So here we are again. Right back to the spring of 2011. The Bruins were making their way to teh end of the season with so much doubt about what would happen once they got there. After the disappointment of losing to the Flyers in Game seven at home after leading 3-0 in the series as well as the game, how would they perform. There was tons of speculation that Coach Claude Julien would be fired should Boston not make it, AT LEAST, to the second round. And after dropping the first two playoff games of the year, at home, to hated rivals, Montreal Canadiens, not only was the handwriting on the wall, Gentle Giant movers had already been schedule to come to the TD and have the coaching staff and maybe even the General Manager shipped out immediately.

But, a funny thing happened on the way to the end of that years tournament. The ship was righted. Michael Ryder made a glove save, scored an OT goal. A puck glanced off Zdeno Chara’s skate, Nathan Horton scored an OT Goal, and lest we forget Tim Thomas. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup and not only saved the coaching staff, but MANY of the on ice jobs were rewarded with fantastic contracts, for THEM, not so good for the Bruins as they are now in Cap jail.

Which brings us to 2015 and with single digit games remaining, the home team finds themselves on the outside of the playoffs looking in and hoping they get help from others along the way. This was not the way this season was supposed to be played out. But if you’ve been paying attention all year, this team has been a Jekyll and Hyde masterpiece.
The Bruins began October with a mediocre 6-6 record and everyone thought, yeah, it’s early. They be OK. But you just knew that losing one of the core players of that 2011 team, Johnny Boychuk (traded to the New York Islanders before the season) would come back to haunt them. It did when Captain Zdeno Chara was lost for a number games to a knee injury, likewise David Krejci. November and January were Dr. Jekyll months as the Bruins had eight wins in 12 games in each of those months, while going 5-9 in December and a horrible Hyde-like 4-8 in February. Back to mediocre in March coming in so far with 6-7 after beating the Rangers at the TD Garden on Saturday. That win has them back in that eighth and final playoff spot as both Florida and Ottawa lost their games in overtime Saturday night and face each other Sunday.

Still no playoff spot is guaranteed as Boston is bunched up with the Senators and Panthers for final payoff spot. The Bruins still have two games to play against the Panthers which could decided the fate of either and they have to hope that the Sens have a collapse.

Two weeks to get things on the right track and look like the good Dr. Jekyll, otherwise Mr. Hyde could rear his ugly head and that would not be a good thing for the team and possibly coach and management!

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Bruins need to be consistent the rest of the way.

In what could have been, and almost was, essentially the end of the season, the Bruins entered this past three-game home stand on the brink of disaster.
Having failed miserably once again in a shootout on Thursday against the Calgary Flames, the Bruins sat seconds away from losing the first of back-to-back matinees to the Philadelphia Flyers. But they were rescued by a power-play, pulled-goalie tally and an overtime goal, both by Brad Marchand, which gave the Bruins three of a possible four points prior to the visit from the dangerous and talented Detroit Red Wings on Sunday afternoon.
The Bruins promptly came out and dispatched Detroit and put more distance between them and the ever-creeping-up Florida Panthers and the aforementioned Flyers.
It certainly hasn’t been easy for the Bruins. Coming out of the trade deadline acquiring Brett Connolly for draft picks and, in my mind, ridding themselves of Jordan Caron for veteran Maxime Talbot, the fandom had many questions. Among them: Why does Peter Chiarelli still has a job? Will he have a job come April? Likewise, should Boston fail to qualify to play in extra time at the NHL season’s end, will Claude Julien?
After losing six in a row, Boston has now been victorious in five of their last seven. But the road ahead for the Bruins is paved with potholes just like the ones we have on the streets of Boston. The Black and Gold have 11 of their remaining 17 games away from TD Garden and their road record is a mediocre 13-12-5. Nine of those games are against playoff teams and three are against the Florida Panthers, who trail Boston by four points for that final wild-card spot.
We never know what to expect from this team lately, but they had better get their act together because time is running out and they have foes, hot on their tail.


