With a record of 20-7-3, the Boston Bruins are currently sitting in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the division leading Montreal Canadiens (with a game in hand), and second only to the Pittsburgh Penguins in terms of goal differential (+22.)
With only a scant 18 games left to play in a shortened season, one would think that the Bruins would be a confident bunch heading down the stretch. Below the surface, however, there is cause for concern, and the Bruins have some work to do in the last week of March to avoid going into April looking more like lambs than lions.
Most recently, the Bruins went on a road trip to Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Ottawa, & Toronto, with the following results:
Bruins outscored, 9-6, in 1-3-0 roadie. Play with lead for total 32:40 in 4 games. Carry lead into P3 only once, and lose to 'Peg, 3-1.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) March 24, 2013
That’s 6 goals in 4 games, with key players experiencing sizable lapses in production throughout the month of March as a whole:
- Milan Lucic – 0 goals in 15 games
- Nathan Horton – 1 goal in 13 games
- David Krejci – 2 goals in 12 games
- Brad Marchand – 1 goal in 10 games
- Rich Peverley – 2 goals in 17 games
On the flip side, the Bruins have benefited from a breakout by Tyler Seguin (7 goals in his last 13 games), consistency from Patrice Bergeron (averaging 0.86 PPG with a team high +21), timely goals from Daniel Paille (who could be one answer to the team’s offensive struggles if given the opportunity), as well as production from key players on the back end (Zdeno Chara & Dennis Seidenberg) to keep them afloat (7-5-1 this month) in the midst of some pretty heavy offensive struggles.
A Toronto Saturday Night
On Saturday night, the Bruins dropped a 3-2 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs, a game in which they out shot the opposition 33-13 but couldn’t found the back of the net until they were already down 3-0 early in the 3rd.
Said captain Zdeno Chara on what happened at the ACC:
For sure it was a lack of energy and jump in our game. Maybe [we needed] a little more desperation. We were close to scoring a few times, so maybe it was [squeezing our sticks] and maybe it wasn’t. It didn’t seem to be a problem later on [in the third period]. We need to put this game behind us, regroup and get ready for the same opponent at home. We know with this team that we’re capable of playing a lot better and with a lot more desperation. (via Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.com)
In truth, the Bruins did indeed have more pop in their game during Saturday’s thirst period, and if they can cut / paste that effort moving forward, they should be fine.
The bottom line is that some members of this team are under performing, but as a whole they’ve been able to put together a decent record while remaining a contender in the East.There is another level that the Boston Bruins have yet to reach, and it’s a better situation than knowing that success is being built on a house of cards.
As Dennis Seidenberg puts it, “Guys are aware they haven’t scored in a while. They’d like nothing more than to get that monkey off their back.” (via Joe Haggerty, CSNNE.com)
And the sooner, the better.
Trades On The Way?
While the current crop of B’s try to sort things out, there’s always the possibility of a trade or two on the horizon. There is no shortage of speculation as to who the Bruins might add, from Jarome Iginla to Mike Ribeiro to Marti St. Louis and all kinds of Stars in between. In this writer’s opinion, Dallas would seem like an ideal trade partner, not only because of the Dr. Recchi connection but also because of the veteran pieces that they have to offer. Any one of
Brendan Morrow (reportedly on his way to Pittsburgh), Jaromir Jagr, Ray Whitney or even Derek Roy could help spark the offense and give the Bruins a fresh motivator to win.
On the back end, there’s no question that depth is required, as injuries to Johnny Boychuk and Adam MacQuaid have exposed the fact that AHL call ups like Matt Bartkowski aren’t quite ready for prime time. Names that come to mind are Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes, Mark Streit from the Island and Ryan Whitney in Edmonton, but, as always, the question is cost and whether it’s too steep in relation to the potential return.
As March nears an end, the question remains: are these Bruins the lions that banged their way to a Cup in 2011, or are they just a bunch of lost lambs? And with 10 days to go to the trade deadline, a shake up just might be in order to help restore a roar in this team.
As disappointing as Saturday’s loss was, things may not have been as bad as they seemed:
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) March 24, 2013
And Speaking of Jarome Iginla:
— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) March 24, 2013
The Bruins have a big week coming up to end the month, with 4 games on tap:
- Monday March 25th, vs Toronto.
- Wednesday March 27th, vs Montreal
- Saturday March 30th @ Philadelphia
- Sunday March 31st, @ Buffalo
Given the history that Boston has with each of these teams, these games will go a long way in showing what kind of team they are.
[Side note: for Canadian Bruins fans without the benefit of NHL Center Ice or GameCenter Live, 3 of this week's 4 games will be available on TV: Monday's game is on SNO, with games vs the Habs & Sabres being aired on TSN. Enjoy!]
Speaking of a shakeup, the Bruins had new look lines in practice on Sunday, via The Bruins Blog twitter feed:
- Marchand – Krejci – Horton
- Paille – Bergeron – Seguin
- Lucic – Peverley – Caron
- Pandolfo – Campbell – Thornton
It will be interesting to see if these lines remain intact on Monday vs Toronto, and to what result.
Follow Ian on Twitter for more Bruins news & commentary.