By Michael Felger
Five thoughts on the Bruins following an alarmingly bad performance Saturday in Toronto:
1. So now you want to fire the coach?
Where were you 11 months ago, after the Bruins became the first NHL team in 35 years to blow a 3-0 series lead in their second-round playoff loss to Philadelphia? Where were you after they peed down their leg in Game Seven at the Garden? Where were you after Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli explained away that defeat by saying, hey, we're one of only five teams to make the second round two straight years, so why is everyone so upset?
I mean, really. If no one lost their job after that, you think it's going to happen after two bad weeks in March?
2. I'd wouldn't call what the Bruins have right now a goalie "controversy." That would connote two guys making a case to be the starter through their solid play. That would be a good thing. I would classify the Bruins' current situation in net as a goalie "thing," because neither Tim Thomas nor Tuukka Rask look like they deserve the job. That, obviously, is a bad thing.
If you ask me, Rask is the sharper guy right now, but that's not to say he's been foolproof. Even his good games include a clunker or two. He's just looked better than Thomas, who seems to have lost whatever mojo he had from his terrific first half. He's won just once this month and was yanked in the second period in Toronto. Only, that wasn't the end of Thomas' night, as Rask blew another gasket, yelling at defenseman Dennis Seidenberg for an apparent screen, and Thomas was back in to start the third. Julien said Thomas returned for the final period because he lobbied for it during an intermission conversation.
Whatever. The B's have a thing on their hands. The solution? Even though I think Rask is the better (or least bad) goalie right now, Thomas still deserves to play his way out of this. He's been too good for too long this season for the B's to give up on him. Yes, just a few weeks ago we were talking about how important it was to get him his
rest, but that was before this thing came up. Now it's time to play him. If he shows no signs of snapping out of it, then go to Rask.
3. The power play looks better with Tomas Kaberle -- but who gives a crap how it looks? The puck still isn't going into the net. The B's have scored just one power play goal in their last 29 chances, and that was when they had a 5-on-3 advantage. Otherwise, all we've seen is a bunch of passes from Kaberle to Chara at the point and a lot of blocked shots.
Kaberle sure can pass the puck, but if he's the true "puck moving defenseman'' the B's so desperately needed, then it has yet to show itself. It better materialize in the playoffs, or this team has no shot. In the meantime, Kaberle is 0-3-3 with a plus-4 as a Bruin.
4. Why did the Bruins trade a second-round pick for forward Chris Kelly again? Didn't they already have a couple of guys like that (Greg Campbell, Danielle Paille)? Didn't they have a need on the top two lines, not the bottom two?
The last thing we needed was for Julien to get another defensive-minded plugger. He loves those guys. He wraps them in his bosom and rolls them over the boards every fourth shift like it was their birthright. Then he treats them to ice cream after the game. He can't get enough of them.
This month, Kelly has one assist and is a minus-4. Yet check his ice time; it's around 15 minutes a night. Rain or shine. A perfect Julien guy.
5. All that said, I think the Bruins will be okay. Note: I said "okay." Not champions. In fact, I don't feel dramatically different about the Bruins after this seven-game stretch (1-3-3) than I did after their previous one (7-0).
They'll bounce back from this. Maybe it will be Thursday against the Canadiens. And, come the postseason, if they get the right matchups, they could make the Conference Finals. If they have a tough draw, they could be out in the first round. I felt this way in October and I felt this way in February. I feel it now.
I think most of you got way too ahead of yourselves a few weeks back. Take off the footy pajamas. The B's don't have a Top Four roster. When they're playing hard and the goaltending is there, they can beat most everyone in a regular-season setting. But they aren't a great team.
Don't you understand where we are, folks? Unless or until Cam Neely makes a major change to the core (players andor coaches), or until Tyler Seguin develops into a top 10 player in the league, we'll remain where we've been for three years:
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