Saturday, December 29, 2007

Can It Get Any Worse?

Yes, yes it can.

I swear, right now this team would get it's butt handed to it by last year's squad. They are playing that badly. Oh how I long for the days of old, when Bruins fans could look forward to a post season and hold their heads high. You know, like a month ago?

For me, the one thing worse than watching this team in free fall for the rest of the season would be if Chiarelli was forced into giving up one of my favorite Bruins. And in all likelihood it would be a quick fix that wouldn't work and a move that I and other fans will rue for years to come. So far Chiarelli has been pretty smart about his in-season moves. They have been crafty and sneaky, obtaining misfits like Bochenski for a little future, or exchanging players for a better fit like with the Stuart/Premeau deal. That one was particularly smart because Stuart wasn't going to stay on anyhow. Even the oft maligned Boyes for Wideman trade wasn't all that bad, assuming he can tie up Wideman long term, which should be one of his top priorities in the new year.

But I fear that Chiarelli is going to be pressured into giving up too much this time. When Kevin Paul Dupont speaks things tend to happen. In my opinion what he should be doing is shopping for a team that is looking to clear some cap space, perhaps in return for a prospect or draft picks. Maybe shopping players like Nokelainen, Sobotka or Reich. The problem with that is timing. If Chiarelli is going to do something about the current free fall (it's way past a mere slide now) then it's too soon to find a team looking to dump salary. I fear the result of a move now will spell disaster. If he trades Kessel, Axellson, Lucic, or Rask it will be giving up too much too soon. Axellson would be sorely missed on both ends of the ice and it is difficult to imagine a player(s) in return who could both fill that void and make such an impact that the the season could be saved. And Kessel, Lucic and Rask are the core of the team's future. Likewise I have great difficulty in imagining how the team would be better off next year without any of them--I don't care who you get today in return!

I say tie up Wideman and let the team suck if thats what is to be. Then use your cap space to make some free agent acquisitions over the summer to make the team better and hope that their experience will make them all the more hungry in the fall of 2008. And who knows--this team has surprised everyone with its character all year. They may dig their way out of this hole yet. Let's all hope Alberts and Ward get well soon!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Spin It Any Way You Want

Where do you start with last night's game against the Penguins? The way the NESN crew gushed about Crosby in the opening, or that given the B's place in the standings and how well they have played all season how little excitement they showed for the home team? The Crosby and Malkin show in the first period? Or the complete meltdown of the Bruins team defense? The not one, but two fights between Chara and and Laroque, or that for all the dancing they did nobody truly landed a punch? Crosby's first fight and Gordie Howe hat trick, or his disappearing act in the 3rd period? The Bruins fighting back from 4-0 to tie the game late in the 3rd, or the way the Penguins collapsed? The huge saves Tim Thomas made to keep the Bruins in the game, or that he allowed goals on the first two shots in the shootout?

It was interesting, exciting, entertaining and yet... flawed.

For me, one play stands out even above all that. It was the Crosby goal in the 1st period. He crashes the net with Chara all over him, even lifting his stick. Yet somehow he powers his way to the goal anyhow, gets hist stick away from Chara's, and tips the puck into the net off from one of the most perfect passes I have ever seen. I've never been a true believer in Crosby, what with all the hype and how young he still is. But I am now. That wasn't a highlight reel all-skill goal, yet it will be burned into my memory.

Someone else who really impressed me with his play was PJ Axelsson. PJ is the kind of player the less observant fans tend to overlook, usually making a quiet string of great little plays rather than a few big ones. He's really come along in the last month or so, often making the key clear on the PK, and his forechecking improves with every game. Last night he was a force and difference maker all over the ice.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Flyers Get Warning

From Another hit for Flyers:

The Flyers have been warned.

Another dangerous strike, another deliberate blow to the head of an opponent and more than just a player will be suspended. The NHL is prepared to take severe discipline against the franchise, such as a hefty fine, if another player needs to be punished for an illegal hit.

“Obviously, we’re under watch,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said.

It's about time they did something. But one might ask why it took five player suspensions for this team in just 25 games to get the league's attention.

Bruins Report by the Numbers

After 24 games here are some cold numbers to judge the Bruins by:

6th -- the Bruin's power ranking based on statistics by TSN. Yes--you read that right. The Bruins are ranked as the number 6 team in the NHL.

4th -- the Bruins ranking in points in the Eastern conference once the points are adjusted for games in hand. They are basically tied for 4th place with Carolina, New Jersey, and Montreal. They are 1 point behind Philly, 2 points behind the Rangers, and 5 points behind Ottawa.

95 -- the Bruins projected number of points at the end of the season based on performance to date. This would have been good enough for 6th place in the conference and a playoff berth last year.

8th - the Bruins ranking in winning percentage.

3rd - the Bruins ranking in winning percentage when being outshot (thanks to Timmy).

7-2-1 -- the Bruins home record this season.

25 -- the number of assists Marc Savard has, which leads the league.

0.936 -- Tim Thomas' save percentage, which leads the league. That comes to allowing 10 goals out of every 156 shots, or 1 goal out of every 16. Timmy is currently ranked 4th in goaltenders by TSN and is the 10th ranked player overall.

6th -- the TSN ranking of Chara among NHL defensemen. He is ranked behind Pronger, but ahead of Phaneuf. Chara is 9th in the league in penalty minutes with 56. He has 18 minor penalties, 2 fighting majors, and 1 10-minute misconduct.

3-- the number of game winning goals by Glen Metropilit and Chuck Kobasew. There are 6 players with 4, Brad Boyes among them, and Jeremy Roenick leads the league with 5.

8th -- Kobasew's rank in shot percentage, hitting the back of the net 22.7% of the time. He is ranked 14th in the league in goals. Sturm is ranked 16th.

10 -- the plus/minus rating of Kobasew and Sturm. There are 9 players with better ratings in the NHL.

11th -- the Bruins power play ranking.

Ok, they can't all be good. Here are some of the low numbers:

25th-- the Bruins ranking in faceoff win percentage.

28th -- the Bruins ranking in penalty kill percentage.

4th -- the Bruins ranking in short handed goals against.