After a dismal powerplay during the post season, and an aggressively mediocre power play in the regular season, one would have thought fixing this would be priority number one. A week into free agency the power play is worse than it was not better. The inconsistent Michael Ryder has moved on. Mark Recchi has retired after a glorious career. They have not been replaced.

Michael Ryder for all his faults, was one of the top two forward contributors to the powerplay. Mark Recchi, for every minute of his age was the other. Recchi led the entire team in powerplay points. Ryder was first on the team in powerplay goals. To replace them, Peter Chiarelli signed Benoit Pouliot. The latest Habs discard had exactly one powerplay goal last year. One powerplay goal is exactly the same number that Greg Campbell had. The issue is not just his lack of production, but how bad what little production he had really is. Campbell saw a bare 17 minutes of powerplay time. Pouliot was on the ice for four times that. Campbell even managed to add an assist in his powerplay time, Pouliot, not so much.

So here we sit, a week into free agency. All indications point to Marc Savard not being on the ice to start the season. The top points producers from last years powerplay are gone. A roster spot has been filled by a chronic underperformer with less career goals than one of the players lost had just last regular season, his worst full season to date. What are we to expect? A full season going by with teams hacking away at our best players because they know the powerplay is no threat? Should we expect Claude Julien for all his other strengths to suddenly take untested prospects and make them the movers and shakers of the powerplay? And if so, which ones? The Providence Bruins last year had a powerplay that was not only the worst in the AHL but five percent more useless than Boston’s. I suppose its possible Julien will take an entirely different route from what has won him coach of the year awards both the AHL and NHL, and most recently allowed him to hoist the Stanley Cup with his team. I don’t see it, but sure, we could very well spend the year watching Maxime Suave and Jordan Caron getting two plus minutes a night of powerplay time. I think we’re just as likely to see Tyler Seguin lead the team in fighting majors at the end of the season as to see that, but it is possible.

I pointed out one or two players recently I certainly didn’t want to see land in a Bruins uniform, there are some moves I’d really like. I’ll get to those free agent pickups in a moment, but the the bigger question is, do the Bruins really need to make any major moves to be as strong as they were last year, or stronger? Probably not. Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder combined for just thirty two goals last season, Kaberle added just one.  Its a reasonably safe bet Brad Marchand will re-sign.  It’s highly unlikely Marchand will spend a quarter of the year on the fourth line. Tyler Seguin put on some muscle, got a lot of experience, and played with just about everyone on the roster at some point last year. David Krejci will not be entering the season off of wrist surgery as he did last year. Johnny Boychuk will probably not have his arm broken, miss ten games and turn in the lowest goal total of his professional career.

If we go with conservative estimates for the increase of  these four players over last year, most of that difference will be made up.  Boychuk had as many goals in the 25 game playoff run as he did in the 69 times he suited up in the regular season.  David Krejci who ended the season with his lowest full regular season goal total was just one goal short of matching that in the playoffs. Between these two players we can safely estimate two additional goals for Boychuk,  and an additional five for Krejci which is still several goals below his best season.  I would be surprised a great deal if Seguin or Marchand increased their goal totals by less than six each.

Leaving aside production increases by any other players on the roster this is 19 goals.  Of the rest of the roster only Lucic and Thonton set career highs in goals. Chara, Bergeron, Horton, Peverley were all well below their career highs as well. With the odd goal that can be blamed on Tuukka’s knee the Bruins find themselves in pretty good shape. Based on this highly simplified math the Bruins need about 14 goals this season. If they fill both Ryder and Recchi’s slots with rookies (Arniel, Caron, Hamill, Knight, Spooner, Suave) its almost inconceivable that Julien and Co couldn’t squeeze seven goals out of any two of them.

I suspect that if the right UFA deal comes along, the Bruins will grab them. One of the cheif reasons for this is that its a “hard cap” this year with a players bonuses figured into their cap hit counted against the cap. Entry level deal like Seguin’s, any of the players mentioned above would actually leave less available cap space than signing a player like Chris Drury to a $2million deal for the season. Another concern has to be victory disease. Even throwing out the ups, downs, travel, illnesses, and injuries of last season just wining the Cup and the summer of celebration has got to be both exhausting and undermining to motivation. What more can Tim Thomas have to prove? Rich Peverley was undrafted and two goals against a Vezina finalist in the Stanley Cup Finals. Chris Kelly went from the a lottery team to the promised land in less than fifty games. Adding in a hungry veteran either by free agency also allows them to be moved closer to the deadline be it for picks, prospects or other players.

