Boston Bruins, Believing in the Future

 

First, before discussing the future a declaration on the recent past: We are 2011 Stanley Cup Champions! I say ‘We’ because as long time Bruins fans, this is a collective accomplishment, Right? But really, we fans (long-suffering or new band-wagoners) didn’t have a lot to do with this accomplishment other than wanting to Believe the team could do it. So thanks for the memories. But now, can we believe in the future? This is an even more important question for the casual fan, those that jumped on the band-wagon for the Bruins’ incredible 2011 playoff ride.

Gregory Campbell with Stanley Cup

(Icon SMI)

Let’s take a look at what just happened and if being a Bruins’ fan has a future.

The Business

As fans we sometimes forget that a professional sports team is a business. A private business. It’s not a business to start-up to make a profit but rather a hobby for millionaires or billionaires to break even or make a small profit while the value of the franchise increases. We have a choice whether we want to invest (cheer) in this business. The question is ‘Is the business well run?’  Based on a Forbes review in 2010 the Bruins franchise was valued at $302 million, 5th overall in the NHL. In 2009 Forbes reported revenue was $100 million with operating income of $12 million, 6th overall in the NHL where many franchises are in a financial suicide watch. The success of the 2010-2011 season has significantly solidified this financial strength (more on that later). The NHL reported 40 consecutive home sell outs of 17,565 for the Bruins this past regular season (remember the Bruins started the season overseas October 9th, attendance 15,299). This represents maximum primary revenue in ticket sales and with success the best time for an increase in ticket prices. There must be something good about the product on the ice. It’s good business to provide a product people want, especially in an economic environment where non-essential  entertainment products are risky business. There is a psychological element here. When times are tough it’s nice (psychologically therapeutic) to associate oneself with success. Now why is financial stability important as a fan?  Just ask the fans of Atlanta or Winnipeg or Quebec City or Hartford etc., etc., etc.

Now in assessing a business you want to invest in (and let’s face it the emotional investment in cheering for a professional sport team is significant, maybe more significant in many ways to the monetary investment) a smart investor will look not only at the product and financial stability but at the ownership, the management, the philosophy, and the future.

The Ownership

The Jacobs ownership has been stable for the past 30 years (there have been times when fans thought this to be a bad thing, calling for change). Jacobs has always run the team with fiscal responsibility. It’s nice to have a billionaire owning the team. No worries about paying the bills. But he didn’t become and remain a billionaire by throwing money away. In the salary cap NHL Jacobs has not restricted his management team from putting a quality product on the ice. The Jacobs ownership stability is reinforced by Jacobs Senior’s commitment to professional hockey as the Chairman of the NHL Board of Governors and Jacobs Junior’s involvement in the hockey operation. It’s time to give proper congratulations and credit to the Jacobs family.

