The pair of games that the Patrice Bergeron-less Bruins split over the weekend works as a pretty good metaphor for the season as a whole so far. On Saturday in Minnesota, the team played a perfectly efficient road game in beating the Wild (and sealing the fate of now-fired head coach Mike Yeo). They were opportunistic in their chances, got solid goaltending, and seemed to genuinely rally in Bergy’s absence (also, who gives a shit if they got outshot IF THEY WON THE FRIGGIN’ GAME?).
But yesterday in Detroit, we got the tracks of Bs fans’ tears. The Bs more resembled the bumbling unit that kicked off the season and had fans asking “What’s Going On?” instead of the team that played just a day before. Bad Tuukka Rask. Awful team defense that couldn’t get next to you. Mental errors that came on like a heatwave. And, unlike Saturday’s matinee, a squad that looked like it was missing its heart-and-soul. Yesterday’s effort hammered home the fact that if GM Don Sweeney wants Bs fans to be dancing in the streets, he will need to reach out and get a top-four D signed, sealed, delivered. Because this old heart of mine can’t take it much more.
The past weekend just reiterated what we already know about this team: when they go balls out and stick to the game plan, they’re a tough out; when they don’t, they’re not. Because as noted before, they’re just not good enough in their current form to go on cruise control at any point. Still, despite their flaws, they’re still a team with just enough strengths (potent offense, PP, up the middle, goaltending…though not yesterday) to tantalize you into thinking a couple of nice additions at the deadline could equal watching the Bruins deep into May.
But yesterday’s loss was another squandered chance to creep up the standings (writing those words a lot this season). A win would’ve put them just two points behind Florida for the division lead and in the midst of a pretty nice roadie. Instead, they’re still looking up at Detroit (albeit by one point) and hovering just above Wild Cards and wannabes, precariously straddling the line between playoffs and a non-lottery pick. The at-times frustrating grind toward locking up a postseason appearance continues tomorrow night in Columbus when the Bruins take on old friend Greg Campbell and the ‘going nowhere but relishing the spoiler role’ Blue Jackets.
A few more buds for your Presidential bowl…
*Brad Marchand, man. He was just named Third Star of the Week by the NHL for another stellar effort of late. He’s been playing like a man possessed after his suspension and if goals are his penance, Marchy’s soul is as clean and pure as Ivory Soap. It sure appears his maturity has gone up a level or three since the incident and, not so coincidentally, he’s fifth in the NHL in goal-scoring with 28 goals. Team brass long maintained the shifty winger was a core player and he’s proved it more than ever this season.
*Bergeron is officially listed as day-to-day after suffering some sort of (presumed) upper-body injury during his fight with Blake Wheeler. Many are speculating that he injured his shoulder when the much larger Wheeler landed on him at fight’s end. It’s certainly not a bad guess considering that Bergeron was allowed back into the game after the fight (i.e. he wouldn’t have gone back into the game if he was concussed). Whatever the hell it is, let’s hope it’s short-term because #37 has been, per usual, irreplaceable to the team.
*Congratulations to Claude on winning his 500th career NHL game. It’s a pretty damn good accomplishment for the understated, attention-avoiding bench boss, the NHL’s current longest tenured head coach. Someday, what he’s done here will get its proper appreciation.
*Damn, the Bs are gonna miss Loui Eriksson unless he decides to leave money on the table and re-up with them. Because all season long he’s looked like the player that helped delude the franchise into drastically altering its potential dynastic trajectory by trading away its slow-to-grow-up generational superstar for Eriksson, a guy who can’t crack Winnipeg’s line-up, an 18-goal scorer since replaced by a 12-goal scorer, and a defensive prospect who hasn’t been able to grasp a Top 6 spot on a suspect Boston back-end. And if/when Sweeney jettisons the Swede, it’s gonna leave a gaping hole in the line-up that can serve as Viagra for Feitelberg.
*Congrats also to Max Talbot on playing in his 700th NHL game. That’s not something many men on this planet get to do so hats off to the affable veteran.
*Really wish I kept a season long chart of Jack Edwards making references to the sweet, sweet herb as well as psychedelia (like Saturday when he started talking about the Wild’s 2-for-1 logo which essentially segued into tripping in the woods, which I couldn’t agree with Jack on more). Naturally, road trips featuring the Avalanche bring out his best schwag.
*One more: Congratulations to Southie lad Dave Cunniff, who took over as interim Head Coach of the Iowa Wild when John Torchetti was promoted to the same position for the parent club when Yeo was fired.