Roadie: Mid-February thoughts on the state of the Bruins
It’s February 16th. It’s that time of year when the summer’s expectations begin to fade, and the fervor and prospect of the Stanley Cup playoffs could into view and start to unfold. The trade deadline looms in 11 days. It’s a rarely a make-or-break date for teams, especially those with aspirations of a deep Cup run. Perhaps the day has bore more fruit for the eventual holders of top draft picks snagged in these exchanges. Nevertheless, this post isn’t about the trade deadline (I’ll write more on that soon), but about where the Bruins stand as a club on this day in February, and as they head west to Winnipeg to for the second game of the season’s longest road-trip.
A similarly long trip was taken last February and March by the Bruins. During the trip the team reached its regular season apex, gelling as a group and pulling its acquisitions into the the fold.
Last night in Montreal the team eeked out a fantastic win in a hard-fought game against a Montreal team that barely resembled the one they’d faced earlier in the season. The new Montreal throws more hits, physical nd what it lacks in shooting and skills, it now makes up for in traffic and chaos. They are exciting, and while they probably won’t crack the playoffs, they are a team that had best continue to challenge the Bruins to reinvent themselves. Close games like this should be expected in the coming weeks.
And now, five thoughts on the state of the Bruins.
1. This harkens right back to that final point: the Bruins won more than a few games by outlandish margins earlier in the year. They need to knock that idea from their heads and get accustomed to playing one-goal games. That means fewer penalties, more focus, tighter D. They are fully capable of it.
2. Patrice Bergeron has blossomed further into the offensive start we knew he could be. Last night Bergeron won every single race to a loose puck he could. And he has the deft hands and timely shots needed in this later stage of the regular season. He’s made the new top line hum without much fanfare, but I see him eclipsing Seguin and Marchand offensively.
3. Tuukka. Alright, alright, I’ve been riding the Tuukka Train hard the last two months. But I do believe the quality of Thomas’s play is on the decline and shifting more weight to Tuukka is critical. Yes, the game in Buffalo last Thursday was a dud if ever there was one. But Thomas is not tracking pucks well right now and the team must experiment while it can (or, maybe they always can).
4. When will we see Nathan Horton? Concussions remain the toughest nut to crack of all. There’s a chance Horton will be back in two weeks, there’s a chance we may not see him again. I don’t know. His Sestito-induced concussion was originally termed “mild.” Mild is always a risky word. Claude Julien refused comment two weeks ago, then said Horton was back at square one. He is a significant offensive weapon, and the team needs him.
5. David Krejci, where have you gone? Oh, never mind. This happens. See you soon.