The Management

There is no indication or reason to imagine change in the management team of the Bruins. President Neely, General Manager Chiarelli and Coach Julien have been successful. Most important in looking at this management team’s success is their consistency in philosophy. They are on the same page. They are consistent at all levels. They walk the talk. In business terms: they say what they are going to do, then they do what they say. The Bruins hockey Philosophy is to be hard-hitting defence first, balanced scoring, everyone contribute, work hard, stay within one’s abilities and win as a team. President Neely epitomized this philosophy as a player. Chiarelli obtains players that fit the mould and Julien coaches based on this style of play. Not only is this the team philosophy but it translates through this management team to be a Bruins player profile and an entertaining product. This has created a strong team identity. Ownership has mandated management to win as a cap team. Win being the operative word here. Player contract terms and length are reasonable. The Bruins are well below the cap of $64 million for next season, sitting around $57 million. But they aren’t spending foolishly this offseason. Rather they plan for future free agency and a new CBA. Wisely they also know having flexibility come trade deadline can better fill the needs next February than overspending now. This is a strong young core group of players that managed properly will be competitive for many years. We can’t expect a Stanley Cup every year but this management has given the team a chance going forward. A lot of non-controllable variables come into play during an 82 game season and the required 16 post-season wins but right now there are 29 other teams who would like to be in the Bruins’ position. They would love: to be defending Champs with 90% of their roster returning (some turnover is good, in fact business practice will tell you a 10% annual turnover is considered ideal); have $7 million in cap room; have the best goalie tandem in the league; the best defensive shutdown pair in the league; and an offensive balance that only promises to improve. Management in business is assessed on their financial success. The Bruins extended playoff run provided 13 additional home games (that’s an additional 32%). That’s not all profit even if the players’ salaries are based on a regular season of 82 games. Some of the money ensures the players’ escrow and some goes to revenue sharing but it does increase the bottom line. The Bruins didn’t maximize this financial opportunity. They had 4 home games in round one, going seven games against Montreal. They only had 2 home games in the Philadelphia sweep (I think it was worth the revenue loss). They maximized again against Tampa (4 games) and Vancouver (3 games). On top of this is the merchandising gain from a Stanley Cup victory run. The Cup runneth over, cha-ching!  Nothing this management team has done this offseason would indicate a change in philosophy or less than optimism for future success.

The Roster

Management has put together a team with great balance and youth. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup this past season with 3 rookies in the line-up. The top six forwards are relatively young: Lucic (23), Krejci (25), Horton (26), Marchand (23), Bergeron (25) and Seguin (19). They should be able to stay together for a number of years. Is there any doubt their best years are still ahead of them? The third and fourth lines are in their prime: Peverley (29), Kelly (30), Pouliot (24 – with upside?), Thornton (33 – the old man?), Campbell (27), and Paille (27). The experienced defence includes Chara (34), Corvo (34), Ference (32), Seidenberg (30), Boychuk (27) and the youngster McQuaid (24). We all know there is no slowing down for the timeless Thomas (37) and Rask (24) has his best years ahead of him. The Bruins actually got younger with Recchi (43) retiring, Kaberle (33) leaving and Ryder (31) leaving. There is no player on the current roster considered on the down side of his career. So far contract management and balance have been strengths. Management has not forfeited the future to win in the short-term. Nor has this team been built around one highly paid “superstar” with no team balance.

The League

Two league-related issues could have a negative effect on the success of this team going forward. The first is a new CBA. If there is a work stoppage after next season we could lose a season of hockey with the Bruins at their peak of performance. If the salary cap is lowered to accommodate the have-not franchises (doesn’t that make you appreciate strong ownership) the Bruins may have to jettison players to a lower cap. Our one advantage going into the CBA is that the Chairman of the Board of Governors is the Bruins’ Jacobs. Hopefully his motivation will be able to avert a stoppage while his team is profitable and on top. The other thing that may happen is if management cannot keep this core group of players together because of wild free agency spending by other clubs and the players’ priorities to go for the best buck rather than a quality situation where they are still millionaires but willing to keep a winner together by taking a home team discount. We have seen that as the only way to develop a professional sports dynasty in a salary cap structure. Right after being the Stanley Cup Champs is the best time to leverage this discount. Hopefully management will be exploring some extensions.

The Prospects

Management has addressed what may be one weakness within the organization going forward. The Providence Bruins have not mirrored the success of the parent team. We can assume this has been recognized by management as indicated by the change in coaches for next season. The lack of playoff success for the baby Bruins does not indicate poor performance drafting or a lack of talent in the system. But the Bruins need to show patience with the future. Stock the baby Bruins and develop them in the same image as the Bruins. The Bruins are a young team and don’t need to rush any player development. This will pay off in the long run. Let the juniors finish Junior. Take 1 or 2 years in the AHL. Build success at the AHL level. Call up if needed but don’t rush up. This management team does not need to prove anything in terms of their draft picks by rushing them to the big league. It would be best to keep any young player (under 25) playing significant minutes with Providence or in Junior rather than having them practicing and be healthy scratches with the Bruins.

