As we sit today, on a brisk New England evening at the end of October, the Boston Bruins reside in the basement of the Eastern Conference. Yes, you read that right, the defending Stanley Cup Champions are sitting in dead-last in the East through one month of the season.Through 9 games this season, the B’s have accumulated only 6 out of a possible 18 points.
What is ailing the Bruins through the season’s first 9 games is far more than simply the inability to score and finish around the net, or even the defensive deficiencies that have haunted them thus far. Rather it is the inconsistency and lack of focus (As pointed out by Head Coach Claude Julien) that are the reasons why it is becoming painstakingly obvious that GM Peter Chiarelli must attempt to shake up the locker room dynamic. Consistent failures in execution, combined with an inability to meet the level of urgency shown by their opponents have amounted to 2.11 goals per game and the league’s 5th worst offense.
As I pointed out yesterday, with the stark reality of the situation is that without an immediate turn-around, it will become increasingly difficult for the Bruins to crawl back into the top-8 in the East. However, it now appears that Chiarelli is attempting to once again be a pro-active GM, in an effort to turn his team around. This from award-winning Boston Globe Bruins beat writer Kevin Paul Dupont:
“Chiarelli is on the hunt. Officially. In an e-mail exchange late yesterday morning, he said he was “diligently’’ making his calls to other GMs, a clear indication of his concern. He would not identify what he is targeting, but it’s a good bet his No. 1 priority is goal scoring.”
Chiarelli has proven in the past that he will not shy away from a deal, if it has the potential to make his team better. Mid-season acquisitions like Chris Kelly & Rich Peverley are living examples of such. As Dupont also points out, perhaps a trade would go a long way towards re-awakening this team and help them realize that last season is over. –”An acquisition now should capture the attention of everyone on the roster, which in itself could be a catalyst for better performance, front to back. Nothing wakes up a sleeping team like seeing names that were chiseled into the Cup just weeks ago get sent out the door.” –.
They say that sometimes, without enough fresh faces and attitudes that winning can breed complacency. And for Boston, with 18 returning players from last year’s Stanley Cup championship squad, it looks as if there are not enough fresh legs in the room. Perhaps the most telling evidence of this has been the play of Tyler Seguin. Appearing as if he is the only one not suffering from the dreaded “Stanley Cup Hangover”, the 19-year old Brampton, ON native has posted 9 points through 9 games. Last night it was most evident, as Seguin was flying up and down the ice against the Canadiens, even making former-Bruin Hal Gill look like a boy amongst men as he blazed up the side boards past him on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, his teammates were seemingly unable to keep up with him, and looked often lost and out-of-place. To this point, no Bruins’ forward has proven the ability to keep up with the speed and agility that Seguin has shown this season.
Right now it is not particularly clear what exactly the Bruins will be looking for on the trade market, but ultimately it is the overall impact of an early season deal that is more important to the B’s than the position or skill set of the acquired player. (The guess here would be a minor deal for a bottom-six forward).
Can the defending Stanley Cup Champions recover from this rough start? Tonight’s game at Montreal’s Bell Centre may very well be this group’s last chance to get things together. If they aren’t able to right the ship, Chiarelli may be forced to make a change sooner, rather than later.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.