Bruins on lookout for secondary scoring

615564.jpg

Bruins on lookout for secondary scoring

BOSTON -- The Bruins solved some of their offensive problems with Claude Juliens line-juggling of a few days ago, but now a secondary problem has cropped up.

A secondary scoring problem, that is.

The Bruins have reaped each of their last six goals from David Krejci, Tyler Seguin or Milan Lucic. They have received exactly zero offense from any of the other three forward lines.

For a team that has always prided itself on overwhelming opponents with wave after wave of depth, the Bruins are top-heavy with their scoring and looking a lot more like the ordinary offenses around the NHL.

Once an opponent needs only to strangle one forward line offensively to hold down a team, they become much easier to stop and contain. Right now, the Bruins are too easy to bottle up and contain offensively, as they were in the 32 loss to the New York Islanders at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon.

Claude Julien attributed some of it to bad luck and some of it to the natural ebb and flow of the season, but also sent out a clarion call for some offensive production outside of the newly pimped out first line.

I think youd like to see a little bit more secondary scoring. But when youre missing guys like Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton, those are guys that, every game, have scoring chances, said Julien. So you just lost two of those, which really takes a lot away from your hockey club.

So you need to rely on guys to do a little bit more, and thats what were pushing our team to do here, is to try and spread out that scoring. We want to not have to put the pressure on the same guys night in, night out.

Patrice Bergeron has only scored goals in one of his last eight games, Brad Marchand scored goals in two of his last 11 games, Chris Kelly has one goal in his last 19 games and Benoit Pouliot has one goal in his last 24 games. The injuries and line-shuffling basically took three balanced, effective scoring lines and tore them asunder with little chance of joining them back together again before the postseason begins.

Lucic has been one of the guys producing for the Bruins as he did with a power play goal in the first period, but he said the most important thing to help the Black and Gold overcome their issues is to hold off on laying blame.

Thats easier said than done, and it will become a moot issue if some of the quiet secondary offensive forces can step up and make themselves heard with opportunity knocking like its Heavens Door.

Its difficult when key guys are out of the lineup. Weve had key guys out of the lineup in the past few seasons and its given an opportunity for other guys to step up, said Lucic. Were not pointing fingers at anyone. I think its a group effort. Everyone has to step up a little bit more and do a little bit more to try to fill that void.

As the Bs power forward said, its time for every member of the Bruins to step up and provide that essential secondary scoring because it appears theres going to be whole lot of Lane MacDermid, Jordan Caron and Michael Hutchinson over the next few weeks.

Steelers descending into disarray?

Steelers descending into disarray?

Less than 48 hours removed from openly wondering if the AFC Championship Game stage was “too big” for some of his young teammates, Ben Roethlisberger has decided to play the latter-day Hamlet/Brett Favre game.

Speaking on Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan on Tuesday, Roethlisberger hinted at retirement.

“I’m going to take this offseason to evaluate, to consider all options,” Roethlisberger said. “To consider health, and family and things like that and just kind of take some time away to evaluate next season, if there’s going to be a next season. All those things. I think at this point in my career, at my age, that’s the prudent and smart thing to do every year.”

The soon-to-be-35-year-old Roethlisberger is a likely Hall of Famer who’s still arguably one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL. But for whatever reason, he’s got an insatiable need for people to register concern about his status. Whether it be limping around the field, lamenting injuries or this, few quarterbacks in the league go through the same histrionics Roethlisberger does in order to get those, “Attaboy, Ben!” backslaps.

I remember being at Steelers training camp in 2009 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and having veteran Steelers writers roll their eyes as Roethlisberger started hopping around like he was on hot coals after a throw. The quarterback having an owie act was a daily tradition.

Roethlisberger’s also got a passive aggressive side in which he’ll deftly twist the knife on coaches and teammates but leave himself enough room for plausible deniability.

In addition to openly wondering if his young teammates took the AFC Championship Game seriously enough, Roethlisberger gave the “just running the plays as I’m told” answer when asked about the Steelers resistance to running a quarterback sneak when they were at the Patriots goal line before halftime. Roethlisberger could have taken offensive coordinator Todd Haley off the hook there – he’s lobbied for Haley to get a head coaching shot after the two had a bad relationship when Haley arrived. But he opted not to.

Similarly, earlier this year, Roethlisberger’s critiques of the way head coach Mike Tomlin was running the team were aired. 

So, this could be part of a Roethlisberger power play aimed at the Steelers bowing to his wishes.

That wasn’t the only tidbit from Pittsburgh that looked bad for the AFC finalists. Linebacker Bud Dupree said the Steelers were surprised by the Patriots using an up-tempo offense earlier in the game. 

Do they not have electricity or internet access in the Steelers facility? Up-tempo is a staple part of the Patriots offensive diet. You can see it on the television or the internet through your smart phone.

While there’s no doubt that defensive coordinator Keith Butler – and defensive minded head coach Tomlin – were aware and talked about the Patriots going no-huddle, the fact Dupree (and his teammates) were unable to recall the preparation or adequately fall into an emergency plan to address it does fall on the coaches.

Need more? It’s also being leaked out of the building that Antonio Brown cares too much about his statistics. He made clear last week how much he cares about advancing his personal brand at the expense of Tomlin and the team with his Facebook Live video. 

If there’s an upside for anyone in all this, it would have to be Joey Porter. Nobody’s even talking about his off-field fracas anymore.

As this season ably demonstrated, the Patriots have plum run out of authentic rivals in the AFC. That the team they just pulverized is steamrolling into an offseason of dysfunction and uncertainty isn't good if you like parity. But it's terrific if you couldn't care less.