The Product

Now let’s take a look at the future of the product (the players on the ice) based on the immediate past and what we might expect from the past season’s success. The easiest way for me to organize this is to analyze the forwards line by line.

First Line Krejci(C).Lucic (L).Horton(R).
In 75 games last season Krejci scored 13 goals with 49 assists for 62 points. He was a plus 23 with 157 shots and an 8.3% scoring percentage. In the 25 playoff games Krejci had 12 goals, 11 assists for 23 points leading all playoff scorers. This was a breakout for the young centre. Krejci was a plus 8 with 57 shots and a 21.1% scoring percentage. Krejci learned he can score. The improvement is dramatic. Projecting Krejci’s playoff numbers forward to a full season would result in 39 goals, 36 assists from 187 shots on goal. The 39 goals may be a bit of a leap but 30 goals are not out of the question. This potential makes Krejci the number two priority to sign a contract extension. Krejci would also be further motivated by wearing an ‘A’ on his jersey next year. Quiet waters run deep. It’s time for him to lead. He certainly did by his performance in the playoffs.

Lucic in 79 games last season had 30 goals with 32 assists for 62 points. He was a plus 28 with 173 shots and a 17.3% scoring percentage. Somewhat disappointing Lucic in 25 playoff games had 5 goals, 7 assists for 12 points. He was a plus 11 with 56 shots but only an 8.9% scoring percentage. This production level projected over a full season would result in only 16 goals and 23 assists on 184 shots. Lucic can rebound next season.

Horton in 80 games last season had 26 goals and 27 assists for 53 points. He was a plus 29, took 188 shots and scored at 13.8% scoring percentage. In 21 playoff games he had 8 goals, 9 assists for 17 points. He was a plus 11 with 52 shots and a 15.4% scoring percentage. Not in the numbers are the significance of his game winning goals. Projected to a full season he could score 31 goals, have 35 assists on 203 shots.

Overall in the 2010-2011 regular season this first line combined for 69 goals, 108 assists. During the playoffs they raised their production to 25 goals, 27 assists. This projected to a full season would be 86 goals, 94 assists. Based on the youth of this line, the playoff experience and success it is not unreasonable to expect them to combine for 90 goals and 90 assists next season. Each has demonstrated to be 30 goal scorers. That is great balance to have on a first line. That would add 17 to the team total goals.

Second Line Bergeron(C).Marchand (L).Recchi. Seguin(R).
Now Recchi has retired and I include him here for comparative purposes. I have assigned Seguin to this line as a comparative substitute for the scoring numbers Recchi provided and Seguin should be able to provide into the future. I do make the argument that Seguin should be on a second line but let’s look at the numbers first.

Bergeron during 80 regular season games scored 22 goals, 35 assists for 57 points. He was a plus 20 with 211 shots and a 10.4% scoring percentage. In 23 playoff games he scored 6 goals, 14 assists for 20 points. He was a plus 15, took 67 shots and a 9.0% scoring percentage. Projected over 82 games his playoff production would become 21 goals, 49 assists. Right in line with his last regular season. Bergeron is Bergeron. He has been and will continue to be the consistent Heart of this team and an excellent choice for alternate captain.

Marchand in 77 regular season games had 21 goals, 20 assists for 41 points, a plus 25 with 149 shots and 14.1% scoring percentage. Marchand, like Krejci, had a breakout playoff making him the first resigning priority ahead of Krejci, only because he is a restricted free agent. Marchand’s 11 goals, 8 assists, 19 point playoff projects through a full season to 36 goals, 26 assists. In the playoff he was a plus 12, took 61 shots and had a scoring percent of 18.0%. This as a rookie. Perhaps 36 goals is a stretch but a 30 goal season is not out of the question in the near future.

