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  Tuesday, September 30, 2014
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Bruins Still in Hibernation
By Paul Noonan

     Well at least the Bruins’ management can honestly say they tried this summer.  So far that’s about the only positive thing about the Boston Bruins.  After a summer that sparked excitement with big name free agent signings, a new GM and a new coach, the excitement has quickly fizzled thanks to the B’s 5-7-2 start, the second worst record in the Eastern Conference behind only the more pitiful Philadelphia Flyers.  Injuries certainly have not helped the Bruins, but it still is no excuse for a team with big expectations to live up to. 

             

     Arguably the biggest signing of the summer, both literally and figuratively, Zdeno Chara has lived up to his billing for the most part.  He plays nearly half the game, leads team defensemen in scoring with 10 and has been a physical presence as usual.  However, his -5 plus minus rating is an eye opening stat for a player who has finished +17 or better the last four years.  The B’s other big acquisition, Marc Savard has also not disappointed.  He leads the team in assists and points (13,18) and is one of only four players with a plus rating.  He’s also been one of the more successful Bruins in the face- off circle.  Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes have been playing better lately, after a slow start, but even stronger play is needed.  Phil Kessel is improving, but it is unlikely we will see Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby numbers from him this season.  The weakest link this season on offense was last year’s strongest:  Marco Sturm.  Sturm has a paltry three points as of Sunday.  More production out of him is necessary if the Bruins hope to become a bigger offensive threat.  On defense, Andrew Alberts is the only defender with a plus rating at +3.  Alberts has improved from last year, and his success has helped, but any defense with only one plus player needs some serious improvement.  Off- season acquisition, Paul Mara, has brought the offense the B’s hoped and has logged good ice time, but his team worst -9 rating needs to be fixed.  Matt Lashoff and Milan Jurcina have played solid as depth defensemen, but they can’t be relied on too heavily yet.  Brad Stuart’s return from his injury will be key.  If Stuart can bounce back and play like the #1 defenseman he is capable of being that would help a lot.  However, the biggest problem for the B’s is between the pipes.  Tim Thomas had flashes of brilliance last season, but he is not really a #1 goalie, and this season he has really struggled.  Hannu Toivonen was supposed to emerge as the #1, but he has played poorly so far this season, so much so he even earned a demotion back to Providence in the hopes he will find his game again, and fast. 

             

     What the Bruins really need is some consistency…..from everyone.  Part of the Bruins’ problem early can be partially attributed to all the new faces throughout the organization.  Everyone has had to adjust to new linemates, a new coach, new defensive partners, etc.  Dave Lewis has tinkered with lines often early as well, which likely hasn’t helped too much.  Nevertheless, the Bruins need to overcome that quick.  Sure it’s only twelve games into the season, and there is time left to save it, but they already have put themselves in a position where they need to climb over six other teams to enter the playoff picture.  The longer they stay there the tougher it will be.    



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