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.

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