It's actually pretty hilarious. The B's get off to a slow start to the 2009/2010 season and all of a sudden it's 2007 again. Ah, yes, the spring of 2007. The Bruins had no talent. According to many hockey pundits Chara had proven to be a waste of money. Savard was was a good setup man with nobody to set up and a lousy back checker to boot. Tim Thomas was a minor league journeyman goaltender who wasn't good enough technically to start in the NHL for a real team. Taken together, the team lacked the talent to score more than two goals per game. And so on. Of course, last season Chara won the Norris, Savard was in the top tier in points and developed a reputation for good back checking (+25), Thomas won the Vezina, and as a team they scored 270 goals and were second overall in the standings. Yet only a few months later I'm suddenly reading all the same things from 2007 again as if all of that was some sort of summer daydream.
Wow. Apparently Phil Kessel and Chuck Kobasew were the only reason the B's scored that many goals, and their superior defensive play made Timmy look way better than he really is. I say again, wow. Ok, so there is always some Boston "sports" fan who tunes in for the playoffs and two or three games each year who is going to comment on how the Bruins have no talent after a loss. And there is always the odd Habs fan in there too. But what really got me annoyed was this little video made after only seven games. I have no idea who Charlie Pierce is, but he's full of it. He claims that, "I watched them beat Detroit last year simply by outworking them and now they can work as hard as they can... they don't have any talent on this team." That doesn't even make consistent logical sense, much less reflect reality.
The Bruins have plenty of talent, even without Savard (injured), Kessel, and Kobasew. Their problem through game ten had been inconsistent effort. They failed to outwork other teams and failed to play physically. Last season, even with Savard and Lucic in the lineup, if the rest of the team failed to work hard and play physically they ended up losing. Hockey is after all the ultimate team sport. Compared to earlier on, I thought last night's game against New Jersey was a huge improvement. If they are going to lose a game, then that's the way to lose it. The team played hard all night long, won battle after battle along the boards, finished their checks, got up ice quickly, passed well, and made few mistakes. It's a shame they lost, but they could have just as easily come out the winner. Had the puck bounced the other way this nonsense I have been reading about how they don't have enough talent and how Thomas gave up soft goals would have likely been replaced by equally over-the-top praise. I also think the recent come from behind victories are good for the team. By the time the playoffs came along last year they had forgotten how to do that. Although they should not be digging these sorts of holes in the first place, learning to dig themselves out may come in very handy during the playoffs.
Now back to the Kobasew trade. It took a while, and I admit to being shocked by the move, but I finally got it. Not being privileged, I didn't realize how well Marchand had done in training camp. All I knew was that he was still playing with a spoked-P and I didn't give him much thought. But I see now that Chiarelli was sort of keeping Marchand in his back pocket. By moving Kobasew he was clearing space among the veterans to allow Marchand to come up. At the same time he was able to pick up Paille who at best has untapped potential, and at worst brings some grit to your third line. Far from pressing the panic button, this was a shrewd move on Chiarelli's part. I don't know how anyone could watch Marchand's play and claim he has no talent.
So am I worried about the Bruins? In a word: no.