"Charlie, here comes the deuce. And when you speak of me, speak well. "
- Crash Davis, Bull Durham
We should have known what was coming. After all, Boston had an embarrassing and bitter defeat at the hand of the Montreal Canadians the game before. Meanwhile, their goalie, Tim Thomas was tapped to be an all star and to join Isles goalie Rick DiPietro when Martin Brodeur needed to miss the game due to a "family" reasons. Thomas had some jump, having a masterful performance, stonewalling many Isle tries. And the Bruins dug the Isles ditch early with two quick goals, then two more.
Were the Isles looking ahead a bit to some rest? Maybe Rick a tad distracted by his first call to the All Star game? Maybe. Moreover, it was a good goalie stepping up and a team who came out with incentive to wipe away a tough loss with taking the next team to task.
"Why's he calling me meat? I'm the one driving a Porsche."
- 'Nuke' LaLoosh, Bull Durham
When interviewed after the game, Ted Nolan cited mistakes made. And it made me wonder, with the talent and gaps we have, might this never change? That you get what you pay for? How many times have we heard about mistakes, gaffes, things not done, things missing? Almost every loss. The reason we sit at the edge of the playoff spots is due to the lack of certain elements, which was clear even before training camp.
Don't get me wrong. Nolan wants more, and should demand more. And he IS doing a good job at that. But this teams downfall is itself, and this might never change this season. Not with the current personnel. The Isles tried to find those sleepers and depth guys, but sometimes there is a reason that they are either sleeping or stuck into the depths.
But all is not lost. This team is achieving what many already predicted. That some already knew that the shedding of Yashin and Blake, due to character (the former) and cost/contract (both), that there would be a dropoff in offense plus major changes to overcome. That has happened and is still a work in progress. And a couple of minor to mid-level deals by a savvy Garth Snow could be all the difference to jump to the middle-tier of the playoff bunch.
Nolan was asked bluntly last night if at the start of the season, would he and the team would take 8th place and 54 points at this juncture. He did not miss a beat. He said yes. And therein lies the crux. The Isles are still in the thick of things and in a good position for the stretch. They just need to find something either internal to take charge or have those gaps addressed to really make more of it. And that's what we all seem to be waiting for.
After all, so many other teams are in the same boat. Something has to give.
So, yes, another frustrating loss to give us contemplation over this All Star break. But half full or half empty that glass be, we certainly can upgrade the liquid from Coors Light to some tasty domestic. That so far, what has been shown that we are just good enough to cling to the playoff picture, but just like 'Nuke' LaLoosh, still have very little control on actual trajectory and distance we might go.