Recchi in 81 regular season games had 14 goals, 34 assists for 48 points. He was a plus 13, took 132 shots and had a scoring percentage of 10.6%. In 25 playoff games he scored 5 goals, 9 assists, 14 points, was a plus 7, took 40 shots and had a 12.5 %scoring percentage. He was a veteran leader. He has retired on top. I expect the torch of his leadership however has been passed on to his line mate, Bergeron. As far as his experience winning 3 Stanley Cups, the Bruins now have 17 returning players with on ice Stanley Cup winning experience. His scoring production will be replaced by the up and coming Seguin.

Seguin in 74 regular season games had 11 goals, 11 assists for 22 points. He was a minus 4, took 131 shots and scored at an 8.4% scoring percentage. When given a chance in 13 playoff games he had 3 goals, 4 assists for 7 points. He was a plus 5, took 22 shots and had a scoring percentage of 13.6%. Over an 82 game season this playoff performance would equate to 19 goals, 25 assists. This level of production would more than replace the loss of Recchi.

Overall during the 2010-2011 season the second line with Recchi had 57 goals, 89 assists. In the 2011 playoffs again with Recchi they scored 22 goals with 31 assists (very balanced to the first line with 25 goals, 27 assists). If you were to substitute Seguin for Recchi the playoff numbers project over a full season to 76 goals, 100 assists. It is not unrealistic to expect 25 goals from Bergeron, 30 goals from Marchand and 20 goals from Seguin. That’s an additional 18 goals. With an additional 17 goals from the first line the Bruins would be the highest scoring team in the league. My assumption to add Seguin to the second line was to show his production will offset losing Recchi. There is an argument to play Seguin on this line. Seguin should be a top six forward. It would be a young line. Able to grow together. I believe Seguin’s offensive potential is better suited to a second line rather than as a third or fourth line centre. If he is a centre of the future who better for him to learn from than the best two-way centre on the team, Bergeron. Just as Recchi was a mentor to Bergeron this past season I see Bergeron being the best mentor for Seguin for next season. After all Bergeron was once himself the high potential teenage hockey prodigy. Can you imagine the tempo with Marchand and Seguin skating and creating together?

While we are considering where to play Seguin just for fun let’s consider playing Seguin on the first line with Krejci and Lucic. Seguin would add speed to the line. Horton on the second line adds the big body. If you look at the two lines they would have a balance of speed, toughness, defence, scoring. The opposition couldn’t key on one line. It would be like having two first lines. Each line capable of scoring 80 goals. Lucic and Horton both play better when they are skating hard. Their lulls come when they are caught coasting. Playing alongside Seguin or Marchand will increase their tempo. Having a Horton or Lucic on each line provides that big body in front of the net and in the corners. Pairing the high potential Seguin with the Bruins most offensively skilled centerman, Krejci, could be very entertaining. Let the discussion begin.

Third Line Kelly(C).Peverley(R).Ryder.Pouliot (L).
Kelly in 24 regular season games with Boston scored 2 goals, with 3 assists for 5 points. He was a minus 1  with 24 shots and an 8.3% scoring percentage. With Ottawa Kelly had 12 goals. During 25 playoff games Kelly scored 5 goals, had 8 assists for 13 points. He was a plus 11 with 28 shots and a 17.9% scoring percentage. His playoff numbers project to a 16 goal, 26 assist season, pretty much in line with his Ottawa plus Boston total of 14 goals.

Peverley in 23 regular season games with Boston scored 4 goals, with 3 assists for 7 points. He was a minus 1 with 40 shots and a 10.0% scoring percentage. He also had 14 goals with Atlanta before being traded. In the playoffs he scored 4 goals with 8 assists for 12 points. He was a plus 6, taking 42 shots and had a 9.5% scoring percentage. His playoff scoring projects to 13 goals, 26 assists over a full season. Like Kelly, Peverley appears to be consistently headed to a 15 goal season.