One of the fonder and more recent memories Bruins fans will have is of game two against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Patrice Bergeron is looking on from a suite, the first game of the series had been dropped, and neither the first or second lines looked engaged. The outlook was bleak. And then there was the second period.

An anxious Causeway crowd was treated to a visit by both the ghost of hockey future and hockey past. Tyler Seguin’s future was put center stage under the big light and he jumped into the spotlight and provided neat looks, quick feet, and a stellar shot. No one was more responsible for that win than Seguin. Number two on the list was the type of player the Bruins have lacked for many years, a gifted set of hands, a nose for the puck and the ability to set a screen. Michael Ryder was that man. This was the two time 30 goal scorer Montreal once coveted with the ability to anticipate where the puck was going to be and put quality shots on net from any angle, in traffic or in the clear.

For one period two unlikely players dominated a game played at the highest level. The chemistry showed in this game by these two was breathtaking, and the results tipped the balance in the eastern conference finals. If these two can show that kind of frisson in the future there is no reason not to resign Ryder for another season, and perhaps move Kelly during the season for a draft pick from a team that is likely to finish below the Bruins in the standings. With Recchi’s retirement, if Ryder were resigned that would just leave the spare forwards roster spot to fill. Depending on what Julien and Chiiarelli want for that position the front runners are almost certainly Caron, Arniel and Knight. If Ryder is let go that makes things even more interesting.

I’m hardly discounting the rest of the season, but with the draft combine here and now, I can’t go another day without posting something.

At forward for the Bruins only Recchi and Ryder are unsigned unrestricted free agents.  Brad Marchand is an RFA, and as this is his entry contract and he’s played just one full year the Bruins have all the leverage.

Top forward prospects, in no particular order include:

  • Max Suave who’s fast, has hands that will make any goal scoring aficionado drool, and a long injury history.  At 6’2 and 184 he’s a bit wiry. This is if not his last year to make the club certainly the year he needs to hit 30 goals or 65+ points in Providence and stay healthy.
  • Jordan Caron, in essence he only has to do two things at camp next year a: bring his A game, b: remain consistent. He made the team out of camp this year, got second line minute, and penalty kill time under our fairly conservative coach. Of all the top six potential forwards he’s the only one listed over 200lbs, by the Bruins.
  • Jamie Arniel, after a day at rookie camp and watching the second of the rookie games at the Boston Garden last fall, I predicted he’d be the first Providence Bruin called up and he proved me right. Remorseless work ethic, was the leading scorer in Providence last year topping the charts with 27 goals and 50 points. This is the final year of his entry contract. While most projections list him as bottom six forward in the NHL systems vary and Juliens could favor him if he brings full effort. 5’11 193.
  • Ryan Spooner, pure fun to watch. Amazing puck disher I heard comparisons to Marc Savard like passing at rookie camp and the rookie game. One ace he may have up his sleeve is faceoff performance, which goes well with a solid shot and great vision. He did spend the year in Juniors where he set a point per game pace for two different teams, and in the playoffs. Not exactly imposing, at 5 10 17o. Finished the year with the P-Bruins.
  • Jared Knight won three awards among them hardest working player on his team this year. He also lead his team in scoring. Having added enough mass to top 200lbs, his relentless drives for the goal scoring areas are likely to be harder to stop this year than last. If you haven’t seen the goal scoring highlight reel on Youtube, go look. Like Spooner he finished off his playing year in Providence collecting a pair of assists.

What the Bruins lack in general is the aggressive, physical power forward type that has been key to the success of the team in the bodies of Horton and Lucic this year.  Bergeron, Seguin, Krejci and Marchand are hugely talented but none of them tops two hundred lbs and adding a little more size to some of the teams speed could make them even better.

Defense is honestly the position I find the Bruins depth thinnest at. Kaberle and Hnidy are the expiring contracts, and I expect to see Kaberle resigned for at least a year or two unless he unexpectedly retires. Steve Kampfer is likely graduated to full time duty and then we get the true prospects.

