Head Coach Claude Julian’s job in Beantown is safe...
Meeting with the media on Wednesday morning at the Ristuccia Arena prior to the Bruins taking the ice, General Manager Peter Chiarelli was adamant about the fact that results have to come from the players, coaches, and upper management. A sincere top to bottom effort.
According to Chiarelli, the entire hockey club is responsible for finding a way out of this current 2-7-1 slide that has moved the Bruins from a comfortable position in the standings to merely a point away from the 8th and final playoff spot in the East.
Wasn't this essentially the same roster that dominated the Eastern Conference last year?
The real question Bruins fans have to be wondering is whether this current group is good enough to not only lock up a top eight spot in the Eastern Conference, but finally make a serious run at a Stanley Cup. At this point in the season, it's hard to argue the Bruins really pose a serious threat to the Penguins, Capitals, and Devils teams they would likely have to beat along the way.
On one hand, the Bruins injury woes have been terrible this year. The return of top line superstar center Marc Savard should give the Bruins the lift they desperately need moving forward. He's appeared in only 21 games this season, and his most recent injury, a partial MCL tear in his right knee, will require him to wear a brace. But his presence on and off the ice cannot be discounted.
On the flip side, Savard is not your clutch scorer. He's not the guy who's going to put the team on his shoulders like a Malkin, Crosby, or Ovechkin in the playoffs and mount the comeback on his own. He's a great playmaker, possibly the best in the game right now, but great playmakers need to be paired with dynamic scorers to truly thrive. With this fall's trade of Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs, right now that scorer is not on the Bruins roster. It's probably safe to say until they find him, this team will not win a Cup.
With that in mind, how does does Peter Chiarelli approach the next few weeks leading up to the NHL trade deadline? He's drafted exceptionally well and locked up a great core of young talent. The depth of this year's draft crop is outstanding and with the poor season Toronto is having, the picks acquired in the Kessel trade will be very valuable. There may be an opportunity to build a package around those picks to acquire an impact player like Ilya Kovalchuk at the deadline. If that chance arises, does Chiarelli go all in and pull the trigger, or does he hold off and enhance the depth chart of the organization?
This week, the group was starting to look whole again, but it didn't stop Chiarelli, Assistant GM Benning and Vice President Cam Neely from attending practice to evaluate the current group and get a feel for what they are up against a little over a month from now. When the Bruins enter the war room on the morning of March 3rd, they will have a clear understanding of where they stand with regards to post-season play. For now though, they must find ways to collect valuable points before it becomes too late.
The current roster is in place for the 2010-11 season on paper, but on the ice, if they aren't good enough to win the Stanley Cup this season, don't try and fix something that isn't necessarily broken. Peter Chiarelli knows what he has in terms of depth on the big club and assets currently in Providence, but the most important thing is the future of this team. Don't sacrifice for short term solutions, especially if June hockey is not in the fold.