December 31, 2009
1. The four centers. All four continue to play extremely well. Vladimir Sobotka continues to impress with his physical and well-rounded game. He definitely deserves a spot on this team when everyone is fully healthy. Marc Savard added another great game, probably one of his best since returning from injury.
2. Tuukka Rask. “Two U’s, two K’s, two points”. Not going to lie, I kind of liked that from Jack Edwards. While he does say some strange stuff, this one wasn’t bad. Rask continues to play well despite not receiving constant playing time. While the Bruins want Thomas to get going, Rask is the hot hand and he should be seeing more playing time then he receives.
3. Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite being down 4-0 and being the lone man defending two 2 on 1s, Kovalchuk made two real nice defensive plays. He looked dangerous to start the game but as the game progressed and the Bruins extended their lead, Kovalchuk slowly disappeared. He gets an up because of those defensive plays. By the way, I’ll take him on my team any day.
1. Blake Wheeler. The sophomore slump continues for Wheeler. Is it just me or does Wheeler look either lost or disinterested out there? At one point in the game he laid a real nice check. However, that check was in the neutral zone on linemate David Krejci, taking both players out of the play.
2. Daniel Paille. Could have had a hat trick tonight. Despite having great speed and playing a sound overall game, he needs to work on his shooting accuracy.
3. Ondrej Pavelec. 6 goals allowed on only 18 shots in the previous two games against the Bruins.
December 29, 2009
1. Marco Sturm. Sturm was motivated and determined all night long and by far the Bruins best overall player. Sturm added his team leading 12th goal and nearly tied the game but rang it off the post instead. It’s a little unfortunate Sturm wasn’t out there for more than the 16:44 he skated.
2. Patrice Bergeron. Another dominate faceoff game for Bergeron. Won 18 of 24 faceoffs (75%) and lead the Bruins forwards in ice time.
3. Daniel Paille. The speedy forward continues to play well and is great on the PK. If his hands weren’t as bad as P.J. Axelsson’s he could have ten goals already this season.
1. Steve Begin. What has this guy done this season to be promoted to the first line? Another invisible game from Begin despite skating nearly 15 minutes worth of ice time. The Begin era on the first line is almost as bad as the Bitz experiment. It needs to end.
2. Byron Bitz. Another ineffective game from the fourth line winger. Despite recording a “fight” he finished the night with zero shots and only one hit. Hopefully once Lucic comes back, Bitz or Begin(very unlikely) are scratched and Sobotka remains in the lineup.
3. Claude Julien. One minute to go in the game and Recchi is on the ice for the 6 on 4. Sturm and Krejci, arguably the best two players on the ice last night, were on the bench. The team has grown boring to watch and the players have almost no emotion. Playing the same strategy and lines shift after shift, game after game may be a result of that play. Switching up the lines on occasion may help keep things fresh.
December 27, 2009
Tim Thomas will get the start tonight against the Florida Panthers. Tuukka Rask is expected to start the second of the back to back games against Tampa Bay tomorrow night. Derek Morris, who missed the previous two games with an undisclosed injury, is expected to start tonight but will not play along side usual partner Zdeno Chara. Instead Morris is expected to be paired with Matt Hunwick. Here is the rest of the expected lineup:
December 26, 2009
Milan Lucic has been skating for the past week but has yet to practice with the rest of the team. The majority of his skating has been with the training and coaching staffs. Lucic will make the trip with the Bruins to Florida but is not expected to play in either game.
Encouraging news that Lucic is skating, especially multiple times this week. I would not expect him to return until after the two games in Florida but he should be available for the Winter Classic and possibly for Wednesday’s game against Atlanta. When Lucic comes back expect Begin to be bumped back to the fourth line with Vladimir Sobotka and Byron Bitz fighting for the final roster spot.
December 25, 2009
Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all.
December 21, 2009
Well just when I was calling for a center to be put on Savard’s wing, Claude Julien followed through on my request. However, it is Steve Begin, a career fourth liner, being promoted to skate on the top unit. First Byron Bitz now Begin? The Bruins should be moving away from the roll four line mentality and giving more minutes to the skill players instead of the grinders.
December 20, 2009
It’s apparent these new lines are obviously not working, especially the first line. Marc Savard hasn’t recorded a point in the previous fives games which resulted in the Bruins losing four straight. A lack of chemistry and inconsistent wingers can contribute to that that. So instead of simply rolling the same combinations over and over again, why not try something new? I know it is not traditional, like the way Claude Julien likes to coach, but putting Bergeron on the wing may be an answer to a struggling first line. Bergeron and Sturm have great chemistry together so putting them with Savard will only help all three players. This line could match up strength for strength against other team’s top lines. Wheeler,Krejci, and Ryder work best when all three are on a line together. The third line now will consist of Sobotka in the middle between Paille and Recchi. Sobotka has played strong hockey in the past few games, a clear indication that he is much better and more comfortable at center. Putting the fourth line back together will make them all more effective, as we have seen earlier in the season, especially since Byron Bitz has hands worse than P.J. Axelsson and should not be anywhere near the top two lines.
I know, Bergeron is the Bruins best center so why move him to wing? Well, because he can still take all the important draws in both offensive and defensive zones. Nothing would change there since Julien often puts two centers on the ice for faceoffs anyway. Looking back on previous teams, and effective ones at that, they always put two centers on their top lines. Look at Detroit and Pittsburgh. Zetterberg and Datysuk are the two most dominant centers on that team. Over the course of the past three seasons Mike Babcock uses a combination of them together on the top line and then separates if need be. Same goes for Malkin and Crosby. Now look at San Jose this season. Marleau and Thornton have almost played excusively on a line together and are nothing short of dominate ( having Heatley helps a little too). However, they still get put on the ice separately to take key draws and kill penalties.
The Bruins are seriously lacking offensive depth so why not load up on two lines? Having two good to very good lines would give the Bruins much more of an opportunity to produce offense than having three mediocre lines. I know it isn’t the balanced roll four equal line mentality, but deviating away from that thinking may not be a bad idea, especially the way Sobotka has been playing since being moved back to center.