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Monday, January 21, 2008

Thoughts From The Weekend and Other Rumblings

Quite the impressive weekend for the Bruins as they take all 4 possible points from the two games against the Rangers. The Bruins worked hard in both contests and clearly out hustled an overmatched Rangers squad. I can't believe I'm even saying an "overmatched" Rangers team when the Bruins have basically been fielding a JV squad for weeks now.

With the likes of Nokelainen, Pelletier, and Sobotka, the "Kid Line" has contributed tremendously to the recent success. It's promising to see the youth helping this team out, but what is even more impressive is the coaching this team is getting day in and day out. This past weekend on The New England Hockey Journal radio show, callers were rating Claude Juliens' performance thus far. As far as I'm concerned this guy deserves an A all the way. Julien has instilled a defense-first attitude and a system that clearly players have bought into. The difference is night and day between what we saw last year under the tutelage of Dave Lewis, with basically the same pieces to the puzzle. Even though the B's current record of 24-18-5 doesn't merit the "A," it's the production that Julien has worked out of these players to get to this point that does. In no way shape or form would this team be in the thick of the playoff race if Lewis was still the coach.

I admit it, I was a Mike Milbury supporter from the moment I heard his named mentioned for the vacant bench boss position. However, I realize now that my desire to see Milbury coaching was just so I could relive the late 80's and early 90's memories that are LONG gone. It's a much different game today and Claude Julien was the perfect hire by Chiarelli.

As for another thought, to you folks who think it would be wise to trade Phil Kessel for Alex Tanguay or any other veteran that could possibly make some sort of contribution, you're all nuts. Kessel is still going to be something special in this league and I feels as though I would crucify Chiarelli if he traded him for veteran help. If anything, Kessel's performance over the past couple weeks with Murray and Axelsson out, makes me want to lock him up long term. He is finally starting to battle for pucks, forecheck on a consistent basis, and do the small things that one needs to do to be successful. In the meantime he is also slowly starting to reap those rewards in points by doing these things.

The youth movement is here folks and the future is bright for this team. Alongside Kessel, Milan Lucic, Chuck Kobasew, Tuukka Rask, et al, this team will be very competitive in the near future. Mix in the veteran leadership of Chara, Savard (quietly the best free agent signing over the past two years), and hopefully a healthy Patrice Bergeron, whenever he comes back, and there is reason to be excited. Now the Garden just needs the seats to be filled on game nights.

Don't get me wrong folks, this team is a middle-of-the-road squad that will not win the Stanley Cup this year. Getting to the playoffs is the first step and in the way are teams like Montreal this Tuesday. There is plenty of room for improvement here and it's clearly going to take the same blue collar approach for this team to make it to wherever they want to go.

15 Comments:

Anonymous big-e said...

I agree. In August every hockey analyst had Boston finishing 13th in the East. And if you would have said we wouldn't be the worst team in the league - oh without Murray, Axelsson, Fernandez and oh Bergeron out for the year? I'd say pass the smoke pipe. While Gomez has been impressive at $500K a goal, and you could see the leadership of Jagr and awesome play making of $10MM man Drury (yes sarcasm), Chia has stayed pat and said let's see what this team has to bring. And they have brought heart and determination. I look at this team and say they are playing good. If Murray can come back and average 1 goal every two games (he puts himself in that spot and wres the puck home) Axelsson for that great transition play then we can be a better team. Can we compete aainst the Habs or Sens? The Devils or Penguins? Why not. The only team we have yet to show anything was against Montreal. However the way the team abttled back last week, I am expecting (as I have at every Habs/Bruins game) for Boston to come out flying. And dare we say - Sturn wakes up, Kessel gets the hang of it and Kobasew starts being more consistant? Then this team will get noticed. Interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks. This week in Atlanta the GMs will meet and when it comes to dealine deals, how many have worked out? Guerin in San Jose, Thachuk in Atlanta. Chia seems smart to say you want Kessel? You want Axelsson? Well hey we want something for the next 5 years. Don't give up on Kessel, I can say that this team is also on good defenceman away from being awesome - the less Chara plays the more efficient he is. Which some people would ask - so if he doesn't play at all, does that make us awesome? No.

