Sunday, March 25, 2012

Finish Strong

Here's a scary thought: even as horrible as the Bruins have been playing for the last two months, they are still in playoff contention. The tear they went on from November to January set them so far ahead of everyone else in their division that they could afford to go to sleep for the next two months (which, though not preferable, is exactly what they did). I had no problem with a slump, as long as it didn't last too long and continue into the playoffs. The Bruins got so used to scoring goals by the bushel and winning games 6 to 1 that they forgot how to deal with adversity, leading them to forget how to dig deep to gut out a goal with time winding down.
But this stretch of barely .500 hockey has gone on for far tooooooo long. Little things that are easily overshadowed by huge victories become the focal point for everyone to stare at. That, coupled with both Tuukka's injury and Timmy's sudden mere mortal play, exposed a chink in the armor that is Bruins hockey.
For the most part, the injury bug has left the Bruins alone for the last few seasons. A few weeks ago, players were dropping like flies. Horton, Bergeron, McQuaid, Pouliot, etc. etc. etc. These guys are no doubt still banged up, and it's only going to get worse. Playoff hockey is some of the most brutal in all of sports.
Couple things:
-I thought that the 8-0 assrapery the Bruins put on the Leafs would help them shake the funk. Yes, it's just the Leafs, but a win like that can make guys remember what it's like to score and score and keep on scoring. It can help them regain confidence and have some fun instead of dreading coming to the rink. They've played a little better since then, but questions persist.
-It comes out that Timmy has been battling a virus, which could account for his recent play. I know what it's like to do my job feeling like shit and I can only imagine what it's like to try and stop a puck that's being ripped in your direction at over 90 mph about 30 times a game. That being said, the Bruins defense had/has become a shadow of its former self. It got so bad that Corvo is a healthy scratch (I don't want to pile on, but thank fucking christ), and Chara and Seidenberg are being paired together. It's one thing if those two get together when playing against someone like the Penguins. It's an entirely different matter when the team is just trying to right the ship.
-Caron's play has finally picked up, but remains as spotty as an older woman's period. He just about fucked his team HARD last night, taking a penalty with about 4 minutes left in the 3rd. If it had been a double minor, I think we would have seen a different result. Yes, Timmy played an outstanding game last night, but again, questions persist.
-Good to see that Rolston has settled in and is producing. I'm still a bit surprised that the PP continues to struggle, as Rolston can help run the point just like Bergeron. This may go away whenever Peverley returns and shakes the rust. Though still surprisingly quick for his age, Rolston has lost a step and a big increase in minutes might mean that his play slips.
-Timmy has hit the amount of games played that Chiarelli spoke of before the season. It doesn't help that he's started so many in a row. He will once again be the number one goalie heading into the playoffs and he plays his best when he's had some rest (no shit). The Bruins will have to figure something out before the season ends. Does Turco get some time? Do they call up the healed Khudobin for some games? This wouldn't be an issue if they weren't in a dog fight for the lead of the Northeast with the suddenly hot Senators. All of it could have been avoided if they hadn't pulled a Rip Van Winkle and passed the fuck out for the better part of thirty games.
-Does anyone else feel that Seguin is trying to be too cute when he's rushing the puck? He's fine if he's already in the zone and someone passes it to him, but I've noticed that if he has one man to beat, he's pulling a Kessel and trying this one move over and over, which results in a mitt to the face and the puck quickly cleared back out. The kid remains fast as fuck and defensemen are aware of this. He always cuts to the outside. Maybe go middle? I don't know.
-Good to see that the Bruins locked Thornton up for two more years. I bristle when the idiots at The Hockey News call him a goon. Yes, he fights. He fights frequently. To me, a goon is Colton Orr. Donald Brashear. Jody Shelley. They get four to seven minutes a night and are a liability at all times, whether it's with their play with the puck or from taking stupid penalties. That asshole Pierre McGuire always says "Thornton's out there, running around." Thornton does not run around. His line consistently puts forth outstanding effort. They're not scoring like they were last year, but that's okay. Thornton is a guy that will call players out when they're coasting. His efforts keep everyone honest. He was rewarded for it. Love the guy.
The west coast swing continues tonight against the Ducks. Here's to hoping the Bruins string several victories together and enter the playoffs with the right mindset.
With so few games remaining, now is the time to get back into the good habits.
Go B's.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Seriously, What's Happening?

