Objectively Speaking

I admit that hockey is number four on the totem pole in my realm of sports knowledge. I admit that I am a casual fan of the game, a sport that is great to be at live, but for whatever reason lackluster to watch on television.  I admit I may have a "video game" mentality when it comes to the sport of hockey, "score, hit, fight, score."  With that being said, I also admit that I am not an idiot. 

I have taken an interest in the Boston Bruins this season and yes, I have been following them more this year than any other.  I have grown frustrated like many in The Hub with their recent swoon and have been thinking of what the problems are, what needs to be improved, and what actions can be made to rectify the team’s troubles.

Correct me if I am wrong. The object of hockey is to score more goals than your opposition.  If that objective is completed your team will win 100% of the time.  Now I am aware that there is plenty of strategy and various systems that are drawn up to create a successful hockey team. 

Claude Julien is a defensive minded coach with a defensive minded system.  He has been largely successful in the NHL and the argument could be made that he is one of the league’s best.  Right now the Bruins are 3rd in the Eastern Conference in goals allowed.  Their ability to prevent other teams from scoring is not to be questioned.  Whether it is the goaltending or defensive play, the Bruins are among the league’s best in protecting that 4 by 6 domain.

At the time of this writing the Bruins are dead last in the NHL in scoring goals and 7 goals away from the next closest team.  I was on an island during the offseason when I said that the Bruins were in trouble if they couldn’t bring back Phil Kessel.  Although at that time, I failed to understand that his estrogen level is higher than his testosterone and more importantly he did not want to be apart of the Bruins organization, his 36 goals are missed.  Great, the Bruins have a potential top 3 pick in the upcoming Entry Draft. But they never filled the void that Kessel left behind.

I was adamant that the team needed to trade for Ilya Kovalchuck. He is a top five player in the league and anytime you have an opportunity to acquire that type of talent you do so.  The New Jersey Devils catapulted themselves into being favorites to win Lord Stanley’s Cup. The price was very steep as they lost Johnny Oduya, 2 top prospects, and a 1st round pick.  Rumors have surfaced that Kovalchuk may be a rental player but the Devils took it on the chin and said "we are going for the Cup now!"

Watching the Bruins has been frustrating at best over the past 2 months. When watching other games, I would see constant action toward the net and ample opportunities were had to score.  The Bruins do not have that ability. Watching Pittsburgh and Washington this past weekend, I realized the Bruins would be wiped out in 4 games come the summer. The Bruins have next to nothing on offense and never seem to have possession of the puck in their opponents zone.  Marc Savard is their only true offensive player and he is a playmaker, one who creates for others, not for himself.  Look at the Bruins’ roster, who can he create for? Marco Sturm? Give me a break.  Sturm is not a bad player but he should not be a primary weapon.

During Boston’s ten game losing streak they put up scores of, 2,2,1,2,1,1,1,2,1, and 3.  I can’t imagine Tim Thomas, Tuuka Raask, or Zdeno Chara being happy with close to zero support. The defense can not get any better than that and if you think so you are lying to yourself.  Ask anyone around the NHL if they could give up those scores night in and night out and they would be ECSTATIC.  To give you an idea of how anemic the Bruins offense is, take this into consideration: Tuuka Raask has a 2.02 goals against average and only 11 wins with 7 losses.  That is similar to Pedro Martinez of the late 90’s having an ERA of 2 and losing 7 times!

So the problem is beyond obvious. The solution is not so hard to find albeit not the most popular course of action.  Peter Chiarelli signed Tim Thomas with his emotions, not as a businessman.  It is the job of the general managers in sports to be businessmen and not fans.  Theo Epstein does a great job of it for the Boston Red Sox.  (Thanks Mike Lowell for your World Series MVP and years of undying dedication to the Sox, but you are aging and we need can upgrade.)  Tim Thomas is the definition of a feel good story. Always the number 2 goalie, took years to reach the big stage, and then he wins the Vezina Trophy awarded to the league’s best goalie.  Chiarelli signs the 35 year old to a 4 year 20 million dollar extension.  The Bruins will be stuck with this albatross of a contract until 2013. Meanwhile perhaps the one of the league’s elite young goalie’s is ready to play now as evidenced by being statistically one of the best in the league today.  There is no doubt that Thomas deserved the contract. He played his ass off all his life and he finally got his big pay day.  I just wish it wasn’t at the expense of handcuffing the B’s for the next 4 years.

If the Bruins can trade Thomas they will accomplish two things.  They can acquire a much needed goal scorer and create some cap space for some reasonable signings that will actually help the team.  Tim Thomas is that elephant in the room asset that the Bruins should move.  Is there a market for Thomas? I highly doubt it. No one will want an aging goalie with a ridiculous contract. But if someone does the Bruins must act on it. 

All in all I believe that the Bruins will get into the playoffs as a 7 seed. They will fall in the first round to the New Jersey Devils. But it will be of no fault of the defense because the offense can not but the biscuit in the basket.

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3 Responses

  1. If I see another damn hockey post in a row I’m going to hurt a small animal.

  2. Is there a market for last year’s Vezina winner? You bet your ass there is. And the second objective is to prevent goals. They have it. But that will fall apart if they lean on it. Fall apart as quickly as Wideman’s career is falling apart, and as quickly as injuries take them from best in Eastern Conference last year, to worst over the past month. I have been watching this team for too long not to realize that when they lean on their strengths they quickly become weaknesses. I certainly hope I am wrong. But I certainly do digress on this issue until the Playoffs. I promise.

  3. By the way, comparing baseball to hockey in any aspect is completely missing the mark. And Thomas’ contract is one of the better goalie contracts to be issued over this past decade. See Dipietro’s, Luongo’s, etc…

    And no one signs with their emotions anymore…even in hockey…I wish they did, but they don’t….A Vezina trophy and the best season in 20 years doesn’t warrant emotions….you are becoming a Thomas hater to be combative….I actually like Rask, but he will be eaten alive…he’s not ready!

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