  • Yury Alexandrov is a Russian prospect with a couple years experience in the KHL. He was second in scoring for defensemen on the lackluster Providence Bruins last season. Fairly small, but smooth skating. Spoke no English when arriving last year. Had a better +/- at -6 than the leading scorer for defensemen on the P-Bruins last year.  Hockey’s future lists him as a potential 5-6 man at the NHL level.
  • Ryan Button, freshly signed to his entry level deal he’s listed just above Alexandrov on Hockeysfuture.com, the is another smaller defensemen projected towards the middle or end of the depth chart. Well respected in various circles for work ethic. Played the final seven games of the Providence series.
  • Matt Bartkowski, was called up for six games, including the Montreal game in which Chara was ejected for the hit on Pacioretty where he saw over 13 minutes of ice time. In six games he was a -1, with no points. This probably doesn’t reflect on him. His latest callup was during a funk in Boston that saw losses to half the leagues bottom feeders. Was the last cut at training camp. Could be called a smaller Boycjuck.
  • David Worsofsky, college player very small, agile picked up 3 assists in 10 games with Providence last year. Unlikely to see the NHL this year. Almost purely an offensive defensemen. Pro-comparison would put him in a similar mold to Marc-Andre Bergeron.
  • Colby Cohen, picked up in exchange for Matt Hunwick he’s billed as an offensive defensemen with passable ability in his own zone, was one of the few players and the only defensemen to finish the season in Providence with a positive +/- at +5. Projects as another 4-6 guy. Played three games in an Avalanche uniform before being traded.

These are the best of the guys signed for next year. None of whom projects to the type of number two or number three defenseman who can run a powerplay and or lead the defense if Chara is injured, suspended or in the penalty box.

Goaltending, while Tim Thomas does impressive things in net on a regular basis, and Rask has had an admirable career so far, that is about all that can be said for the Bruins goaltending. Khudobin is a UFA and will likely get an NHL or KHL contract of some sort next year, Schaefer is not a viable choice, and Zane Gotheberg is going the college route so he’s unlikely to be seen for three or more years.

  • Michael Hutchinson played just 28 games in Providence this year, allowed five goals in four of those occasions one of which was a win, had one shut out. In Reading of the ECHL he had better numbers than in Providence. It’s hard to tell how much is the the problem of the first year pro, and how much was just an underwhelming Providence club.

That’s it, after Rask and Thomas there is one goalie signed for next season to fill two Providence slots, two Reading slots and cover for injuries at all three levels.

Draft Wishlist:

  1. Strong top three defenseman.
  2. Goaltending depth, even if these pieces are dealt later.
  3. Power forward.

 

The Providence Bruins have been eliminated from post season play before they even get there for the second time in a row, the question of who’s going to join the big club for the second season. A look at Boston’s needs is probably the best way to eliminate players as despite their performance as a team, several players could make great accessories to an already strong team.

The Bruins powerplay is its most notable weakness, and with all respect to Trent Whitfield, I don’t think he’s the guy to juice an NHL powerplay in the post season. His shot just isn’t NHL level. The two players behind him are Jordan Caron, and Jamie Arniel. Each player had five powerplay goals in Providence this year. Arniel has already hit the twenty goal mark with several games to play and leads the team in goals, points and shots on goal while having a sordid -14. Caron who spent a score of games in Boston had an up and down season, but was also a big part of the penalty kill while in Boston. Either or both could be called up, possibly before the season ends if Thornton’s injury keeps him off the ice for a time.

Depth at defense has been a buzzword since the advent of the Chiarelli administration, I suspect that with Shane Hnidy signed any defenseman brought up will be lucking to get shifts in practice much less games without a multiple major injuries. Yury Alexandrov and Matt Bartkowski each have five goals thus far. While Bartkowski has been called up more than once already this year and this is Alexandrov’s first season in North America, but is a great skater with high end passing ability.

Other guys who could see time in the post season are Zach Hamill who will looked good in Boston (when not playing with Wheeler) and showed a bit more grit than many expected. Max Suave, who had an injury shortened season but who possesses a wicked shot has a solid chance of making it to the big dance.  Suave is also a slick skater who despite a spring ankle surgery managed to stay well into the regular camp this year, he’s among the few Providence Bruins with a positive +/- at +4, and had a four powerplay goals.

Long shots that would say interesting things, but essentially require serious injury to key Boston players include the recent acquired Boris Valabik, newly minted pro Ryan Button (@Buttsy78), and Colby Cohen who was picked up in exchange for Matt Hunwick in something that rhymes with “calorie sump”. Forwards are led by Jeremy Reich, the aforementioned Trent Whitfield, and the under the radar Kirk MacDonald who is currently third in scoring and fourth in goals.

