Futility, thy name is Bruins
In this very spot yesterday I wrote that the Boston Bruins should beat the Montreal Canadiens based on the paper lineups. Well, a quick look at the paper box score tells me that the Bruins out-shot the Canadiens 47-25, had four more power play opportunities and won 11 more faceoffs. Easy win, right? Not with this team.
With the losing streak up to nine in a row after last night's 3-2 shootout loss, the Bruins are at a loss for any semblance of a clue as to what is going on. Over their last two games, the Bruins have allowed (and yes, that is the correct word) Jose Theodore and Jaroslav Halak to combine for a .966 save percentage. The last win at the TD Garden was Dec. 30. The last regulation win was Jan. 4. The last ANYTHING win was Jan. 14. Since the Winter Classic, they're 2-10-3. Seven points in 15 games, which amounts to 38 over an 82 game schedule. I think Blake Wheeler summed it up best last night.
"We've all tried to search for answers for a while now," Wheeler said. "Our perspective is that it looks like the games have been slanted our way pretty dominantly for the last two games, and maybe that's the wrong view. It's just getting to the point where there's almost not a word for it anymore. It's so frustrating it almost kills you."
In truth, I can't fault the effort of the Bruins. For the most part they've been skating their asses off, winning battles, killing penalties and carrying the play in games. But the fact of the matter is that right now the results aren't there. During the current nine game losing streak, the lines have been changed exactly two times -- to accommodate the the return of Marc Savard and Marco Sturm from their respective injuries. Each night, the lineup that is put on the ice is the same lineup that has scored 28 goals in the 15 games since the Winter Classic. That reflects poorly on both coach Claude Julien for refusing to back down from what isn't working and GM Peter Chiarelli for not having the gall to tell the players in the locker room that the production is unacceptable and for refusing to make a bigger move than putting Adam McQuaid on the 95 shuttle and switching Shawn Thornton and Byron Bitz on the fourth line.
A team that has dropped from 5th in the Eastern Conference to 12th over the span of a month should not be satisfied with futility and status quo. Something needs to change. I advocated waiving Matt Hunwick in my last blog and I stand by that after he committed a stupid penalty that led to a Montreal PP goal and committed several turnovers in his own zone for what felt like the 50th game in a row. But it's not his fault that Julien continues to put him on the PK unit while Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Wideman (who has picked up his play of late) stay on the bench.
Despite the good effort being put on the ice and continuing improvement in the shots on goal department, this team is not talented enough to stand pat. There are not enough dangerous goal scorers and offensive threats to think everything will be OK. And until Peter Chiarelli decides to put his big boy pants on, it won't be OK.