If I were a fan of the Jets or even the Leafs (just threw up in my mouth AND had the urge to listen to Justin Bieber), the last month or so of hockey would have been okay to watch. However, I actually have a set of testicles and I cheer for the Bruins...though there hasn't been much to cheer about lately by Boston standards.
The goals dried up. The goaltending was shaky. They've been shutout in their last 73 games. The physical play wasn't there. The boys were coasting, resting on their laurels and all of the points that they got early on in the season, when they were playing like the Stanley Cup finals were just going to be a formality and they should just be presented with the Cup right now.
Oh, how times have changed.
Remember when the Bruins would head into the 3rd period up by several goals? Yeah, me neither. It's been that long.
Normally the All-Star break is a good time for the team to go their separate way for a few days, heal up (or damage your liver in Vegas) and prepare for the final push. It couldn't have come at a better time for the Bruins.
It didn't work.
The team that was just entering a tailspin came back and played some of the least inspired hockey I've ever seen from this current squad. Where the fuck were the Timmy and Tuukka that we know? Gone were the amazing saves and solid consistency from the goalies, the "get me one goal and I'll do the rest" that was so prevalent when they went on their insane tear. Gone were the goals that made it look like Bruins had set their opponents on the NHL 94 retard settings.
Things have looked just a bit better as of late. The Bruins were playing so well that we Bruins fans (even though our team is the current Cup champ) were waiting for the other foot to drop, as we've been kicked in the nuts time and time and fucking time again.
A team playing that well, that isn't used to battling through adversity (injuries, hot goalies, etc.) scares me come playoff time.
Here's what I'm hoping:
-The Bruins will pull their heads out of their asses and get back to their physical ways, Shanahan and his arbitrary suspensions be damned. I gave the guy a clean slate at the beginning of the year, but he's fucked up in several instances that has now soured my opinion. I'm not going to whine and bitch about it, but it's there nonetheless. The game against the Canucks marked the beginning of the slide for the Bruins. I don't think that's a coincidence.
-Timmy and Tuukka will reclaim whatever they need to once again form the best duo in the league. Timmy has his opinions and Tuukka was quoted as saying he wanted to play more. Both items are distractions in their own right. Suck it up and do what's best for the team.
-I thought Chiarelli said it best when he dumped Kampfer, saying that he had lost his "swagger". This rings true for the entire team. The boys used to come onto the ice like they had 9 inch cocks and huge, pulsing balls. Opponents would piddle quietly into their hockey shorts and feign injuries. This has to come back. Play like you're the Stanley Cup champs, for fuck's sake.
-I don't want to pile on, but I'm going to. Corvo has to sit. The fact that the Bruins had to pick up two defensemen at the trade deadline says it all. Corvo has not been as advertised and he's a goddamn liability. The last game and his multiple turnovers just cemented my thinking that he needs to be watching from the pressbox. Sorry, Joe. It wasn't fun while it lasted.
-Zanon has played one game and I'm already loving the dude. Seidenberg 2.0. I'm down with that. Rolston has lost a step or two, but I still like the guy as well. I think we'll be seeing him on the point during power plays. He might just have the Recchi magic. Time will tell.
-The indestructible Johnny Upchuk proved that he is actually mortal and went down with a concussion on one of the hardest hockey hits I've ever seen. Some people were saying that Neil was faking injury so Chara wouldn't tear him apart, but anyone that has watched Neil play knows that he would stand their and fight if he could. Upchuk sounds like he's healing well and should be back soon...
-...but Horton is still watching from afar. I've almost gotten used to not seeing his simian looking face skating around out there and I'm not okay with that. Heal up, kid.
-Oh yeah, and Corvo has to sit.
-Claude is looking pretty fucking smart with his line changes the other night. He finally got Krejci to wake the FUCK UP and play some hockey. The Bruins cannot afford to have/let Krejci sleep through hockey games. Patty/Marchand/Seguin can't do all the scoring. The scoring buffer that the Bruins had last year isn't quite there, as the 4th line, though playing their normal solid hockey, hasn't produced the same amount of goals this year. An active Krejci is just that much more important to the success of the team. Even Lucic looked reenergized, busting down the boards like a fucking Serbian freight train to set up one of the goals. If that fucker keeps his feet moving, guys get the fuck out of his way. It's already proven that he's thought of as one of the toughest players in the league and you know for damn sure that any defenseman that sees him busting down the ice has that somewhere in the back of his mind.
So all that said, sorry for the long layoff. Normally Bruins hockey is a great escape from everything. The last month or so has been like an extended kick in the nuts with a pair of shitkickers tipped with craggy rocks. Here's hoping our boys pull themselves up, get back to that method of play that got them so much success and make a deeeeeeep push into the playoffs.
And as always, regardless of how much frustration I may feel with my team: Go B's.