Desperate to Find the Next Gear

"Desperation is the raw material of drastic change.
Only those who can leave behind everything they have ever believed in
Can hope to escape." 
- William S. Burroughs 

Folks, let's be honest here. The game was over when Wheeler tied it up last night. You knew it. I knew it. And this fact raises an ego-shattering question in the collective heart of Boston Bruins fandom: Is Boston's recent inability to hold a lead a minor hiccup caused by fatigue or is it a symptom of playing a system that restricts offense in order to bolster defense? 

The Bruins are in the middle of a stacked schedule having played 11 games in the past 20 days. The wear of the road is having an obvious effect on the roster, namely in the way players seem to be dropping like flies. First, Chris Kelly is probably done for the rest of the season after he breaks his leg in a collision with Chris Neil. Then David Krecji goes down (who knows how long) after stopping a Johnny Boychuk slap shot with the inside of his knee.Then, last night, McQuaid goes shoulder first into the boards after a hit by Eric Tangradi. But fatigue and a rash of freak injuries doesn't account for the way you can set your watch to the game the Bruins have played as of late: slow to start, pick up the pace at the end of first and most of the second, piss themselves in the third. And, as it pertains to the schedule, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. If the problem is fatigue then Boston better find that next gear real quick. The majority of games played in April are in the Garden but pace is kept. The Boston Bruins will play a game every other day with a back to back (away at the Devils then home against the Islanders) thrown in there for good measure. The season is already lost if the Bruins have resigned themselves to being victims of a shitty schedule. 

I truly believe that the Boston Bruins have become victims of the system they play and last nights game against the Jets is the perfect example. There was absolutely no fore check whatsoever and the same was evident in the loss to Pittsburgh. And if Boston has played aggressively in their opponents end it has been late in the first and through the second. Never in the third period. Bruins forwards seem so conscious of getting caught up ice they are giving up on plays that would otherwise lead to a least a shot on net. Teams are keeping all of the Bruins forwards to the outside and you just can't win games taking shots from the point all the time. Last night Tyler Seguin took at least three shots from the blue line in lieu of carrying it into the zone. If I may ask, what the fuck is the point of that? Here is our star forward blasting shots from 64 feet out into Pavelec's pads then just giving up on the play when the puck is glanced at by a Jets defender. Of the small handful of scoring chances the Bruins had last night, one was when Zdeno Chara actually pinched down and got into the play rather than sitting at the blue line waiting for the one-timer. Why does that play have to be a desperation move in the third period after blowing a lead?

The question remains:  Is Boston's recent inability to hold a lead a minor hiccup caused by fatigue or is it a symptom of playing a system that restricts offense in order to bolster defense? When the Bruins play Claude Julien's system the way it supposed to be played they are the toughest team in the NHL to play against. But it has to be a combination of lock-down defense and a strong net front presence. Recently it seems that it's one or the other and Boston cannot win like that. This system is a balancing act and if one side is lacking the whole goddamn thing comes tumbling down. It's obvious the injury situation has to be addressed and we can only hope Chiarelli is wheeling and dealing for reinforcements. A trade isn't the cure though. The Bruins have to find their next gear and fight through whatever it is that is restricting them from playing the type of game they are completely capable of playing.

Eric Tangradi
Eric Tangradi