Ryder in 79 regular season games scored 18 goals, 23 assists for 41 points. He was a minus 1 with 165 shots and a 10.9% scoring percentage. His playoff performance will be harder to replace. He scored 8 goals with 9 assists for 17 points. He was plus 8 taking 44 shots and scoring at an 18.2% scoring percentage. That projects to a 26 goal regular season. Pouliot was acquired to compete for Ryder’s roster spot.

In 79 regular season games Pouliot scored 13 goals with 17 assists for 30 points. He was a plus 2 with 129 shots and a 10.1% shooting percentage. His shooting percentage compares favourably with Ryder’s 10.9. His shots were fewer. His regular season goals could easily reach 15 if encouraged to shoot as often as Ryder. Pouliot may be an excellent fit for the regular season. He is a better fit to the Bruins player profile. He was third last year in hits on the Canadiens.

Letting a third line of Kelly, Peverley and Pouliot have a training camp and full season together there is realistic expectation for them to score 15 goals each. It’s hard to compare to the third line of last year since the 3 players have not played a full season together. But with the playoff performance of Kelly and Peverley they have demonstrated they can be a valuable component next season. If another player competes for the third line position, such as Caron or others, it is reasonable to expect them to score 15 goals and be a plus player or Chiarelli will find an alternative perhaps at trade deadline.

Fourth Line Campbell(C).Thornton(R).Paille (L).
In 80 regular season games Campbell scored 13 goals, 16 assists for 29 points. He was a plus 11 with 98 shots and a 13.3% scoring percentage. In the playoffs his contribution was well beyond his numbers. He had 1 goal, 3 assists for 4 points. He was a minus 2 with 24 shots and a 4.2% scoring percentage. His playoff numbers project less but can be expected to have 10 goals next season.

Thornton in 79 regular season games had 10 goals, 10 assists for 20 points. He was a plus 8 with 151 shots and a 6.6 shooting percentage. Like Campbell his playoff numbers do not reflect his contribution. He had 0 goals and 1 assist. He will get his 10 goals next year.

Paille in 43 regular season games had 6 goals, 7 assists for 13 points. He was a plus 3, took 48 shots and a scoring percentage of 12.5 percentage. In 25 playoff games he had 3 goals, 3 assists for 6 points. He was a plus 2, took 25 shots and scored at 12.0% scoring percentage. This projects to 10 goals over 82 games.

The fourth line scored 29 goals with 33 assists in the 2010-2011 season and had 4 goals, 7 assists in the playoffs. They were effective playoff performers and can be expected to combine for 30 goals next season.

The Power Play

The power play was less than effective last year and in the playoffs to say the least. But the Bruins were the best team during the regular season and in the playoffs 5 on 5, scoring more goals than any other team at even-strength. The solution for next year is a simple one. In any man advantage situation next year don’t try to find a power play combination of forwards and defencemen to set up some fancy plays. Rather simply roll out the lines and defensive pairings (don’t even tell them there is a power play). Play your 5 on 5 style, against 4 defenders. It can’t be any worse. Seriously though, it’s nice to have an area to improve on. Imagine the result in total offense if improvement on the power play is forthcoming next year. Corvo will give the Bruins a second scoring-defenseman on the power play.

The Offence

To score you have to shoot. The Bruins had the 3rd highest shots-for last year with 2692. If they maintain that level they will score. To summarize the offence we can expect an effect fourth line contributing 30 goals, a third line with a consistent 45 goals, a second line contributing 75 goals and a first line capable of 90 goals. If the defencemen contribute 36 goals as they did last year that is a total of 276 goals. That’s more than the league leader last year (262 goals). That compares to 246 Bruins’ goals last year. It is a stretch but not unreasonable: Krejci, Marchand and Seguin must step up to their potential. They can do it. They already did in the toughest of competition…the playoffs. Plus some of these goals will come from an improved power play. Corvo will not hesitate to shoot.

