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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Did you really think it wasn’t going to come to this. C’mon, Montreal – Boston in a playoff series that would have to be decided in seven games was imminent. There would be no other way. You knew by some maddening route, the Bruins would leave Bell Centre with their tales between their legs only this time it was kind of embarassing. Two ugly goals caused by really inexplicable plays by two Bruin defenseman. Rookie Kevan Miller cannot gather in a routine D-to-D behind the net pass which leads to the puck bouncing out in front of the net, too far for Tuukka Rask to poke it away and the Canadiens Lars Eller has an easy backhand tap in and a quick 1-0 lead. The Bruins would never recover. Especially after Zdeno Chara did pretty much nothing on a partial breakaway by Max Pacioretty who deposited the puck between the legs of Rask for a two goal deficit midway through the game. A power play and an empty netter, both by Tomas Vanek accounted for the 4-0 humiliation by the Habs in front of their delirious fans!

So for the ninth time in his Bruins coaching career, Claude Julien will lead his team to another seventh game in a playoff series. The Bruins are 4-4 with Julien at the helm. Three of those game seven wins, were in 2011, the year Boston won the Stanley Cup. Two of those went into overtime. As we know, anything can happen in seven game series. Especially after such disasters as game 6. But the Bruins and Tuukka are both cliche ridden in their responses to the notion that Montreal may have the momentum going into Wednesday’s ultimate tilt. “I don’t think it carries over game by game. As long as you regroup after a loss, it’s only a matter of how you handle it mentally and prepare for the next one. We’ll be ready for Game 7, for sure.” says Rask. They certainly didn’t seem ready for game 6, but rask added, “we thought we played a pretty solid game and gave them some gifts, and that’s it. We’ve got to clean it up and move on.”

One year ago, the team was just about dead in the water in game 7 against Toronto. They climbed back to make it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final. Recent history shows May 14 to be a not so nice day for the Bruins when it comes to game seven. May 14, 2009, Scott Walker scored in overtime and the Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Bruins 3-2 And On the same date in 2010, the Flyers made history with coming back from three games down and erasing a 3-0 deficit to beat the Bruins 4-3 in Game 7.

The Bruins Look to reverse that history on May 14, 2014.


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Despite the words of Bruins Coach Claude Julien, it was what we Bruins fan have come to expect. No nonsense, no backing off, give it all you got Boston Bruins hockey. They played their game. They hit them, and they hit them gain. They got their power play working scoring two of their four goals with the man advantage. Something they last did in the post season against the Habs in 2009. The coach had a “chat” after the first period about the manpower situation and he was happy with the results saying “our power play was due.” And after allowing 10 goals in the first three games of the series, new papa, Tuukka Rask has yielded but two in the last two games and both were Saturday night on the Montreal power play.
When asked about his team returning to their style of play, Julien said “I don’t think you can look at tonight and say all of a sudden we found our game. I think we were better tonight, but there’s another game to win and ….we know it’s not going to be easy.”
Against the Canadiens it’s never easy, especially at Bell Centre. But Saturday, you could see a sense of confidence in how they were playing. And they solved that early series brick wall Carey Price. Boston is one game away from their third Eastern Conference Final in four seasons.
Bruins kept the heat on Montreal not letting their speed get going. Slowing them down in the neutral zone and, until the final two minutes of the game when the Canadiens had pulled their goaltender giving them a two-man advantage, neutralizing P.K. Subban on the power play. Subban would eventually send a laser over the glove of a screened Rask late in the game which would account for the final score.
The Bruins kept pushing the Habs with their forechecking and hitting which caused Montreal to look lost on the ice, especially Tomas Plekanec who took three consecutive penalties of which Boston’s power play cashed in on two at the start of the second period. Reilly Smith on a redirection of Doug Hamilton’s high slot shot and Jerome Iginla one-timer, all alone in the low slot. Both goals sliding through the legs of Carey Price.
It was breathing room for Boston and their fans and even though Brendan Gallagher’s power play goal would make people think the Canadiens were back in the game, The Bruins would have none of it. Continuing the effort for the entire 60 minutes. There was no second period lull, no lets back off and let the Habs bring the game to us. Loui Eriksson would seal it, picking up a rebound of a Matt Fraser shot and putting by Price. Ericsson also assisted on Carl Soderberg’s first period goal which was his first NHL Playoff goal.
Lots of all around goodness as the Bruins head back up to Montreal for the chance to eliminate the Canadiens as the little guy lights the fire on the ice at pregame of the Bell Centre. No it won’t be easy, but we are looking for Boston to extinguish the Habs in game 6 as quickly and efficiently as they did in game 5.


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It wasn’t how it was drawn up, but somehow, the Boston Bruins came back from a 2-goal deficit in wild third period to beat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3 and even this best-of-seven series at a game a piece.

This has to be the year of the two goal lead evaporation. Saturday marked the 11th time this NHL post season in which the team with that goal margin would eventually lose the game.

It didn’t look like it was going to go that way for a while as Bruins killer Tomas Vanek twice tipped in shots from the other Bruins menace, P.K. Subban and it looked like 2011 all over again and Boston would be heading to Montreal’s Bell Centre Theatre trailing the Canadiens 2-0 in the series. But in this decade of comebacks on Causeway Street, the Bruins did not fade away. All season long they owned the third period and Saturday afternoon was no different.

Frustration for the Bruins and their fans had set in late in the second period after Boston was hit with a couple of roughing penalties that Claude Julien didn’t agree with and let the officials know about it with some salty language and it earned the Bruins a bench minor penalty just after Vanek’s first goal. The Bruins would survive that Montreal power play, but a Doug Hamilton interference penalty they would not as Vanek once again would tip home a Subban shot early in the third.

Julien was asked what it was like being down 3-1, I could hear guys saying was, ‘Hey, there’s lot of hockey left, let’s get that next goal here, let’s get going,’ and it was all about encouraging each other to be better. And you just do your job as a coach — change the lines, try to put the right people out there, and the rest, they took care of.

Many times in past playoffs, we Bruins fans have seen this movie far too often, especially when it involves that team north of the border. It used to end badly. But the resiliency of this team came through and started with Hamilton’s goal and the surge was on. “I just tried to join the rush, and I knew there was guys in front of me and just tried to get a good shot off, and didn’t really see where it went…nice to get stuff rolling”.

They rolled to the victory and for the time being solved the mystery of Carey Price who has been nothing short of sensational in the two games. But if he can’t see it, he can’t stop it. He is still looking for Hamilton’s shot as it went through a maze of players finally deflecting off a Montreal defenseman. Three of the Boston’s goals deflected off of a Canadien.

It seems a two goal lead is the kiss of death in these playoffs, but the Bruins will take it as they head to Montreal for games three & four with the series tied. A much more comfortable time than a two games deficit would have been.


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