch lost their starting goaltender Craig Anderson; but did this stop Ottawa? No, it didn’t. Ottawa banded together as a team, and every player stepped forward to make their contribution and to play together as a team. Rookies Mika Zibanejad, Patrick Wiercioch, Jakob Silfverberg, as well as Binghamton call ups Zack Smith, Colin Greening, and Erik Condra have all made major contributions to the teams offence and veteran leaders Daniel Alfredsson and Sergei Gonchar have kept this group together as they now sit 6th in the Eastern Conference with a 21-14-6 record and a +12 goal differential. The Boston Bruins need to take a page out of their divisional rivals book, right now their top line is barley producing and the main workload has been the Merlot Line, Chris Kelly, Rich Peverly, Kaspars Daugavins, and Jaromir Jagr have been handling the offensive workload. Milan Lucic has had 1 goal in the last 20 games, Nathan Horton and David Krejci are struggling to stay awake in the scoring and the team seems to be growing apart.
With the addition of Carl Soderberg to the line up, it must be said that this will not be the answer to the Bruins woes. The lines need to be changed, the alternate captains in Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly and temp alt. cap David Krejci as well as captain Zdeno Chara all need to step up and speak their voice to the team and get them to collectively pull their heads out of their rear-ends and play some Bruins hockey. So what line changes can be made? Well for starters, you give the top 6 spots to the guys who have been putting in the hardest work in the last 10 games; that includes the Merlot Line and Jarmoir Jagr.
Here is a propsal
Paille – Krejci – Jagr
Daugavins/Soderberg – Kelly – Seguin
Lucic – Peverly – Horton
Thornton – Campbell – Caron
Marchand – Krejci – Jagr
Soderberg – Bergeron – Seguin
Lucic – Kelly – Horton
Thornton / Daugavins – Campbell – Paille
Another major complaint about the Bruins right now, is the lack of defence. Okay, Seidenberg has made some pretty good stick plays and Matt Bartkowski is looking great in terms of play making and being an offence guy. But that is not what the Bruins need right now; the recent elimination so to speak of Dougie Hamilton has been hurting the team more than it’s been helping. The Bruins defence needs to be less worried about trying to create offence and more being pinch and high pressure kind of guys. For example, when the opposing team gets the puck in their defensive zone, the Bruins defence needs to step forward and hold down the line, if it means rotating a third forward high to completely hold it down, then do it. The only thing completely saving the Bruins defence from being burned is the play of Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, who cannot stop every shot taken on them, especially when the defence is allowing 20-30 shots in 2 periods.
Speaking of the goal tending, these two guys have really been trying their hardest to help carry this injured team and they deserve full marks and it’s awesome to hear Tuukka Rask’s name come up in Vezina talk. But these guys cannot carry a team in a 48 game season and especially not now when the Bruins are fighting to take back their division lead. To make matters worse, the Leafs and Senators are breathing heavily down the Bruins back and if they don’t kick it into high gear soon they could find themselves at the bottom of the T0p 8, left scratching their heads trying to figure out what the hell happened.