Negative Creep

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Last night’s 4-3 win in Tampa Bay against an extremely decent Lightning team gave the Bruins two consecutive road wins on back-to-back nights and 3 wins in a row overall. Thay have lept over the Canadiens for the Northeast Division lead. Steve Kampfer scored his first NHL goal. Mark Recchi scored the game-winner on a power play resulting from a questionable boarding call on superstar Steven Stamkos with just 19 seconds left in the game.

All is right with the world. Right?

Not so fast. I feel like there are still a lot of troubling issues with this Bruins team right now. Let us discuss.

Line combinations. Everyone is talking about the reuininting of the Krejci-Wheeler-Ryder like it’s some sort of revelation, a genius move that sparked the offense. While they have showed some of the chemistry from a few years back in these initial games I feel like it’s not the best move in the long term because of what it’s done to the other lines.

Marc Savard is not ready to be a first line center in the NHL again. Not yet, anyway. The first line that had been so effective has been flat of late and, while Milan Lucic continues to generate scoring chances, Nathan Horton seems to have gone completely cold and I see no connection whatsoever between the two wingers and their new center. If there was a need to switch Krejci out of that spot to fire up his game then I think the more effective Patrice Bergeron should have been moved into that spot, as he was when Krejci was injured.

Meanwhile, Tyler Seguin is seeming a bit lost out there, a man without a spot, now riding the wing with Bergeron and Recchi who work reasonable well together. Seguin doesn’t seem to fit on that line, really. Guys who grind, work hard and are responsible defensively and a youngster who is all speed and potential offense. It doesn’t work for me and it seems Julien has slotted the young forward there as a default position because there are no other slots. I’m thinking even Daniel Paille would look better on that line.

What’s the solution? Why not give Savard and Seguin another chance together and limit their ice time? Keep Recchi with them. The old guy could use the rest. It’s a potentially dangerous offensive unit if used correctly, against other team’s lesser units. Meanwhile, more productive centers like Bergeron and Krejci are paired with more productive wingers.

More negative thoughts from your favorite font of bitterness.

Milan Lucic needs to be more of a leader. It would seem he was built for the role, a big, physical winger who can score and inspire the team. However, what I see from him these days is less hitting, less physicality and more whining. A half season as a successful goal-scorer seems to have gone directly to his head and the hard-working, buzzing, emotional leader has been replaced by a guy who, because of his reputation for on-the-edge dirty play and his constant whining to the refs, is getting called for a lot of penalties lately. He may be young but he’s been around long enough to understand his role as a potential leader here. The team needs more from him in that department.

Leadership on the whole is an issue with this team. Guys in place who are supposed to fill that role just seem too passive to me. Chara, Bergeron, Lucic, Horton. Veterans all and the team’s best players but guys who seem to do things too quietly. For some reason, also, I feel like no one in that room is going to listen to Marc Savard in that role. Another guy who just does too much whining on the ice.

Again, we wonder about the personell on the team. Ryder, Wheeler, Krejci. Quiet quys. Skilled players but lacking in that grit and fire that Bruins fans long to see.

In the end there remains something unsettling about this current Bruins team. Perhaps it’s PTSD from last year’s playoff collapse. I feel unconvinced that this is the team that can take us to the Promised Land and the Holy Chalice that awaits there. It seems it’s all about character right now or lack thereof.

Where can we find some?

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