Boston Bruins: Back to .500 hockey


The Boston Bruins are continuing to play .500 hockey. The Bruins will play to their strengths and engage in strong defense one game, and then throw the next one away. While it’s maddening for the fan base to watch this kind of hockey, it’s certainly taking an extra toll on the Bruins themselves.

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The frustration is setting in for the Bruins, who have yet to win two game in a row at home this season (currently 2-6-1 at the TD Garden). Some players have already begun to call out the ‘passengers’ on the team, and the locker room is taking on a feeling that is rare to see since the start of the Claude Julien era.

“It’s frustrating,” said a dejected Brad Marchand after the game. “I think we want to try to get on a roll here at home and … every time we get an opportunity to continue to improve on our game we take a step back. So we need a big day at practice tomorrow to get ready for the next game.”

“I think we all know this isn’t good enough,” said Claude Julien postgame. Once again, the media is calling for the head of the Bruins bench boss. “We all know that we need to be better. I think we have to take the responsibility of having to be better. There’s no excuse for tonight. We didn’t play well enough, and you can’t come out in the third and decide to play a little bit better.”

Claude’s right. There are no excuses here. The Bruins are once again under 71 percent on the penalty kill due to the B’s giving up two power play goals in 25 seconds to the San Jose Sharks. The Bruins made a sloppy line change which led to a too many men on the ice penalty, and then Ryan Spooner (who is once again) feeling the wrath of Claude, got called for a tripping penalty on Tomas Hertl.

Claude Julien is certainly baffled by the team’s performance.

“This playing once-in-a-while in games is just not going to cut it in this league,” continued the B’s head coach. “We have to deal with certain things that I plan on dealing with internally, but I’m certainly not going to start elaborating here. I think there are a lot of things that have to be better with our hockey club moving forward. In this league and with the team that we have, the record that we have is just not good enough. It needs to be better.”

So what things could he be dealing with ‘internally’?

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  • Shake up the defense. With Dennis Seidenberg‘s return to the ice, it looks like it’s time to send some of the ‘Miller Filler’ back to Providence.  Julien could easily move Trotman up to work with Zdeno Chara. Torey Krug gets paired up with Dennis Seidenberg. Whichever Miller survives (most likely Colin Miller at this point) gets paired up with Adam McQuaid.

    Put the performing lines back together. Claude Julien moved Brad Marchand to the third line for a reason. He wanted Marchand to show his leadership by developing a line and taking charge of it. While I can understand why Marchand wants to earn an ‘A’ on his chest, it’s more important to see him back on the line centered by Patrice Bergeron. Splitting up a well producing line to create two under performing lines won’t cut it, especially with a .500 club.

    Give Gus more games. Tuukka Rask is a Vezina winner. Vezina winners shouldn’t be stuggling playing .500 hockey themselves (In Rask’s case, he’s playing a sub-.500 game with his current 5-7-1 record). Vezina winners can’t be playing sub .900 hockey. Rask is currently riding a .890 save percentage. That’s not good enough for AHL hockey let alone a team that’s trying to prove it can still make the playoffs.

    The Bruins believed in Jonas Gustavsson so much they sent all their perspective candidates back to the AHL at the end of the preseason. His 3-1 record and .912 record is good enough that he should be seeing more games. Tuukka plays better once he gets angry. Just giving him another game after him letting in five goals will not foster the appropriate level of competition. Sitting him down for two games will.

    Claude Julien has got to be feeling the pressure of Cam Neely by now, and he knows he needs to make changes. The Bruins know it too, but for whatever reason have yet to be motivated enough to make it happen.