Calamity! Zdeno Chara is injured and going to miss time over the next 4-6 weeks. He has injured his left PCL tendon, it has a slight tear and will/should heal with rest and be just fine. This means missing 15-20 games and could effect the teams ability to make the playoffs come April 2015. Make no mistake, this is a blow to the teams competitive ability.
Is it doomsday in Boston? No! Lets make some reality predictions here. No matter how good the Bruins are with or without Zeno Chara, things have changed. The first thing to take off the table, Zdeno Chara will probably not be a finalist for the Norris Trophy. The second thing, the Bruins will probably not win the Jennings Trophy for best team defense. The third thing, let's kiss off the idea that the Bruins will win the Presidents Trophy for best record in the league. In tandem, it's likely to degrade the ability of Tuukka Rask to repeat as the Vezina Trophy winner and Patrice Bergeron's ability to repeat as the Selke Trophy winner. So, no hardware come NHL awards night. I say great, it leaves two things for the entire team to concentrate on. Getting into the playoffs and if healthy, winning the Stanley Cup, which is the only real meaningful Trophy to win at the end of the season.
First, Zdeno, just focus on getting better and healthy with no restrictions when you return to the ice. Don't rush, don't worry about helping the team at 80%. Get back and be a 100%. Second, as fans, let's keep expectations reasonable. Win the games you can, play as hard as is possible and take the good with the bad. This is an opportunity for the team to bear down across the boards and play to individual potential, which will lead to good team performance. If the team learns and gets to a point where they play gritty, hard-nosed, team balanced hockey in the next 4-6 weeks; imagine what adding a healthy Zdeno Chara will do.
Current Bruins that can make a difference. Milan Lucic, has to be a bigger overall presence in all three zones and limit his actions to what is in the teams best interest, grow and mature. David Krejci, new contract, wears an "A" on his shoulder, is playing at a point a game pace. We need more, we need it now and this means shooting and helping whom ever your right wing is to be better and succeed. Brad Marchand, nows the time to cement all the confidence this team has shown in your abilities and potential. There's 73 games left, you need to be a 30 goal scorer and that means 2-3 goals a week from here on out from your line and Bergeron can't do all the heavy lifting. Be a leader to Reilly Smith and help him grow his game in his sophomore season. Chris Kelly, can't ask him to do more as he's been doing more since the start of the season. But, there's an "A" on his shoulder too. It's obvious to me that Carl Soderberg gets it, but Loui Eriksson is game by game , Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. We need him to be Dr. Jekyl and contribute everywhere, maybe even on the first line if he can elevate his game. We need 25 goals from you Loui, start shooting and showing us what we traded for. Tuukka Rask, current Vezina Trophy winner, has a Stanley Cup ring as a backup goalie and arguably the best goalie in the league during the regular season the last two seasons. It's time to steal games despite the defense playing in front of you. We need you to be a great goalie on a mediocre team right now.
The Coaching Staff, let's go away from trying to tweak a top contender and back to basics and efforts that win on heart and grit. We can grow another level of game later. I maybe shake up the lines to better support the defense. Maybe we should go to a three line rotation with one or two extra forwards and dressing 7-8 defensemen and playing a four unit rotation. We supposedly have had 9 potential NHL defensemen in camp, let's play them. We can get valuable minutes is smaller doses from Zach Trotman, David Warsofski, Joe Morrow and Christopher Breen. One local guy looking for a team that worked out with the Bruins was Hal Gill. Maybe waste some minimum salary cap on a guy with experience and a 6'7" size in the short term. I hoping the Kevan Miller returns before Chara and that help is on the way from that venue. Claude Julien needs to show us he has more dimensions than he's previously shown. We won lots of games in the past before the Stanley Cup with with lesser players, time to get back to finding ways to win and play hot hands. There was a time 5-6 years ago we had injuries to top six defensemen and two players that jumped up and cemented permanent jobs were John Boychuk and Adam McQuaid. This is the time to look at defensemen with potential harder going into another off season with tough salary cap issues, maybe some answers are in the system. Stop looking for scoring to add, start looking for defense to hold the line, defense wins playoff rounds and timely scoring. Let's start playing defense and scoring in timely situations as a way out of this dilemma.
Until Next Time!