The Bruins failings in their second straight loss to the Montreal Canadiens were legion, and institutional. Several players failed, and the coaches failed to compensate. The medical staff failed, and all of this was made easier by ill advised trades prior to the deadline, and a systemic failure to draft or acquire the needed personalities to make the team successful. Further there is an endemic failure to look past the strengths of players to their weaknesses which may be, and in the cases of some players clearly are the larger portion of their game.
Thomas Kaberle is in no way a big game player. His absence from the playoffs spanned a time that far longer than the average career length of an NHL player. In Boston he’s played two games, made at least twice that many key turnovers and has failed in every single facet of the game to elevate to a playoff level. If you make the case that he is playing at a lower level than he had during the regular season, you won’t get an argument from me. His hockey IQ is visible only slightly more than Carl Soderberg. His heart, well its in no danger from any marksman I’ve seen, ever.
David Krejci, when his current contract was signed I was ecstatic, the front office had kept a solid player and paid him a fair market value. I had hoped that the length of the contract, and the dollar amount without any no trade or no movement clauses was a sign that they knew what they had and would use Krejci accordingly. Not so. This is not Krejci’s fault, it isn’t even entirely managements fault, or Juliens fault. But it hasn’t been addressed. With the long term loss of Savard, a play could have been made to bring in a more dynamic offensive threat. Instead, Krejci who is not a number one center is forced into a role where he can’t help but fail. Look at his faceoff track record, its dismal. Look at how long he went around mid season without garnering goals. He finished the season tenth on the team in goals scored. That’s behind Chara, Ryder, and Marchand and tied with Campbell. He was second in total time on ice in the regular season for forwards and first in time on ice per game. On top of this, his skating is clearly the worst on his line, and allows top defenses to neutralize him instantly shut down a third of the ice. Purely from the perspective of winning faceoffs, the Bruins might be better off with Seguin between Lucic and Horton as the rookie finished with a better win percentage there.
Milan Lucic, has been effectively shut down by the Habs. He’s been smothered when possible, shadowed when moving, and never left alone. His game has also been studied in great detail. The major turnovers he’s committed have been forced because they are plays he makes frequently. As Doctor Recchi says he needs to do the things that make him uncomfortable, and most importantly he needs to earn back the space he enjoys in the regular season.
Between medical staff, management, coaches and Zdeno Chara if he was going to be shut down in the playoffs, the decision needed to be made sooner. When they showed him skating during warmups any idiot knew he wasn’t playing. He looked like he had three minutes of draining left before they started embalming him. If he was in the hospital at all given his conditioning and experience, it was unfair to the team to have him present all day and this in part lead to the chaos and mental breakdowns that caused them to cough up two goals in two minutes. It should have been called early in the day, or at the same time it was confirmed he was hospitalized. Having him be a surprise addition to the roster would be a much better mental starting place for a team that was stymied the night before, if he was able to play, would be an immeasurably better place than where they were when the game started.
Looking at the team thus far, the only defenseman who has been solid in both games. The Bergeron line has looked good, and while the Campbell line has been the second best line, they still should not be getting as many minutes as they do.
Despite some good lines, and good information by Puck Daddy and crew, the problem with Nathan Horton isn’t Nathan Horton, but simply that one player can’t take over the entire offensive zone himself when his two linemates have already been canceled out.
Ideally, tonight in Montreal we’ll see less of the fourth line, more of Bergeron both with his line and double shifting with other forwards (say Horton, Peverley, Campbell off and on), and steady defense for the first time all series. I would also like to see Seguin back in the lineup. That means either Ryder, Kelly or Paille coming out. Obviously the Bruins need to win this game, the odds are heavily against them winning the series at this point, but there’s no excuse for going out with a whimper.
I mentioned last post that I’d like to see Chara and Ference back together, I think it may be time to tweak the forward lines again as well. As constituted the Bruins forward lines have done little. The first three lines need to be readjusted to provide speed, puck protection and scoring threat.
One possible set is:
- Lucic – Begeron – Peverley
- Marchand – Krejci – Horton
- Seguin – Kelly – Recchi
A win tonight for a team that has been better on the road than at home on the season would be huge. And maybe, just maybe they can take both games in the Belle Centre and even the series up before coming home.