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Nothing Going Right for the Bruins

And the wheels keep coming off the wagon.
First, the players are always accountable and Friday in St. Louis, from goal on out, they were awful. Goaltending, defense, offense, nothing was there and that is all on the players. More on them later.
What bothered me more started Wednesday. After calling up Malcom Subban earlier in the week, every one knew, or thought they knew that he would make his NHL debut against the second worse team in the National Hockey League, the Edmonton Oilers, which would also coincide with giving Tuukka Rask an evening off, something he hasn’t had in what seems like forever. But no, Claude Julien chose to put Rask in net and what was supposed to be crucial two points for the Bruins, turned into one point and a loss, albeit a shootout loss for Rask. Something he is abysmal in and hates them.
Two days later Julien makes the brilliant decision to start the rookie Subban against one of the best teams in the league in their home building. After stopping three meek shots in the first period, the rookie let in a real softie, straight on, from the blue line, nobody in the path, off the glove and falls behind him and the flood gates were open as two more stoppable shots found their way to the back of the net. Three shots, three goals, enter Tuukka Rask. No rest for the weary, although he’s young enough and should not be weary!
Julien’s decision is mind boggling at best. Confidence starts when you have the best goaltending that you can have especially against better teams. To start what I think is the wrong goalie in the wrong games, shows lack of common sense. Earlier this year, Julien seemed to outfox himself when, he decided to play Niklas Svedberg against rival Montreal, because we all know the horrid record Rask has against the Canadiens. That didn’t work out either. Outcome be damned, you play your best against the best, and since Tuukka has been the best Bruin on the ice most of the year, it MUST be Rask to go against the better teams.
This was an important road trip for the Bruins and from beginning to end, it has been a disaster. A no show in Vancouver, a three goal lead dissolved in Calgary resulting in an overtime defeat, a shootout loss in Edmonton, and the blitzkrieg in St. Louis. Adding insult to injury is the fact that David Krejci went down with what looks like a knee injury.
Losers of seven of their last eight and a six game losing streak, and the trading deadline a bit more than a week away, the Bruins are as close to ruins as you can get. The Big Bad Presidents Trophy winning Bruins of last year, are more like cuddly Panda bear cubs following momma bear along playfully. Where are the leaders that are supposed to lead. Lots of emotionless players on the ice nightly and unsure of themselves.
As they head to Chicago to face the high octane of the Blackhawks, will it get any better? Currently they have a one point lead over the Florida Panthers, yes the Panthers, for the final playoff spot. Will they find a way to resurrect the game they played in January where they were just about unbeatable? Will Claude Julien continue with bizarre coaching decisions regarding the goaltending? Will management determine, with the trading deadline looming, whether they are buyers or sellers. It’s been a long time since we seen the Bruins as sellers, but what do they have of value that other teams covet? And with the salary cap situation they have put themselves in, can they wiggle around and get something of value or do they just blow it up. Sunday afternoon (Hockey Day in America) should give us a bit more insight as to where this team is going, but from these eyes, they won’t be going far even if they do stay in their precarious eight spot.


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The System is not working!

It’s “The System.” But just what is it?
To a man, if you ask the Boston Bruins what makes them a winning team, they will tell you it’s “the system.” If they play their system then everything works on the ice and they come out with two points on a nightly basis, sometimes rather impressively. But all too often this year, through 40 games (just about halfway through the season) they haven’t played that system.
The Bruins have had no identity this year. They have problems scoring, they have problems keeping the puck out of their net at crucial times and they have problems whenever it takes more than 60 minutes to decide a game. After this weekend’s overtime and shootout losses, it is apparent that there is no such thing as “winning time” for the Boston Bruins.
After Saturday’s overtime loss to Ottawa, Bruins coach Claude Julien said his team’s effort “was good enough” to win, but the result was not there.
“We’re not winning those and it’s frustrating for everybody,” he said.
Playing well enough to win and then going on to lose seems to be the only consistent thing the Bruins are achieving this season.
Sunday’s shootout loss to Carolina would certainly not fall into that category. It was flat out embarrassing from the start and Boston was lucky, fortunate, and thankful that they were playing the second-worst team in the National Hockey League. Still, Boston was outshot 14-4 in the first period and did not register a shot on goal until there were just over three minutes left in the opening stanza. They managed a mere two shots on former Bruin Anton Khudobin in the third. That is NOT playing well enough to win; that was surviving the Hurricanes.
We could have seen Sunday’s flop coming though. In the second part of back-to-backs this season, Boston has one win in seven contests.
Say what you want about Tuukka Rask, and there are many lunkheads out there suggesting that the Bruins should trade their netminder, but he has kept his team in numerous games, including both contests this weekend. Rask gave up two goals on Saturday and just one on Sunday in regulation, which should be enough to win in the NHL. But that is not the case when the guys in front of you can’t hit water if they fell out of a boat. Basic math tells you that you cannot win games if you cannot score goals — no matter who is tending goal.
So it appears that no system is working. No line changes, or lineup changes, have made a difference in the identity of this team halfway through the 2014-15 campaign. I’m not sure what management can do while they are so hamstrung with salary cap issues, but right now, they are far away from a playoff spot (currently sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference), and it doesn’t look like the winds of change are in the air.
Whatever system the Boston Bruins say works for them, they had better dump it quickly and latch on to a new one. Otherwise, they may be entering the Jack Eichel, Connor McDavid sweepstakes — a contest many thought (including the Bruins themselves) they would never be able to get into. But they’re closer we could have imagined.