This is a feature that will run about every two weeks with improbable stats and situations in the National Hockey League.
If I told you in September…

  • in All Star week, that Evgani Malkin would not only be not in the top ten league scorers, or on the All Star team, but behind Patrice Bergeron, rookie sensation Jeff Skinner, Dustin Byfugelien, Brandon Dubinski and Mikko Koivu… while sitting at #50
  • the Boston Bruins would have a rookie with a shot at catching Taylor Hall who’s name was not Maxime Suave, Joe Colborne, Jordan Caron, Jared Knight, Tyler Seguin, or Ryan Spooner, but Brad Marchand…
  • that the same rookie would lead the entire NHL in shorthanded goals ahead of players like Mike Richards, Pavel Datsyuk, and and other well known penalty kill game breakers.
  • the Boston Bruins would be #5 in goals for, with little help from Marc Savard.
  • the New York Islanders, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes and Buffalo Sabres would all have better powerplay percentages on 1/24 than the Washington Capitals.
  • that Michael Ryder (7) and Mark Recchi (6) would combine for as many powerplay goals as Alexander Semin (6), Mike Green (5), and Alexander Ovechkin (2) at the end of January.
  • Kari Lehtonen and UFA to be Brad Richards would be leading their team to the second largest division lead in the NHL (5 points)…
  • the LA Kings would be staring down the barrel of the trade deadline with the third stingiest defense in the Western Conference, a goal differential of +13, and still sit four points out of the playoffs and nineteen points out of the division lead to a team with a goal differential of -7
  • that Ilya Kovalchuk would have the most goals on the New Jersey Devils, and the worst plus minus with 14 and -27.
  • that Peter Budja, Johan Hedberg, and Maple Leafs rookie James Riemer would have more wins than Tukka Rask
  • the Dallas Stars division lead, and +14 goal differential would be in spite of having the lowest ranked penalty kill of any playoff team.

If I told you all these things in September, how many would you believe?

Of the many things I find absolutely fascinating about hockey is the making and breaking of lines. Players are tossed together by injures and demotions, cold streaks and red hot scoring streaks. Sometimes lines are broken up and shuffled to get better matchups against a given opponent, some times a player or player will simply abandon their skill set and start having amorous relations with a canine, other times some has been traded.

One of the most famous lines in recent Bruins history is the “700lb Line”, none of the three players is still with the team, but all are remembered. Joe Thornton centered Mike Knuble and Glen Murray. Thornton was the fresh faced youngster with the unbelievable hands and vision. Knuble was the crease front presence who was damn near impossible to move. Glen Murray had the mind numbing release. They were undoubtedly the three most talented forwards on the team at the time, and playing together it showed.

A few years back during the very, very dark days Brad Boyes, Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm gave the Garden faithful something to cheer for. They were clearly the first, and until recently only three man threat since the demise of the 700lb Line. All three exhibited above average speed, Bergeron slid from the right wing where he was drafted to the center position where Bruins fans have come to adore him. Sturm was absolutely predatory on the left wing dishing out hits, passes and goals. Boyes showed up for work and rocketed the puck on net from anywhere he could get a heartbeat free of interference.  This line was clearly 80% of the teams total talent in their season together, and what little there was to cheer about was usually the result of this lines work.

Still more recently we saw the emergence of two young players, and the resurgence of a third. Blake Wheeler was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes at number six but chose to get his education instead. Some might say the educational pursuit was in part because of the financial state of the then struggling franchise. Peter Chiarelli did little but wave a contract at him, and signed him without having to give up a draft pick or prospect. David Krejci split the previous season between Boston and Providence, with some time on the IR thanks to Adam Mair. Michael Ryder had earned his way into the dog house in La belle province, and in the off season signed with his old teams arch rivals. Together the three would prove very, very effective. Seventy goals would come from the trio, as the third line.

Last season, very briefly we saw a combination of Vladimir Sobotka, Daniel Paille and Blake Wheeler formed one of the most effective lines of the injury riddled season. Towards the end of one period they played together they completely took over the game and cycled the puck at the netmouth getting off several shots, cycling and holding on to possession for over a minute. Had the period been about 2 seconds longer Sobotka would have potted a goal as he had one waived off for finding the twine as the horn sounded. Sobotka was at his finest in a Bruins uniform at center, hitting everything in site, winning faceoffs consistently, passing well and making very good use of his linemates. Paille looked like a genuine top six forward, and Wheeler looked like he’d regained his rookie prowess. I wish the line had been given another week or two, they might just have made a lot of noise.

