Monday, November 9, 2009

Injuries Strike in Beantown and Leave Bruins Searching For Direction

The Boston Bruins finished the 2008-09 regular season with a shocking 53 wins. That was good for 1st place in the Northeast division and atop the ladder in the Eastern Conference. Within the next month of hockey however, the Bruins were brought back to life, being eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes and stopped just short of a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. A Game 7 overtime goal by NHL veteran Scott Walker not only ended a tremendous 2008-09 campaign for the Bruins, it left the Bruins stunned as they watched the Hurricanes celebrate just days after Walker’s sucker punch to the face of Bruins defensemen Aaron Ward (picture below). Days after the Game 7 loss, General Manager Peter Chiarelli seemed convinced that with the proper roster adjustments in the off-season, the Bruins would be back to where they left off in the 2008-09 season.

Unfortunately for Peter Chiarelli and Head Coach Claude Julien, things have gotten much worse since the domino effect began in May.  Phil Kessel underwent shoulder surgery and the Bruins realized they were unable to sign the restricted free agent.  Luckily, they pulled in a collection of high draft picks from the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the 2009-10 season began with mediocre hockey at best.  This was followed by significant injuries to forwards Marc Savard and Milan Lucic. While the Bruins are short handed due to injuries, the slow start for forward David Krejci has definitely contributed to the lackluster beginning to this season as well. To make matters worse, Krejci has been diagnosed with H1N1 and will join Savard and Lucic on the shelf.

The string of bad luck is followed by the departures of not only Phil Kessel, but also Chuck Kobasew, traded to the Minnesota Wild. Let’s stop for one second and devour all of this, Marc Savard, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Phil Kessel and Chuck Kobasew, all missing in action for the Boston Bruins.  Aside from the Detroit Red Wings, how many teams in the NHL are currently playing without that much talent from last season?

The Bruins were off to a 6-7-2 start heading into Saturday night’s action against the Buffalo Sabres. Most recently, a not so surprising scoring drought left the Bruins without a single goal in just shy of two hundred minutes of hockey, until Patrice Bergeron scored his fifth goal of the season. Yes that’s right, five goals in 15 games. Hey, it’s good enough to lead the club in scoring, but, it’s also bad enough to add to the club’s woes early on. Steve Begin, a well traveled NHL veteran through the waiver wire and via trade, is tied for 3rd on the team in scoring with eight points and one point behind hard nosed defensemen Derek Morris.

After 116 points in the 2008-09 season, it’s evident that the Boston Bruins are no where near the high expectations of the ownership group led by Jeremy Jacobs, General Manager Peter Chiarelli, and especially the fans. Rest assured one thing though, Chiarelli and assistant GM Jim Benning will without a doubt work through the difficult times they are facing with injuries and lack of scoring. The Bruins will be okay eventually, but for now, they have a difficult task ahead. 

With pending free agent center Marc Savard likely to suffer the same fate as Kessel this coming summer, one has to wonder whether the Bruins are gunning for a Cup, or simply in rebuilding mode.  With their most recent Stanley Cup occurring in 1971-72, asking for Bruins fans to be patient won't be easy.

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Chris said...

Big W tonight... Its ok I have faith. Good article though.

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