With the Bruins in dire straits down 3-1 to the Hurricanes, I find myself wondering just where the Bruins team is that I watched for some 87 games this season?
What happened on that power play last Sunday in Boston when Matt Cullen scored that SH goal to put the canes up 2-0 and clinch game 2 of the second round.
The Bruins were bewildered on that power play and have played pretty consistently since then....consistently bad that is!!!
Was game 1 of this series an anomaly? I think so and here's why: Carolina coming off an emotional 7 game series against the Devils, just 80 seconds from defeat come from behind to win the series. With no time at all to relish in this amazing feat against King Brodeur and the Devils, the Canes must now focus on the top seed in the East and the Best Defensive team in hockey. Basically another Devils team. They can take the been there done that attitude for sure! I think the Canes were a bit tired in game 1 and Boston had roughly 10 days off and it showed in period two when the Bruins took control of that game. Since that Cullen shorty, it's looked the other way around. Boston has looked like the tired team and Carolina has had an amazing jump in their legs, putting pressure on Boston's defense, winning the corner battles, picking up the loose pucks in front of the net and winning the war of special teams.
Sounds like a recipe for success doesn't it? It also doesn't help that your Goaltender is seeing a majority of the shots he faces and when he doesn't the opponent hits the post or misses the net entirely!!!
Now onto some of the reasons that I feel the Bruins aren't the Bruins that I've watched all season and in the first round.
1) The layoff: I don't care what people say, the rest will do you good etc. The schedule has enough rest built into it. Playing every other day, This series had an extra day between games 2 & 3 even. After an emotional series against Montreal where the boys were able to act on avenging last season's 7 game disappointment it was important that they got right back to work. Especially since most of these guys never played an opponent in the playoffs other than Montreal!
2) The PP: It's struggling and it has been since game 2 against the Canadiens. Carolina feels no threat at all for playing physical when going into game 4 they had as many goals on the Bruins pp as Boston did! Too much noodling and passing around waiting for gaping shooting lanes that aren't there in the playoffs. You need to get things back to basics. Get the shot points through and have Lucic screening and Recchi redirecting in front of Ward!
3) Matchups: I'm stealing this one from Ek, but I agree with it whole heartedly when I read it. Julien all year long, rolled 4 lines no matter what. He also rewarded guys with playing time on PP & PK based on their play during the games. Now...he spent so much time pulling Chara on and off the ice depending on what Staal was doing, that big Z looked and played like he was on a Island, LONG ISLAND!!!
He hasn't looked like the Norris trophy candidate since then. If he is playing nearly 30 minutes against the Rangers in January, then I want him playing 30 when it matters the most!!!
4) The Defense: These guys as a whole look lost out there...nobody is taking care of the front of the net since game 1. The Bruins defense should be able to handle the likes of Jokkinen, Samsonov, Cullen and Larose in front of the net. But the way these guys are playing in front of Thomas, the smaller Canes forwards have no fear going to the net.
5) Thomas: Too many rebounds Timmy. Are those new pads? They sure are acting like it!!! Too many juicy rebound for the man they call "Juice". I mean will he have this many points in an 82 game season next year???!!! This hurts even more when your defense is playing the way it is.
6) Kessel, Ryder and Krecji: When I think of these three in this series...I can hear an old tv show "car 54 where are you"? Where are these guys???
They look like the puck the has traces of swine flu on it when it comes near them and they can't wait to get rid of it!
7) Wheeler: A big blunder by Julien with the way he's handled Blake the last few games of the regular season and playoffs. Dropping him to the fourth line???!!! Taking him off special teams? Look I can understand wanting to move PJ up the depth chart for experience and defensive responsibilty...but Wheeler no longer looks like the player who was challenging for the Calder earlier in the season.
His timing is off, he looks slower and weaker and very indecisive with the puck. I'll ask Julien this...did he handle Krecji, Lucic and Sobotka this way during last seasons playoffs? No and they became the players they are today because of the confidence they gained last spring. Julien dropped the ball here and we could sure use the good old Wheels at this point of the series!
8) Hunwick: Boy do I miss Matt Hunwick!!! He was the missing link in Boston's defense for years. A puck rushing defenseman who has the wheels to get back. Great offensive skills...but extremely competitive defensively. Watching Hnidy, Stuart and Ward struggle to get the puck of the zone and springboard the transition game has made the Carolina forwards look like Shutt and Gainey on the forecheck!!!
9) Lucic: Since the suspension in the Montreal series Milan looks like a Pit Bull skating around with a big white protective collars around their necks so they don't take a bite out of someone! C'mon Looch, play your damn game...bang some bodies, crash the net and beat the hell out of someone if you need to. Just show some emotion....Can Carolina acquire Komisarek's rights for the rest of the series???
10) The hometown crowd: In game 2 the minute the Bruins went down 0-2 the crowd started thinking about Big Papi's slump, The Garnettless Celtics and Brady's knee! You guys better be ready in game 5, because the Carolina crowd has been going wild the last two games and it has nothing to do with King Richard Petty sounding the horn or 1/2 price beers at the next NASCAR race!!!
The folks are behind their team and it is paying off dividends...it truly is a man advantage in Raleigh!!!
Well that's about it for now....I hope this ends up being a repeat of WAS-NYR in round 1...but I doubt it. Maybe the Bruins can pay a visit to Fox's Dollhouse and have the team from Nov-Jan imprinted on their brains? How bad is that...I made a bad television show reference during the playoffs!!! LOL