March 14, 2011

Five reasons why this may not be the B's year

Including rookie Tyler Seguin, the Bruins currently have five players that have never skated in a postseason game at the NHL level. (Getty)

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of New England Hockey Journal.

 While there are solid reasons to be optimistic, Bruins fans have become accustomed to being disappointed over the past four decades.

If this season ultimately ends like the previous 38 Cup-less seasons, it likely will be for one of these five reasons:

1. History not on their side

While logic dictates that, eventually, the Bruins will break through and capture hockey’s Holy Grail, all of the events that have transpired in the 39 years since they last did lead one to believe otherwise. When it’s crunch time, the wisest of men have placed their money on anyone but the Bruins. From “too many men” in 1979 to, well, “too many men” in 2010, with unconquerable foes led by the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier in between, the Black and Gold have simply not come through when it mattered most. Who’s to say this season will be any different?

2. Consistently inconsistent

There’s no denying the immense amount of talent the Bruins have up front. But, if the first 60 or so games have been any indication, many of its integral parts can’t be relied on game in and game out. From Nathan Horton (left), who went through a stretch in which he scored just once in 20 games, to the ever-streaky Michael Ryder, an ill-timed funk from one of the Bruins forwards could spell doom in a seven-game series.

3. No elite scorers

Just as most Stanley Cup-winning squads have had rock-solid netminding, there’s almost always been a game-changing forward or two up front. From Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy with the Islanders in the early ’80s to Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane last season for the Blackhawks, nearly every team that’s gone the distance has been led there by a few of the best scorers in the sport. Do the Bruins have a player that fits the description? 

4. Conservative coach

Claude Julien has shown a willingness to mix things up strategically during the season, something for which he certainly deserves credit. However, the veteran bench boss has an affinity for getting a bit too conservative from time to time. Prior to the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Flyers, Julien said that “safe is death,” yet his team went into a complete shell in an attempt to sit on its 3-0 lead. Reverting to his past tendencies could lead to yet another disastrous postseason.

5. Relying on inexperience

Although the Bruins boast a solid group of seasoned veterans when it comes to the playoffs, there are still a number of players who have yet to be exposed to the intensity of an NHL postseason game. From rookies Brad Marchand, Steve Kampfer and Seguin to former Panthers Horton and Campbell, the Bruins can ill afford for any of them to take a while to adjust to the ramped-up tempo. Otherwise, they’ll be in danger of falling into a quick hole in the first round and bowing out of the playoffs prematurely once again.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com