The Bruins front office may see some changes coming. (Photo via: The Hockey Feed)
With a rather disappointing season finally coming to a close, the Bruins still find themselves battling for the final wild card spot. The Senators and Panthers have no intention of slowing down, leaving the Bruins with no breathing room. An impressive performance at the TD Garden on Saturday afternoon saw the Bruins play smart and physical hockey against the Rangers, a clear favorite to hoist Lord Stanley's cup, to earn themselves two more points in a 4-2 victory. Don't be fooled, the final games remaining will be no savoir in the end. Changes will be made in the front office and in player personnel. Boston has had the resources to maintain their position as one of the NHL's best clubs and simply will not accept a lackluster performance... something we have seen far too much of this season.
The menacing injury bug has been a plague across this Bruins roster all year long with David Krejci and Kevan Miller both missing a half of a season, new addition Brett Connolly fracturing his finger in his first practice, and Zdeno Chara missing significant time in the beginning stages of the season, however, it's just no excuse. Injuries not only plague the Bruins, but many other teams around the league. The difference in some of these situations has been the ability of players to step up when needed. Go above and beyond what you're normally capable of achieving, the exact definition of Boston's "Seventh Player Award." Has there really been a player on this roster that has exceeded expectations for longer than a handful of games? Is this due to a lack of coaching?
Claude Julien has been at the helm of the hockey club for almost eight years and really established the defensive and physical identity the Bruins are typically known for. Has he been a part of the problem this season? Many would think not. He stands up for his players and although he was in no rush to transition his coaching methods to a different style of game, he has adjusted and tinkered with pieces of his game plan to try and get the best possible result. Shuffling players around to find the right chemistry, Julien has taking multiple approaches to better this team and shades of that have shown over the second half of the season. It's all about the pieces you have in place, so has Boston made the right personnel decisions?
That leads us to Peter Chiarelli, the true man on the "hot seat" in the organization. Ever since the trade of Tyler Seguin, the Boston fan base has had little faith in his decision making ability. Anybody can look back two years after a trade and regret what they did, but it's not quite what Chiarelli had in mind. Loui Eriksson has been average at best. Reilly Smith fit in really well last season but has really struggled to hit the mark this year, recently being demoted to third line. Matt Fraser was claimed off of waivers by Edmonton and Joe Morrow has not had the chance to prove himself at the NHL level. Next was the trade of Johnny Boychuk. One of the fan favorites, Boychuk was shipped out of town for two second round draft picks. After seeing what the insane value of a defenseman was going for at the trade deadline, wouldn't it have been wiser to keep him at least until the trade deadline? We can all agree that he wouldn't have been affordable enough to extend(maybe), but we all know that there was one more year left on that deal for a player who wanted to be here and could have given us an extra boost when it was really needed. On top of these horrendous trades, we have had to deal with poor contract extensions that will prove to be an up and coming issue. Milan Lucic signed a fat extension worth $6 million a year a few years ago and is now facing free agency. His play has not been up to par with what he makes per year and was even mixed into early trade conversations. Lucic is fan favorite and I'd love to see him stay.. his game is electrifying when he is on point, but it needs to be for the right price and that's something I'm not sure the fan base is comfortable with Chiarelli handling. Many also questioned the amount of money David Krejci just received back in September. Chiarelli was expecting a much larger increase in the cap that ultimately will not be so large and again, can potentially hurt the future of the club. These moves do overshadow the fact that Chiarelli has been quite successful over his campaign in Boston and they ultimately could lead to his demise. With these recent blunders in team management, the Bruins really can't afford to hand out questionable extensions to players and risk the future of the organization.
This is Boston, though. We don't tank, we are a sports town. Boston will not fold in these final games and they shouldn't. A lot of people will say "tank" your way to the end for a mere 2% chance at the top pick of the draft. This is highly unlikely and should not be a driving force of how the Bruins play for the remainder of the season. Making the playoffs is essential but it won't necessarily guarantee anyone's job. A first round embarrassment wont make the ownership happy so it's up to the players and Claude Julien to try and salvage what's left of worn down ship. I know I still have my playoff beard and towels ready!
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