Marc Savard has had plenty of linemates since arriving in the Hub. Everyone from PJ Axellson and Glen Murray to Phil Kessel, Marco Sturm, and more have cycled through his wing. Some have worked well, most notably the pairing of Lucic and Kessel. In seasons past, Ryder has been tried several times with Savard, much to the disappointment of everyone. Despite Savard being a point per game player most of his career, and Ryder being a multi-time 30 goal man, the two were clearly less than the sum of their parts regardless of who they were linked up with. This season newcomer Nathan Horton has been infused into the paring and the chemistry of the three is quite interesting. Horton and Ryder can both deliver solid hits and have a great release, Savard is still struggling back to his pre-concussion form, but the three are just fun to watch together. If they can keep getting good chances they can will do a lot of damage.

A recent line that was clearly less than the some of its parts was Tyler Seguin and Blake Wheeler flanking David Krejci. I’ve quipped that this “Charmin Line” was a touch too soft, and their play against Pittsburgh proved this as Jordan Staal and company ran this line over right and left.  Despite the greats speed of Wheeler and Seguin and the sweet feeds of Krejci, the trio was ill fitted from the word go and never managed to look like they were all reading from the same playbook.

It will be very, very interesting to see what lines emerge throughout the rest of the season. A move that will bring in a powerplay threat is almost a certainty, and that means someone will go and the lines will be shuffled once more. As interesting, if less immediate is the question of what the lines will be like next fall as we’re likely to say good bye to anywhere from two to four of the teams current forwards. One line that might be very interesting next year is the threesome of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Jordan Caron. I think they could be a three headed monster that a lot of teams would have a great deal of trouble with.

The Lost Nordiques and the Boston Bruins have a history of trades, the most memorable of which was the trade that sent hall of famer Ray Bourque to win a Stanley Cup. This trade idea is slightly less laden with all star and all time names, but could result in one or both teams making their own cup run again. This would be a three player trade that provided both teams with something they desperately need.

To Boston:

Chris Stewart,

Why: Goal scoring touch, feisty attitude, big body. Putting Stewart with Savard or Bergeron and you’re instantly upgrading size,  scoring depth and physicality. With the

To Colorado:

Daniel Paille, Blake Wheeler

Why:  Colorado’s defense and especially penalty kill are woeful. The have the 27th ranked penalty kill in the league, and not surprisingly they sit at the same place for goals against. Both Wheeler and Paille possess speed in the top 5-10% of the NHL, and even if they are a slight downgrade in goalscoring, between the two of them they can probably improve the penalty kill 5% minimum.  As the highest scoring team in the NHL, a five or six goals for over the course of the regular season are not going to spell disaster.The Avalanche are likely to be flowing into the post season for the second straight year, and a key to sticking around to see round two will be improving their penalty kill.

Cap consideration:

Annualized, this would save the Bruins about $400,000 this season,  and cost the Avalanche the same amount according to Capgeek.com. Both Wheeler and Stewart are RFA’s at the end of their deals according to NHLNumbers.com, with Wheelers expiring this year, and Stewart next season. Paille would be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2011-2012 season. Even with the cap expected to rise next year, long term the Avalanche are looking at some a some serious number crunching. The recently acquired Tomas Fleishmann is due a new contract at the end of the year, and he’s clicked quite well with Matt Duchene. Duchene’s entry level deal will end at as next season expires, and I can’t imagine him signing cheap. At 34 Milan Hejduk is still trucking along and is currently a more than point per game player through 28 games this season. Sooner or later the Avalanche will have to replace the aging Adam Foote who eats up a lot of time on their penalty kill, and it’s doubtful they can get anyone worth having at a cap hit as low as his. For the Bruins the cap savings might mean the ability to recall Caron, or Arniel and maybe take an extra player or two on road trips without taking a prohibitive cap penalty that will carry over into next year.

The Boston Bruins have long been maligned for a certain lack. But that isn’t the case, Marc Savard, hardly the most athletic or imposing member of the Black and Gold has over the years stood up for Milan Lucic, and now Zdeno Chara when the big boys were outnumbered or blindsided.

Neither Chara nor Lucic have ever needed someone to stick up for them, it was done because someone needed a message sent. Patrice Bergeron will never threaten any NHL enforcers job, but when players take one too many liberties even he will drop the gloves and go, as Josh Georges found out to his dismay and indignity.

Mark Stuart has yet to meet the man who will make him pass on a chance to send them, once going three separate times with Jamal Mayers, two of their “discussions” in that game were listed as roughing minors by the officials, but everyone else in the building, and everyone watching at home knew the score.

