Bottoming Out

Since the NHL trade deadlines conclusion, February 29th, a day in which teams beef up for the tough road to the playoffs. The Boston Bruins have been reminiscent of their play in September as a pose to their play in December.

Coming off a dismal West coast road trip which saw them go 0-3-0 facing off against some of the NHLs top teams. Boston had a golden opportunity to show the national media that their most recent road trip was a minor hiccup.

Needless to say they failed.

In a national televised Wednesday night game on NBCSN, the New York Rangers flat out dominated Boston. Eventually prevailing 5-2 at Madison Square Garden.

Having gone 0 and 4 against perpetual Stanley Cup contenders in that stretch, the scope of this team is clear. They’re a long ways away from relevancy.

For the first time in a long time Boston’s hockey club is in danger of missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons. While the play offensively has been suspect of late, on most nights they have no issue piling on a fair amount of shots. That being said, it’s not about the number of shots on net, but the number that ends up past the opposing goaltender.

Which has been their bugaboo all season long.

Realistically speaking, outside of the Marchand, Bergeron, and Stempniak line this Bruins team physically cannot score goals.

Both Krejci and Spooner appear ghost like in their offensive contributions which is a mammoth issue. Simply you cannot get this lack of contribution from your centers and expect to make the playoffs. Typically playoff caliber teams roll four lines with battle tested centers all the way down. I don’t need to remind you that Boston just isn’t that right now.

Pastrnak and Eriksson have completely lost their scoring touch while Kevin Miller and John Liles continue their attempts to piece together lackluster defense.

In regards to the goaltending, Tuukka Rask was relieved by Jonas Gustavsson. Rask by the way, missed considerable time leading up to last night due to an “illness” and was still warranted a start.

Bold strategy.

With 8 games remaining on the season, the odds don’t initially appear to be tipping in their favor.

However if you’re a fan you should want this team to make the playoffs for a multitude of reasons.

First and foremost, after missing the playoffs for the first time in 8 seasons last year. Management cleared house trading away both Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton largely for future considerations. Leaving gigantic holes in their depth chart with no immediate replacements under contract.

Who is to say that yet another failure wouldn’t warrant a similar mindset to be instituted this summer?

Secondly the core is here now. Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and most recently Frank Vatrano.

“Frank the Tank” as he’s constantly referenced as, is a former resident of East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and a former Umass Minuteman has been lighting up the AHL. Not to mention he has a relatively impressive offensive showing in the NHL while he was a part of the lineup earlier this season.

Similar to Michael Ryder, Vatrano has a bullet for a wrist shot and an eye for the net. Nearly a goal per game player for Providence, he recently was added to the lineup last night in New York. A game in which, he unsurprisingly scored.

It’s not rocket science, play the kids, Claude.

After all, Boston’s proof is in the future.

Through draft picks and a strong farm system.

Brandon Carlo who was a second round pick for Boston last season is a 6 foot 5 inch 203 pound defensemen. Today he joined Providence after finishing up his season in the WHL. 5 goals and 22 assists through 63 games is nothing to shrug off, and the ceiling is quite high.

Finally, the only way to entice worthwhile free agents is to make the playoffs. Nobody worth their name is going to sign with a team that has stumbled over their own feet during the most important part of the season, twice.

Currently there is 8 games remaining on the schedule. Boston sits at 3rd in their division which is the last playoff spot.

A battle with Florida tonight would be an excellent spot to end their losing streak. After the matchups with Toronto, New Jersey, St. Louis, Chicago, Carolina, Detroit and finally Ottawa to close things out.

2014-15 saw the Bruins go 0-3 in their last three games which helped Pittsburg mathematically eliminate Boston from playoff contention. Tonight, along with a game against Detroit on April 7th   could make or break the season. But when you remember what happened to Boston last season one must hope lightning doesn’t strike in the same place.

One thing is for sure, making the playoffs and losing in 5 games is a far better fate than not making the big dance at all.

Not to mention teams such as the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs have begun to showcase their young talent. The kids are alright to say the least. Even worse news? You have to battle them for a playoff spot next season.

Perhaps Boston’s brass should follow Toronto and Buffalo’s shadow this off season. After all they went through exactly what the Bruins currently are and they’re better off because of it.

Don Sweeney dared not title last off season as a prelude to a “rebuild”. But its looking more and more like that is the course of action.

Truly a pity considering the Bruins won the Presidents Trophy just two seasons ago, believe it or not.

 

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