Well my friends, things have felt a little dark around here at SCoC World Headquarters lately huh? Iginla-Gate has come and gone, "A 60 minute effort" has felt almost as mythical as Bigfoot or The Loch Ness Monster and we have not only lost to the Habs this week, but we couldnt put away the Flyers (the 14th place Flyers. A lot of talk has been had about when to press the panic button on this season. But let's all take a breath.
The Injury Bug Has Reared It's Ugly Head
When the Bruins hit the ice this year the roster was looking strong. The core from the Cup team was pretty much intact and minus the Chris Bourque era having a less than stellar start, things werent looking good. We have arguably one of the best top 6 in the league (on paper). The bottom 6 wasnt quite clicking but let's just blame that on the lockout and the asshole we have for an owner. (Oh, Bettman is a dillhole still) Since then we have lost, at different times, Boychuk, Kelly, and McQuaid to injuries and a revolving door on the 3rd line for wingers. Chemistry has been lacking in response to that.
The Defensive Pairings Have Been Suspect At Times
I wont go deep into this as Im all for giving credit where credit is due and TomServo42 wrote a great midseason article about the defense a couple weeks ago to which I will link. He is much brainier than I when it comes to advanced stats and he wrote this part better than I could. Suffice it to say, injuries have played a part in the revolving door in especially the 3rd pairing and it has shown. Johnson is a 7th defenseman. I think he thrives in that role. Not as an everyday player and we all love Alternate Captain Planet but he has lost a step. Hamilton will be a phenomenal defenseman eventually but there are times his inexperience at the NHL level shows. To read Servo's take click the link:
I could just end this section with "enough said" and you all would completely understand but let's delve into this quagmire a little further shall we? The Bruins are connecting at a 15.2% clip which is good enough for 23rd in the league. They are actually better in other teams' barns then at the Gahden, with a 19.6% PP% away to a measly 10.9% at home. The interesting thing about that breakdown is that they are even in terms of opportunities (46 each) so raw numbers arent skewed by less opportunities either way. We are dead last in the league in PP opportuinites as well (92). Now whether or not you want to make the argument that there is less pressure away than home (I mean who can really concentrate while the guy in Loge 5 Row 7 who is 8 beers into his evening is constantly yelling SHOOOOOOOOOOT) is up to you. Regardless, the PP sucks and has for years now.
The Northeast Division Is Better This Year
As much as we may not want to admit it, the rest of the division is catching us. That's not to say that we arent the best team top to bottom in the division, cause I believe we are. But with the exception of the circus that is rolling thru Buffalo right now, everyone else has stepped it up. I could say something nice about what Bergevin has done in MTL but A) that's not my style and B) Im more impressed with OTT and what they are doing up there as far as staying in the hunt with half of their roster it seeming in intensive care. Murray and Maclean have done a remarkable job with what is left in the cupboard and if the Sens stay as they are, I think Maclean should be on the short list for the Jack Adams. As far as TOR is concerned, Kadri is looking like the real deal, and Lupul, when he can stay on the ice, is making last year look like it wasnt an aberration. If they can get Kessel going consistently and some strong goaltending, this could finally be a legit playoff team. All of this is to say that there arent a lot of points to be had in the division right now and the Bruins at times have looked like they havent quite gotten that message.
I Thought You Said This Was A Support Group? Youre Doing A Great Job Depressing Me More....
Im getting to that, dear friend. i can understand your frustrations. Ive been there too. But let's step back from the cliff together and look at the big picture for a second. Yes, we have some issues but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Good news is that Chris Kelly is on the mend. And without getting into his contract, he is an anchor for us on the PK, a PK that is already #1 in the league and killing at 90.4% clip. He and Raptor Jesus have good chemistry when they are on and if we get another solid wing for them and we roll four strong lines. Which brings us to the reminder that The Dread Pirate Soderberg is on his way. Iginla? Fuck Iginla.
Boychuk is back and McQuaid is healing as well. I still think we need some help to solidfy that back end (Im still blowing the Keith Yandle horn and I dont care how much of a long shot it might be) but lets not forget, minus Kaberle, this is the back line that helped backstop us to a Cup in 2011. I dont think others around the league appreciate how good of a defenseman Seids is and Hamilton is gifted, regardless of his inexperience.
Our goaltending is stellar. Tuukka has had a couple of rough games recently but that is as much the team in front of him as it is him. As is, he is still 5th in wins and 3rd in GAA at JUST over 2G a game (2.02 to be exact). Rask's .922 SV% is nothing to balk at either. And Dobby is a great backup. Id be surprised if we were able to keep him next year and I think that he would be better served for his personal career to fight for a starting job somewhere. But we have had an embarrassment of riches in net for years now and there are people out there who forget that.
Do I think we could do more? Sure. If we could get a Jagr type for cheap Id say go for it. Or another top 6 forward with a scoring touch. Anything to shake up the HuLK line really.
When it comes down to it, we arent that far off. We have almost all the pieces there and we have Chia and Sea Bass upstairs calling the shots and they havent really done us wrong in the past and I dont see that changing anytime soon.
Like Sarah said, "The sun always rises and the Bruins will be ok."