I think for Boston Bruins fans, after six games, that some questions start to emerge, about what this team is all about. Is it a good team, a bad team, just a playoff team or a team that is looking for identity?
I must admit, I'm just as confused as the average fan. Some of the things I expect, just don't seem to be happening often enough. I expect in general, a sharp lock down defense from the goalie to the forwards. What I've seen is blown coverage, inconsistent play, careless turnovers, lack of discipline and occasionally, some outright quit.
Not typical Bruins play. Is it lack of overall players skill, bad game plans, the schedule, confusion on roles or big holes in the roster?
I hear about the vaunted amount of leadership on the team and despite some players leaving over the last few seasons, that's there is plenty of solid leadership left. Really? because I wonder if the leadership voices understand any more than I do, how they're supposed to adapt to so many quality veterans leaving, the pressure on those veterans remaining behind is building. What about younger players and rookies who haven't been exposed to the solid leadership of the past, do they understand the legacy? Are they buying in? I see a lot of confusion on some younger faces.
How about the coaching? I'll be the first to say the Bruins when they play their best, don't play a basic game. It's a defined system and it has evolved over the last five years, but are young players and new players in the system on board? Sometimes they seem confused or do the wrong/unexpected thing within the system. One of the bonuses of the Julien system I've seen in the past when injuries have occurred, is the ability of players in the short term to fill someone's role in a plug and play manner. I don't see that right now. It seems we need the right player in the right spot or things fall apart. Another past advantage has been the ability to roll four forward lines in all situations and times of the game. That seems lost and we see an evident shortening of the bench later in close games. No one denies that some valuable players with defined tool sets are gone, but have too many left and should we start the new rebuild?
What is the General Manager and his team's assessment? Can enough be done, are we in handcuffs making moves, too loyal to some core veterans or praying for miracles? The Coach needs tools, the tool chest is heavy on investment with too few tools and maybe the job of winning is too much expect with the options available.
In the short term, these are the challenges. The team isn't gelling, go back to some successful hockey basics, put your opportunities to create offense into smaller successful pushes during the game. The goalies need bodies defending and punishing other teams in our own end. Wait for the power plays and force the play at those times, Make an offense push in the first five minutes of the game and the last five minutes of a period when behind or tied. Play a more focused defense when in the last five minutes of a period with a lead. If we must win a one goal game, play to win a one goal game. If we can get to overtime and steal a point, push to get there. If we must lose, make it a tight contest, rather than a risky all or nothing game that we aren't suited to playing. Defend the goalies and give them a chance to steal a game for you.
There is one other thing we can do with a 23 player roster. Play the 18 best skaters available and put players in positions to succeed with their skills. Even if it mixes up the combinations. When you put your best foot forward, you often have better results than when you try to cover the averages. It's Ok sometimes to overplay the hot hands, don't get locked into depending on what players have done for you in the past and expecting them to break out on bad games. Just one pundits opinion!
Until Next Time!