The Boston Bruins are going through what can only be called the traditional Boston team slump. The Patriots do it, the Celtics do it way too often recently, the Red Sox did it early last season, and now it’s the Bruins turn. They have played maddeningly inconsistent hockey. The Bruins are 4-3 for the month of January. Granted, the Bruins are still plagued by injuries on the squad, (Chris Kelly and Dougie Hamilton leading the injury roster) they’ve been their own worst enemy.
Now, they’re playing one of the toughest teams in all of professional hockey. Sunday afternoon, they’ll be taking on the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blackhawks have been having a rough time of it themselves recently. They are 3-1-4 in January, taking losses from teams like the New York Rangers and the New York Islanders. While the Blackhawks record looks worse than Boston’s this month, they are still a dangerous force to be reckoned with. They just took out the Anaheim Ducks tonight, 4-2. The Ducks won their last eighteen of nineteen games, and the Blackhawks overpowered and outplayed the finest team in the NHL.
So, what are we going to do against one of the best teams in the league? The Bruins have got to stay out of the penalty box. They absolutely have to. The Bruins penalty kill has been anemic of late. Boston has tumbled from the top five to end up in twelfth position. They’ve got to play to their brand of defensive minded hockey. (The brightspot in this is that the Blackhawks are near the bottom of the list when it comes to dealing with a man down.)
That’s right fellas, stay out of the freakin’ box! So, Dougie Hamilton(if you get to play)! No playing the puck from inside the box! Brad Marchand! No silly penalties that are caused more from your reputation than your actual acts. (Yea, that’s a tough one to ask for.) Adam McQuaid, you want to pummel the tar out of people, we get that. You got to curb that impulse as you’re pretty high up in the blue line rotation right now. Torey Krug, please play your man and not the puck. If all possible, stick hard on the backcheck too. (Without getting yourself two minutes in the sin bin.)
If the Bruins can do this, they will win. Every point is crucial, and the Bruins are still hanging on to a one point lead against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The game with the Blackhawks will be in the Madhouse on Madison, and NBC will be covering it. (So, get ready to hear at least thirty references to Sidney Crosby by Pierre McGuire. I swear that man’s obsession with Crosby is unhealthy.) The game will start at 12:30pm and a lot will be riding on this very important mid-season game.