A lot has been made of Boston's slow start to the season offensively, and some fans are starting to freak out. Expectations were high, and many of the Bruins faithful were probably a bit overly optimistic in expecting this team to put up huge numbers from the get-go. I am here to tell you to just be patient and relax. I mean at least we aren't the Flyers, am I right? There have been flashes of our offensive potential in the 5 games thus far. We just need these flashes to last over a full 60 minutes and not only for a shift or two. The keys to sustaining solid offense over a full game? Getting back to the basics.
1.) Screens on Screens on Screens
photo via o.canada.com
We do a good job on the power play of getting guys in front of the net to block the goalie's vision. But, we need to do this in 5 on 5 situations as well. With the exception of Brad Marchand, every one of our forwards is 6'0" tall or above. We have great size and just need to play more to this strength. Guys like 6'3", 235 lbs Milan Lucic and 6'3", 204 lbs Jordan Caron are built for this sort of thing. Stick them in front of the goalie and let them go to work. The only thing we have to do after that is get shots on goal.
2.) Hit the net
We aren't a team that wins by picking corners and unloading. Never have been, never will be under Coach Julien. We win key faceoffs, get pucks to the net, and dig deep in the corners, winning the tough battles as we grind away offensively in front of a suffocating D and solid goaltending. That's Bruins hockey. That's how we won the cup in 2011. And that's how we'll win the cup this year. There is a time and place for picking corners, but when guys like Torey Krug and Johnny Boychuk are letting howlitzers go from all kinds of angles and missing the net completely, there are no opportunities for any second chances. This is not meant to call them out, there are several other players who have been guilty of this, and it's just poor hockey. You're taught from a young age to 'hit the net' because when you hit the net, good things happen. Completely missing the net leads to wasted opportunities and odd man chances the other way. Against the Red Wings we had 30 shots on goal, but had another 17 shots miss the net entirely. 17 is a hell of a lot of opportunities wasted. This is a simple fix and something that I am sure Claude Julien has discussed with his team already.
Hockey is arguably the sport where chemistry matters the most. You can't just add new faces and Boom, just like that everything clicks. In the MLB maybe, but in the NHL? Not a chance. With the exception of the Merlot Line, there is at least one new face on every offensive line. These players need time together, and not just practice time. They need real game experience together against real competition. Maybe it'll take 10 games, maybe 20, maybe even 30, but guys like Iginla and Eriksson will start to settle into their roles and will start to generate some offense.
It's early, but worrying is one of the responsibilities that comes with your job as a sports fan. I'll admit that it's been frustrating watching the Bruins offense these first few games, but I have liked some of what I've seen, and hopefully it all comes together soon. When an offense is struggling, the best thing it can do is to get back to the basics. Get players in front of the net, and get pucks to the net. It really is as simple as that. I expect big things from this group of B's, but they just have to slow things down and play their game.
Comment Question: How do you feel about the Bruin's Offense so far?