Saturday, February 18, 2012

The "Big Bad What?" The Bruins- Don't Poke the Bear (Cub)



When I sat down to write this I thought I was going to be "analytical" about the topic. I figured I would throw some statistics at you, maybe go into some in-depth analysis as to why the Bruins are playing the way they are playing right now. Now, I find as I sit here that that just wouldn't be nearly as therapeutic as telling it (Dan style) how it is, simple and straight forward...

I grew up following a Boston Bruins hockey team that was filled- year-after-year- with heart, guts, talent, and hall of famers... and unfortunately always followed a road that ultimately stopped short of the Stanley Cup.

That is... until last season. The season which brought back a long-since evaded term- "The Big Bad Bruins." The Big Bad Bruins who shocked the shit out of all hockey fans, by turning an average hockey team into Stanley Cup champions by way of excellent goal tending, and balls the size of goddamn grape fruits

So this season they turn around and start the season like 3-7 in their first 10 games. Don't worry, don't worry, the bastards turn it around in November and December and go on a seventeen game winning spree (or something like that), becoming the most dominant team in the NHL and averaging 6 goals per game. To that point it seemed the Big Bad Bruins would continue their dominant, bullying ways throughout this '11-'12 season.

But now... here we are in February (yea, it's f'ing February believe it or not, even though it was 50 degrees the other day) and Boston has found itself 11-10-1 in their last 22 games. The reason for this is simple. They have puss'ed out lately. They've lost their edge, and because of that one could make the argument that teams are beginning to figure them out. The true fact of this matter however, is simple. There are four key elements that they are lacking right now, which they were absolutely dominating in throughout November and December:

#1) Defense - Throughout the course of their massive winning spree opposing teams were scoring one... maybe two goals per game against them. They were shutting teams down with fore and back checking, dominating in offensive zone possession because they were keeping the puck out of their own zone, and were muscling opponents away from the front of the net upon the entrance of their defensive zone.

#2) Crashing the Net - If you look back at the games in which they were destroying teams 6-1, or 6-3, you will notice a trend. They had bodies everywhere! If there was a shot on goal you could almost guarantee there would be at least two black and gold jerseys right there, waiting for a rebound. And with the talent for scoring that this team possesses, goals are inevitable.

#3) Skating- This is a very simple concept in hockey. Keep your damn feet moving! skate like you want it more than your opponent does. Win puck battles in the corners, and beat opponents to loose pucks. I can't even tell you how many games I remember watching during Boston's spree where I swore to the hockey gods that they had puck possession for like 90% of the game. The reason for this was because they were skating like it was game seven of the damn playoffs.

#4) Physicality - A casual hockey fan could point this out. Until recently the Bruins were a physically dominating force on the ice. Teams simply could not compete with them because they were so punishing, both against the boards and in open ice. And I don't even need to get into the fighting aspect. Nobody wanted to fight them because it would be a damn-near inevitable embarrassment.

So soak that in a bit. Now I'm sure you know where I'm going next with this. I'm going to tell you that they're not doing any of that now. You're so smart!

Their Defense is blowing assignments and turning the puck over in their own zone like they have bets on the games (and they ain't bettin' on Boston, fuckers!). They aren't skating hard, and therefore they're only winning about half of their puck battles and races to loose pucks, and are getting F'ing man-handled in the offensive zone. Their physical play has softened more than a ninety year old without male enhancement (i.e. not finishing checks, and well... c'mon, Montreal just knocked them around the ice!). Not to mention that it would seem that no one is afraid to drop the gloves with them lately.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that The Big Bad Bruins of late appear to be more like the Big Bad Bruins' misfit children. They need to wake up and rewind to the time when they were a great hockey team. Back a long time ago. Back when I was sporting my Boston Bruins Santa hat.

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