Monday, January 25, 2010

Is This How it Ends?

What can you say about the 8 losses in the last 9 games? The Bruins actually played pretty well until very recently. They adopted a scrappier, faster game that created a lot more space and scoring chances. But most the time the puck still refused to go into the net--and lately every good scoring chance at the other end of the ice seems to result in a rush the other way and a goal. The fact is that if you can't consistently score more than two goals per game you aren't going to win a lot of them, particularly when your defense is stepping up in an effort to help. The last game against Carolina (on January 24th) was the final straw. Jack Edwards wanted to see some passion--and so did I-- but it didn't happen. They could have at least gone down fighting!

I had believed that after the Winter Classic the Bruins would go .500 until the Olympics. They have played like a team that was just getting by until the playoffs all year and I expected that to continue until all of the distractions were over. But this latest slide... it is starting to look like the end of this team as we know it.

So who's to blame? The GM for trading Kessel? The coaching staff? Too much success last season too soon? Is there someone poisoning the room?

The Thomas haters haven't wasted any time showing their hate again, claiming irrationally that the coach hasn't played Rask enough. What's wrong with those people anyhow? What ugly broken excuses for human beings they are. Anybody who isn't blinded by hate can see that Rask hasn't fared any better. One thing about Tim Thomas--if the team gives up in front of him he'll hang in there with the big saves in a game for only so long. After a while he gets "uninspired" by the play of the rest of the team and quits too. Some may fault him for that, but I say, "So what?" He's not the root cause of the problem.

We've got nine games to go before the Olympic break. They face the Caps, Canucks, Kings, Lightning and Panthers. They play the Sabers and Canadiens twice. The simple fact is that if they don't get a winning streak going before the break the season will be over. If that happens it's going to get really ugly. Julien may have to go, which would be a shame. And if you are thinking trade then think again--the only players who are truly trade able are the ones who are still playing their hearts out or have spent most the season injured, like Bergeron, Thomas, Rask, Chara, Stuart, Ference, or Savard. In other words, good luck trading Wideman (-12) or Wheeler (-8) for a good return!

I have watched nearly every game starting from the 2005/2006 season. That's almost 400 games. I have seen this team struggle. I have seen the rookies make mistakes and slowly come into their own. I have watched this team break out, and seen it run off the tracks in last year's playoffs. Throughout they have always improved. But now this season comes. Is this how it ends?

The next few weeks are going to determine if the Boston Bruins as we know them will survive intact.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Stick Salute

For several years now some NHL teams have borrowed a tradition from European Hockey: the stick salute. After a win the team skates out onto the ice and salutes the crowd by raising their sticks. I'm not sure how many teams have adopted this, but the Anaheim Ducks do it and so do the New York Rangers.

I think this is a classy thing to do. It shows a degree of humility and recognizes how the fans can make a difference in the game as they cheer their team on. I have wondered for some time if the stick salute would spread eventually even to the Bruins. After the overtime win in the Winter Classic I was struck by what I believe to be the very first Bruins stick salute. I wonder: was it planned ahead of time? Or did it happen spontaneously? Will it happen again?

Even though I like the salute, I do have to wonder if a team with so much tradition--one that has been around since 1924--needs to be adopting it, like some trendy new fad. Should the Bruins follow the lead of the New York Rangers? No! That leaves me somewhat on the fence.

I'd be interested in hearing what others think about the stick salute.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Magical Winter Classic

On New Year's day I spent the morning playing hockey outdoors with my kids. How cool is that? Afterward we settled in to watch the Bruins play in the Winter Classic. It was a fantastic, wonderful, and memorable day. As most people know the Bruins came from behind to tie in the final minutes and win in overtime. Seeing Tim Thomas selected to the US Olympic team afterward was very special to us. I only wish we could be in Boston for all of the festivities, but even so it was a very special and memorable day.