Hell, even Grampa Recchi proved there was still some fire in the belly by dropping the gloves and going with Chris Campoli earlier this year.

So toughness, isn’t the answer. They have more than a handful of guys willing to drop the gloves, even the monster known as Blake Wheeler has been known to go for gladiatorial glory.

Statistically, this team is about where it needs to be to succeed. They have a stellar defense, and a rather enviable goalkeeping situation. (Mostly.) Their offense is nearer the top of the league than most people would have predicted in October. The failure to thrive has to be something different. I pointed out who shapes the personality of a team a few days ago.  So let’s take a look at who drafted which of some of the better known members of the Bruins, and look at the two men.

Mike O’Connell was a mostly unremarkable NHL defenseman. He had a career goal goal high of 18 goals in 1984, smack dab in the middle of the NHL’s golden age of scoring, Wayne Gretzky scored 87 that year, teammate Ray Bourque had 31 that season. He never am-massed more than  75 penalty minutes in a season in an era when line brawls were still common and bench clearing brawls weren’t unheard of, most of his seasons were in the 40’s.  As GM he was the man who traded Joe Thornton to San Jose. Never really came off as a great public speaker or someone who particularly enjoyed the spotlight, media attention or was highly emotional.

Some of the guys drafted by O’Connell:

  • Patrice Bergeron, a cerebral playmaker who’s good in all three zones, tolerates the media but would clearly rather be in the gym or on the couch with a good book than in front of the cameras.
  • David Krejci, a cerebral playmaker who’s good in all three zones, not spectacular but has very sharp passing skills and the ability to track his own teammates in an almost uncanny way. Clearly regards cameras as a form of torture that’d be outlawed if he were ever world dictator, but he’d probably rather be bowling than ruling.
  • Mark Stuart, quiet stay at home defensemen who’s pops is a brain surgeon, and who while mostly a quiet guy who has trouble remembering to breathe when he gets interviewed.

Peter Chiarelli was a Boston University college player, who’s pro-resume is exactly four games long, all of those in the British Hockey League, on a team where he may have been the best player. Peter Chiarelli, probably has almost as much love for cameras as does David Krejci, and his interviews aren’t going to become something that earn him a post management color commentating job ala Mike Milbury and Don Cherry, they might however get him a job as a drug free sleep therapist.

A few of the players brought in by Peter Chiarelli.

  • Jordan Caron. A kid who was criticized in some circles for taking to long to get to the podium when he was drafted because he stopped to quietly embrace the six or seven hundred supporters at the draft with him. Even during his interviews after his first NHL games and goals, he was very soft spoken.
  • Tyler Seguin, a cerebral high end talent who actively seeks direction from everyone around him to the point where he has actually had a limit on the number of question he can ask placed on him. When a camera is aimed at him he looks a bit like Pinocchio before he goes from puppet to real boy.
  • Blake Wheeler, took the route of passive resistance and preferring to risk not having a pro-career to demanding the Pheonix Coyotes trade him. Has had liberties taken with him right and left and only dropped the gloves once. Of the six players singled out, is probably the best pure interview, and yet I doubt he’ll end up holding the microphone when he hangs up the skates, not surprisingly he majored in economics.

While all of these guys are skilled at their positions, and at least two have leadership qualities, none of them, nor Zdeno Chara or any of the teams other top talents can really be counted as outgoing volatile personalities.  On the ice when the provocation is three steps beyond intolerable and as plain as the nose on Lucic’s face, they will act.

What they need, what the lack, what the front office should desire far more than a puck moving defenseman is a catalyst. That dynamic player who makes things happen, drops the gloves at the drop of hat, who burns hot on the ice, and can be counted on to have two or three feuds running with other teams, or even individual players. they guy who plays on one of the first two lines, and can be counted on to infect the entire team with his outrage, passion, or grim determination. Think of Shane Doan or Jarome Iginla and the way both of their teams ride their wakes. When either creates large waves, the team swamps whoever is on the ice with them. Either of those players is a potential solution, and while it’s unlikely either could be had has Iginla has a not trade clause and a hefty salary, and Doan as a full no movement, either one could be the mix that takes the current Bruins roster from contender to champion.

Some people will say its the job of the coach to motivate players, and in someways that’s correct, but this is the type of motivation I’ve never seen come from a coach. It’s either a skater or no one, right now in the case of the Boston Bruins, it’s no one.