By Wayne Whittaker, Boston Bruins Correspondent
72 games have been played in the 2011-2012 season. Ten games remain, and we still have no idea what this Boston Bruins team is all about.
Clearly they’re not the Bruins of November/December, when they weren’t just beating teams, but annihilating them. That being said, it’s also hard to believe that they’re as bad as their recent play has suggested.
Did I mention the playoffs are just ten games away?
Prior to Tuesday night’s 8-0 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins had looked like a tired club. Even in victory the exhaustion was palpable.
Deadline acquisitions haven’t provided much of a spark, and with Tuukka Rask sidelined, Peter Chiarelli decided he was going to try and convince the masses that Marty Turco is still an NHL-level goalie.
While injuries have taken their toll on the club, there is some good news. Rich Peverley is making progress and could be returning to action next week. However, Nathan Horton has yet to begin skating as effects from a January concussion still linger. It remains a possibility that Horton could make a return this year, but it’s hard to imagine such a scenario happening in time for the start of the playoffs.
The soon-to-be-38-year old workhorse Tim Thomas won’t see much rest prior to the post-season unless Boston wraps up the Northeast Division. Which, obviously, isn’t the ideal situation for a team whose playoff system has a contingency plan of letting your world-class goalie bail you out.
Ten games. Then the regular season ends, and the Bruins will try to withstand another two months of war with hopes of becoming the first Stanley Cup Champions to win back-to-back titles since the Detroit Red Wings of the 1990s.
The odds, obviously, are not in Boston’s favor. Should the Bruins fail to advance to the Conference Finals, local sports radio stations will be filled with reactionaries pleading to restructure this team “before it’s too late!”, but thankfully that shortsightedness won’t be shared by management.
It’s hard to keep in mind that the Boston Bruins have been playing hockey through 16 of the last 19 months. And that’s not including training camp, or pre-season. The fact that this team can still show signs of brilliance is a testament to their conditioning, pride, and competitiveness.
This is by no means a eulogy for the 2011-2012 Boston Bruins, which is a team that could very well resurrect the style of play that made them virtually unstoppable just in time for another Cup run.
But with a team that has been as spastic and unpredictable as the defending Cup champions have, it’s hard to imagine which version will arrive in April.
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