The 36 goals by defencemen were scored by Chara (14), Seidenberg (7), Boychuk (3), Ference (3), McQuaid (3), Kampfer (5) and Kaberle (1). Chara had 14 goals, 30 assists for 44 points. Included was a hat trick, something not expected to be repeated. The newly acquired Corvo had 11 goals last year with Carolina. Combined with 29 assists he totalled 40 points. His offence is comparable to Chara and far outweighs Kaberle’s total of 4 goals (only 1 with Boston).

At this point, at least on paper, it would seem Chiarelli has done an admirable job replacing lost offense in his acquisition of Pouliot and Corvo. The Bruins didn’t need game changers. They required a couple of veterans to fill a third line winger position (replacing Ryder) capable of 15 goals and a third pairing defencemen with some offensive ability to replace Kaberle. Corvo certainly more than fits the latter and Pouliot is only 24 years old with upside. Both are better fits to the Bruins player profile with short-term contracts at a reasonable cap hit. Experienced players with upside and if they don’t work out the Bruins have Caron, Arniel, Hamill, Sauve, Kampfer or Bartkowski ready to challenge for the jobs. The Bruins will give the youngsters an opportunity to earn a roster spot but having these two experienced players to manage the risk is a good management strategy.

The Defence

Now let’s look at the defence. A record-setting goaltender with a .938 save percent, 2.0 goals against average, two-time Vezina trophy winner in the past 3 years and no reason to expect any less competitiveness next year. We all know what Thomas accomplished during the playoffs (.940 save percentage, 1.98 goals against) to earn the Conn Smythe trophy. It’s hard to remember that Rask had the best save percentage (.931) and goals against average (1.97) in the league during his 39 starts in 2009-2010. Thomas competed to win the job last year. They will compete again this year. The number one job is Thomas’ to start but Rask will be there to compete for playing time. What a great situation. Many teams struggle to find a number one. The Bruins have a 1a and a 1b. Rask is priority number three to extend his contract after Marchand and Krejci. He is the future and should be expected to see more action next year just to keep Thomas rested and healthy.

The defence allowed 195 goals against last season (3rd best) and were plus 51 (2nd best). In the playoffs they were a plus 28 allowing only 53 goals (in comparison Vancouver who was number one during the regular season was a minus 11 allowing 69 goals in the playoffs). Projected over an entire season the Bruins’ playoff defensive effort would result in 174 goals against. You may argue that you can’t compare the regular season to the playoffs. Perhaps, but consider over 25 playoff games (roughly a third of a season, not a small sample) by buying into a defensive scheme against the best (and highest scoring) teams in the league the Bruins learned what it takes to win. I give full credit to both forwards and defencemen. If you don’t play both ends of the ice for Julien then you don’t play.

The defencemen are anchored by team captain, Chara, awarded by the NHL this year for his leadership, a former Norris trophy winner and a finalist this past year. The Bruins put out the best shut down pair of defencemen during the playoffs with Chara and Seidenberg. Boychuk and Ference proved a solid pairing. And McQuaid, with a plus 30 rating in the regular season, followed it up with an excellent playoff. McQuaid is definitely priority number four to get a contract extension. Corvo is expected to provide a more physical and reliable alternative to Kaberle for next season. If not, Kampfer and Bartkowski are ready to compete for the sixth position. As far as pairings to balance left and right shots I’d like to see McQuaid develop further along side Chara, keep Ference and Boychuk together and who better to initiate Corvo to the Bruins style of play than Seidenberg (they have played together previously in Carolina). A more balanced playing time will rest the defenders for the playoffs. You can reunite Chara and Seidenberg in the second half of the season. The defensive area to improve on is the number of shots against. The Bruins ranked a poor 29th allowing 2682. This trend continued throughout the playoffs. Obviously reduce the number of shots, reduce the number of goals, and win more games.

