By Mike Miccoli, Boston Bruins Correspondent
The Boston Bruins are having a strange season. Strange in the sense that they’re considered a “struggling” team even with a top-five record in the NHL and strange in the sense that their once-sound defensive game is suddenly filled with cracks.
In conversations, columns and general musings, it has been difficult to classify this team. The Bruins have yet to really dominate a game but in the same breath, they haven’t exactly been bowled over either. They’ve made some pretty incredible comebacks but yet can’t hold a third period lead at times. Some players have looked elite at times while managing to disappear completely during stretches as well. We’ve been waiting for the team to take it to the next gear and finally break through for 30 games now. They haven’t.
It’s bad but it’s also not bad. Strange, right?
With the trade deadline less than two weeks away, it’s imperative that Peter Chiarelli add to the Bruins roster because the current team isn’t going to do much in the playoffs. But what does the team need to be successful? Glad you asked.
There’s this part in the TV show LOST where the main character, Jack Shephard, runs around trying to convince the other members of the “Oceanic Six” to go back to the island that they spent 108 days on when their plane crashed. “We have to go back!” he often screams, because he has this insatiable yearning to return to the place where he presumably felt the most normal during, we as an audience later find out, the most important part of his life. The catch is–he can only return to the island with the same people he left using the same elements that got them there.
But this isn’t a column about LOST.
The Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship has cast this stigma around them. Boston has preached this team-first, chemistry-driven mentality that reached well into the minds of every fan who supports the black and gold. The general consensus is that the roster that the Bruins won with once will be the roster that they win with again. It’s part of the reason why so many players who got their names engraved onto the Stanley Cup are still wearing the spoked-B today. But sometimes, chemistry doesn’t equal success. Sometimes, greatness doesn’t repeat itself with the same cast characters.
Sometimes you can’t go back.
The Bruins are now left with a team filled comfortably with no-trade clauses and in need of a serious wake-up call. Success comes with price, you know, this voracious need to do it again using the same dynamics. This Bruins team needs an addition or two to jumpstart the rest of the roster if it’s going to be successful this season.
The Bruins last three goals scored came in the past two games. Each of these were scored by a defenseman, two of which off of the stick of Dennis Seidenberg. The lack of production from the forwards has been frightening. Milan Lucic hasn’t scored since February 24, Rich Peverley is a team-worst -9 and Nathan Horton plays inspired hockey only sometimes.
The Bruins desperately need a top-nine forward who can produce offensively and slide up and down the lineup once lines eventually shift around. The Bruins could also use a bottom-pairing defenseman with stability in his own zone. But most importantly, the team needs a jump-start. History shows this is true after a trade deadline acquisition.
While the numbers aren’t staggering, the Bruins have decisively-winning records since making key acquisitions around the trade deadline. Aside from their 12-9-1 record after acquiring Brian Rolston, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau last season (the ultimate Mulligans), the Bruins were 14-7-3 after adding Peverley, Chris Kelly and Tomas Kaberle in 2010-11, 12-7-2 after adding Dennis Seidenberg at the deadline in the 2009-10 season and 11-6-1 after bringing on Mark Recchi in the 2008-09 season. Shakeups can make a difference with this team and the sooner Chiarelli makes an addition, the better.
Chiarelli is typically known for finding under-the-radar, depth players to acquire at the deadline. This year probably won’t be any different in an attempt to not sacrifice the future. But if the Bruins have a chance to win now, and I strongly believe they do, Chiarelli should go for it–whether the player is a rental or not. Put the players on notice, let them know that their spot is on the line if not for this season, next season. Push them out of their comfort zone.
The chemistry will always be there within the core of the team but if the Bruins want to pick their game back up and go to the next level, the complacency needs to disappear. A notable addition or two to the roster might just do the trick.
Oh, and in LOST? Jack and the other members of the Oceanic Six finally made it back to the island together and it sucked for them.
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.