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Bruins Trade Johnny Boychuk

“Johnny was upset. I was upset. I’m still upset.” The words from Boston Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli after he sent defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders for two second round draft picks in the 2015 draft. If he thinks he and Boychuk are upset, he should hear the loud boom from the people who buy all those Bruins 55 Jerseys and others.

Chiarelli’s hand was forced, basically by his own hand, and by the Salary Cap Jail he backed himself into by signing a lot of his players to long term rich deals, some with no movement clauses in those deals, and now they have no money to play with as this season opens Wednesday night when the Bruins host the Philadelphia Flyers. On top of that they still have the Jerome Iginla hangover hanging over their head, meaning all of those incentives that Iginla hit last year, now The Bruins have to pay the piper and that means even though Iginla is no longer here, those incentives, delayed as they are, count against this years Cap.

What does this mean? It means the Bruins have 3.36M more to play with and as Chiarelli said during his press conference Saturday at the TD Garden, when asked if another shoe could drop, “There might be. A lot of things can happen. See how the team gels.” He also said that “tonight is the final audition for a lot of players.”

Boychuk, the ever popular player with fans and his teammates earlier in training camp had expressed his desire to remain in Boston for the rest of his career and was hoping somehow some way that it could happen. But as we all knew, his stock in the National Hockey League was rising and fast. Chiarelli said he told Johnny that he was glad he brought him to Boston. That he did everything that he was told to do. He got better as a player. You were part of the fabric of the team.” But as we all know, in the words of Don Corleone, It’s not personal Johnny, It’s just business. As an unrestricted free agent after this year, he will probably command 5-to-6 million per season and Boston does not have that room and/or desire to pay him that kind of money, despite the fact that Brooks Orpik, someone I think is not even close in talent to Boychuk is getting from the Washington Capitals.

Now it’s time for Chiarelli to figure out who else goes and who stays and just how to use that Long Term Insurance waiver they still have with Marc Savard not available to play. Are the Bruins as good right now as they were Friday night? Chiarelli says the trade “doesn’t make us better now, obviously” but from the looks of things, there are more pieces to be displaced and fitted into this Bruins puzzle!



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Shawn Thornton.

Shawn Thornton will no longer be part of the Boston Bruins, as general manager Peter Chiarelli announced the team will not bring back the fan-favorite on Monday.

Since the news broke, it seems as though most people have put Thornton into the Bruins Hall of Fame — if not hockey’s ultimate Graceland in Toronto. Sure, he protected his teammates, fought the other team’s tough guys, and when his line was on the ice, its purpose was to inject some energy into the team. A lot of times it did just that.

But a lot of other times, it did not. A lot of times that fourth line was a detriment to the team, and unfortunately, that was pretty obvious in the opening minutes of Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s Eastern Conference Semifinal series. The “Merlot” line turned the puck over at center, couldn’t get it out the Bruins zone, and 2:18 into that game, the Habs scored and school was out.

Now before you start sending me death threats, I know no one would spend seven seasons with the Boston Bruins and get the love and adulation from the fans like Thornton did without doing some really good things — both on and off the ice. Nor do you have a 10-year NHL career, win two Stanley Cups with different teams, and donate your time, money, and energy to charity without being the kind of player, teammate and person that Shawn Thornton is.