The Penalty Kill

The Bruins had 46 goals against in penalty situations last season (9th). The penalty kill pairings have proved themselves in the playoffs: Campbell with Paille; Kelly with Peverley; and, Bergeron with Marchand. The Bruins were 16th during the regular season killing 82.6% of penalties (the top kill was around 86%) and were 6th in the playoffs killing 84.4% of penalties. So there is some room for improvement next season. Playing on lines together throughout the season reinforces their defensive effectiveness and could account for their ability to score short-handed goals. The Bruins were 4th during the regular season scoring 11 SHGs and 1st during the playoffs scoring 4 SHGs. This ability to score while short-handed offsets the lower penalty killing percentage. The Bruins were 3rd overall during the season in net goals while short-handed (goals-against minus goals-scored).

The Shoot Out

The Bruins were dead-last, 30th, in shootouts last season. They recorded only 2 wins in 8 opportunities. Seguin had 4 goals on 8 opportunities for a shooting percentage of 50% but only 1 game winner. The other 2 shootout goals came from the departed Wheeler and Ryder. Others that attempted but failed to score were Bergeron on 3 attempts, Krejci on 2 attempts, and Lucic, Chara, Horton, and Peverley with one attempt each. The goalkeepers recorded only a .542 save percentage against opposing shooters, 28th worst in the league. Six lost points may not seem significant but that would have resulted in 1st place in the Eastern Conference. Who are the candidates next season to take the shootouts? How can the goalies improve on their performance? The best solution: win in 60 minutes.

The Opposition

The final test is to ask the question, “How do you beat the Bruins?” The Bruins will not be undefeated but the question is more how does the opposing team approach the Bruins? What is their weakness? Goaltending is not an issue. You can’t just out shoot them. They still win if you do. The scoring is well-balanced. You can’t win by shutting down one or two stars. You can’t intimidate or out hit the forwards or the defence or the goalie. If you charge the net Thomas will knock you down on your butt (just ask Daniel Sedin). The defence is big, strong and mobile. The third and four lines are solid and consistent. They are the best team 5 on 5. Penalty killing could be better but watch out they don’t score against you short-handed. They have a slightly better road record than at home so you don’t have home ice advantage. If you can play for a tie you have the advantage in a shootout. They will be confident as defending Champs with 90% of the roster returning. The hangover effect or over-confidence may be an issue but this team has strong leadership and great coaching to address any issues. Teams may up their game to play the Champs next year but that will only strengthen them through tough competition and not let them get over-confident. They adapt well to systems applied against them (1-3-1 goodbye). Their greatest weakness is their power play. If you get a lead you could try to play short-handed the rest of the game but I don’t think that is a viable strategy. You know they will be focusing on that part of their game to improve it. They won’t win every game but certainly should be a playoff team  next year. Once in the playoffs they know what is required to win. They know how to win in 7; know how to come from behind; know how to win in a sweep; know how to win 1 to nothing; know how to blow out a team (8 – 1); know how to win in overtime; know how to close out at home and on the road; know how to win as a team and with great individual effort; they understand the sacrifice; and, they will believe in themselves.

The Conclusion

So in conclusion the Bruins are worthy of your future investment as a fan. They have solid, committed ownership, financial stability, and a successful, consistent management team with a winning philosophy. They have an exciting and winning product on the ice with an upside for further success based on a young core of players. Based on playoff success we can expect an increase in goals for and a decrease in goals against. Management needs to extend the contracts for Marchand (done), Krejci, Rask and McQuaid (done) as a priority. There are areas to improve upon. If there were not, one might be afraid the team had peaked and had limited upside for future success. Areas to improve include the AHL affiliate’s success, reducing the number of shots against, the shootout, the penalty kill and the power play. Get over the hangover, improve in these areas, stay healthy, make the playoffs and Believe ‘We’ can do it again.

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One Comment

  1. I have an issue giving too much credit to Jeremy Jacobs, based on the fact that his unwillingness to pay players or make trades at the deadline because of the bottom line cost the Bruins many chances to get over the hump and win a Stanley Cup in the 1980s. I will give him credit for being better the last few years, but had he cared more 25 years ago, the Bruins would not have gone 39 years without a Stanley Cup championship.

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