3:00 PM  
Anonymous spokedb said...

If the Bruins would have just taken at least 4 of the 10 points they gave to Montreal this year, it would be even more impressive.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous xpunkrockelvisx said...

Kessel has recently shown me that he belongs on the first line. He plays impassioned hockey when he gets to play with Savard on the first line. I think he needs to stay with Savard and Sturm. When Axelsson and Murray are back, I like them with Metro on the second line. You can argue as to which one of those lines is better and which is 1st or 2nd, but Kessel seems to have a hard-on for the top line. Even when everyone is back, I want to keep the kids together Pelletier-Krejci-Sobotka brings both energy and offense. I think we're in really good shape up front right now.

9:42 PM  
Anonymous xpunkrockelvisx said...

ummm... I'm not sure how many skaters I am skating in the above scenario... maybe some of the kids need to go down to make room for Lucic and Kobasew who I totally left out of the first three lines.

oops...maybe I'm excited.

9:44 PM  
Anonymous Pork Chop Sandwich said...

Kessel seems impassioned (?) when he is with Savard? He is 19. He should be impassioned every time he puts on the sweater. He is underachieving given his hype. I have watched him skate entire shifts without making any effort to get into the play. The Bruins are winning because they are finally getting decent goaltending, ok defense and some forwards that are completely under appreciated (Lucic, Kobasew, Metro) When the hurt guys come back I hope Julien remembers who has been keeping the ship afloat. I loved watching Reich on the power play the other day in New York. Julien knows exactly how to motivate guys. If Kessel doesn't get it, move him now before he completely slides off the map.

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

Kessel has the skills to be a 30+ goal scorer but I'm not sure how well he fits into the Julien defensive system. Yes Kessel can be effective on this team but he would be worth a lot more to a team that plays end to end fast break hockey.

1:27 PM  
Anonymous big-e said...

Auld gets the start tonight and our top guys defend the number 2 line. Montreal has reunited the top line that has done well last year so I hope the Habs don't pull a quick one. If we finish the first tied or ahead we will win the game. Pray for me as I will be in the reds tonight covered in black and gold. I want someone to pop a Hab in the mouth.

1:41 PM  
Blogger McKeon said...

Tim Thomas to the All-Star game...much deserved

7:40 PM  
Blogger McKeon said...

nothin like an 8-2 beating from montreal...

10:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you have to wait on Phil Kessel. Even Joe Thornton had a few disappointing seasons before he developed into the player he is today. Let the guy develop before jumping on his back...

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

kessel is so overrated

3:00 AM  
Blogger Federko said...

Kessel need to get bigger/stronger and more experience. He has the speed /shot/stick handling skills. Give him another year or two before giving up on him.

So the Habs have the Bs nunber this year.. ont thing that really pisses me off is Carboneau..WTF is he doing taking a timeout after an icing with a 6-1 lead? Are the Habs such arogant f&ks that they have to rub it in a teams face when they are down? Habs suck.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a different note....it will be interesting to see what Kovalchuk gets for his hit from behind. Very similar to Bergy's.

1:16 PM  
Anonymous big-e said...

First time I left a game before the end. Looked like peewee hockey. The Habs should really thank us. 12 points of their season are from beating us - which means they suck outside of playing us, which means we're a better team. A few years ago we owned the regular season and they burned us in the playoffs. Maybe this will be the reverse this year. ANd to the loser Hab fans who love their team - grow some balls and try to fight instead of running away like pussies.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Latrappe said...

Julien deserve an " A " for sure. For one, i was very happy with his hiring since i saw the guy coached in Montreal. The players are now accountable and the effort is there, almost all the time. The team seems to be able to avoid long losing skid and that's huge positive and a step forward in order to be a competitive team.

The team is deplected by injuries but still manage to win. In that regard, Julien make miracle with the lineup he have if you consider that bhe had and will have to rely on young players to take the slack.

4:49 AM  

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