But when the season was over, anyone who knows hockey knew that it was almost a foregone conclusion that Thornton, an unrestricted free agent, had played his last game with the Spoked-B on his chest. Thornton admitted he wasn’t surprised by the news shortly after it broke, and he still hopes to catch on and play for another team next season, feeling that he still can contribute. That may or may not happen for the 36-year-old Thornton.

But let’s all remember, Thornton was just an average player. Sure, he is someone that any team would like to have, but he is not a MUST HAVE player; not someone who, when your team is struggling in one form or another, you would go out and say, ‘who can we trade to get Shawn Thornton?’

Remember, everyone is replaceable, and no matter what kind of guy he was in the Bruins’ locker room, the object of any sport is to win.

Does Thornton put you in a position to win your last game of the season? No. And at times this past season, he actually hurt the club.

No one, including me, who has ever talked or interviewed Thornton would have anything bad to say about him. He’s a stand-up guy who bled black-and-gold for seven years, and did even more for the city off the ice.

But to say Thornton is a “special player,” or to put him on the same pedestal as other Bruin greats like Orr, Bourque or Neely (which some have done), in any way, shape or fashion, would be entirely improper, wrong and stupid



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Game Seven

This was an embarassing way to go out. Deciding game, and the Boston Bruins came out and laid a game seven egg in their own building before their shocked fans. The team that was on the ice in the first period resembled NOTHING like a Presidents Trophy Winner, nor a team that wanted to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing the Bruins did in the first period made you think that it was gonna work out and they would somehow come away with a win against the hated Habs. Chasing the lead in playoff hockey is losing hockey.

All season long, Boston has been better than any other team when they are playing five on five. Wednesday and really, this entire series, the Bruins looked like a team that was put together for a weekend over-30 tournament. The Canadiens used their speed and passing and sent the Bruins to a premature vacation. The “Best” team during the regular season was hardly that. Their was no intimidation factor, they couldn’t slow down the smaller, but oh so much quicker Canadien forwards. They could not resist taking stupid and ill-timed penalties. And last but certainly not least, they could not put the puck in the net. When Carey Price wasn’t standing up to most Bruins shots, the Bruins were shooting themselves in the foot with missed open nets, a dozen or so posts & crossbars and just not getting a shot at all.

In the end, it was what we thought it would be. A really bad matchup for the Boston Bruins. They couldn’t handle the speed and they seemed timid and jittery far too often, especially in the first period of game seven. Before the Bruins would register their first shot on net, less than three minutes into the game, Montreal would have the lead on a Dale Weiss netmouth tip in pass from playoff veteran Daniel Briere. Somehow, as early in the game as it was, you had a feeling that most of us had seen this bad movie way too many times, and once again, it was gonna end badly.

Bruins top line of David Krejc, (zero goals in playoffs), Milan Lucic, (an empty net goal) & Jerome Iginla were virtually invisible. In games 5-6-7, Lucic had 2 shots on goal, both coming in game six when the Bruins were shut out trying to eliminate Montreal. I would say Brad Marchand looked like an overwhelmed rookie, but he was pretty damn good his rookie year when Boston won it all. Marchand has not scored a goal in 20 playoff games dating back to last post season. He took too many penalties and like his teammates, he looked lost – a lot!
Everyone loves to blame the goaltender when things go wrong. Sure Tuukka Rask could have and NEEDS to be better when playoff time comes around, he was just OK. But this massive failure was a joint mission. A Team effort in frustration and disappointing expectations.

However, give the Canadiens full marks. They used the ever popular “disrespect” card and played it to the hilt. Not sure who was disrespecting them because everyone knows that when it comes to this heated and hated rivalry, there shouldn’t be any disrepect on either side. But the Habs played their game with speed, passing and not letting Boston get out of their own end and through the neutral zone. Montreal’s power play also played a big role is the Bruins demise. With the skill and cannon shots of PK Subban & Andre Markov on the points and perennial Bruin “killer” Tomas Vanek down low, the Habs had eight goals with the man advantage, (4 for Vanek) while the Bruins had 3. Montreal sacrificed the body blocking many Boston shots or deflecting passes, negating several potential threats.

So quickly it seems the Bruins season has come to an end with two round of playoffs left. There should have been more. So much will be said about the 2013-2014 Bruins and what will next years team look like. Which players have played their final game with the spoked B on their chest. Right now, it’s stunned silence-the anticipation of getting ready for the next game is gone. Time for summer. Next stop, Cape Cod!


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