Bruins: settling for mediocrity?

I think one of the most dissapointing happenings of this off-season is the gradual crumbling of one of the league’s strongest teams, the Boston Bruins. The Bruins finished the 2001-2002 regular season in 1st place overall in the Eastern Conference, they looked like they had finnally overcome the loss of Ray Bourque and were ready to emerge as a new force in the East having not been a real playoff contender since the early 90’s. Well, so much for that.. The Bruins will have a very different roster come 2002-2003, Bill Guerin the teams leading scorer last year is gone. Byron Dafoe, the teams starting goaltender who had an impressive season last year, has not been re-signed and most believe he will not return to the Bruins next season as indicated by their trading for Mighty Duck’s Goaltender Steve Sheilds who is by no means even in the same ballpark as Dafoe is. This is obviously not good for Bruin’s fans! If this wasn’t bad enough, early July, arguably the team’s best defenseman, Kyle McLaren requested to be shipped elsewhere before training camp. So I, along with alot angry Bostonians wanna know whats up? Why can’t Boston hang on to its key players?

The Bruin’s of the 90’s have clearly been swept under the table as the new decade continues with the trades of Ray Bourque, Jason Allison and so on.. But it seems that the Bruin’s of the new millenium are already starting to fall apart. Bill Guerin was a lightning rod to the rear-end of that club last season and I think anyway you slice it, they are going to be seriously hurting in the scoring department next year due to his absence. However this is not to say that the Bruin’s can’t somewhat make up for his loss, they have Martin Lapointe, Joe Thornton, Glen Murray, Jozef Stumpel, Sergei Samsonov, Marty McInnis, Brian Rolston and Rob Zamuner to do that, but they are going to have to work harder than they did last year and even as good as some of them may be they won’t get the same results unless Joe Thornton really stays healthy and scores on a regular basis, and based on his consistency in the past its just not safe enough to say that he definitely will do that.

So if the fact that maybe Boston has faith in it’s other forwards can explain Guerin’s departure, even though it probably was more of a money issue for the B’s, how do you explain them not re-signing Byron Dafoe after Guerin’s departure? Unless they really “see” something in Steve Sheilds or John Grahame, it looks like suicide to me. John Grahame isn’t the most solid backup in the league and Steve Sheild’s former team, the Ducks didn’t really benefit from his being there. So I think this will be the team’s biggest issue next year.

And then..there is the blueline, which is in pretty poor shape as well. There is Sean O’Donnell and Nick Boynton, who were the most solid defensemen last year, and it goes downhill from there. Don Sweeney is a decent defenseman but he is simply getting old and he’s gonna be gone soon. Hal Gill is a big guy but he is an awkward skater and isn’t very effective other than just getting in the way. Jonathan Girard , Jarno Kultanen, and Jamie Rivers aren’t consistent or ever healthy enough to be that good. They have alot of young players on deck that might help them in the future, but they need more imediate help than that. The strongest guy they have, Kyle McLaren wants to go somewhere else.

So what are the Bruin’s going to do to keep from falling out of contention? Well the first thing they have to do is get some defense, since it seem’s they aren’t going to act on their goaltending situation which is simply beyond help at this point. There was talk earlier in the month about them signing Rangers D Bryan Berard to a contract. This is the kind of thing the Bruin’s need to do, and keep doing. Take the Atlanta Thrashers for example, a team who really went and got themselves some good defenseman when they had nothing. They need to get on the phone with every defenseman they can possibly get and try to ink them because they have nothing to lose and w/o Dafoe and Guerin I would think there is some extra change in the Beantown piggy bank.

Second, they have to establish some kind of leadership that’s more solid than what they had last year. You can’t finish first place in the East and not have a captain, it shows lack of depth and inabilty to determine who play’s what role on the team. Either that or its just embarrassing. There are several candidates for Captain on this club. There is the obvious choice, Joe Thornton, your all-American kid who is starting to score but like I said earlier, I don’t trust him yet. There is Don Sweeney who has been on the team for the longest and is one of their only real veterans. There is Martin Lapointe who they grabbed from Detroit 2 years ago who is a very solid forward who got the A last year. There are also newcomers(who actually both had played for Boston previously) Glen Murray who was second on the team in scoring last year and Jozef Stumpel who is a very good set-up center but is not a great goal-scorer. There is also the possibility of any free-agents they might sign or who they receive for Kyle McLaren having leadership qualities. Whoever it is I hope they find him soon.

12 Responses to Bruins: settling for mediocrity?

  1. titans says:

    The Bruins are fine!!! Yea Guerin leaving will hurt, but They’ve still got one of the more formidable offences in the league. And I actually think Shields will be quite the adaquate replacement for Dafoe. Now the defence well…

  2. Habfan1234 says:

    The Bruins offense will not be as good next year. I don’t expect Glen Murray to repeat his 41 goal performance (what do you know it was the last year of his contract). Bill was the the catalyst on the team. The problem with Joe Thornton (he is one of the best young centres in the league if not the best) is that he lacks dicipline. With 30 seconds to go in the second period of game 6 against Montreal-the score was 1-1-he takes a stupid high-sticking double-minor. He was in the box when Yanic Paerrault scored the eventual game winner. As I said above their offense will not be as good as last year but still in the top 10 in the league. They do have one of the best young defensmen in the league in Nick Boynton (he’s going to be a good one) and a solid veteran in Sean O’Donnell but after that the defense falls off dramatically. Boston’s defense (3rd defensman to 6th defensmen) were to slow in handling the speedy Montreal forewards. Thier goaltending took a step back but don’t fret Boston fans the Bruins will make the playoffs but won’t finish 1st. They will in all likliehood finish fourth in the East.

  3. Varada25 says:

    Steve Shields should be fine. He has won a playoff series in 97 with Sabres. That was when hasek quit on the team and faked that knee injury.

  4. LEON says:

    The fact that the Bruins lost Bill Guerin and haven’t replaced him does concern me. However, The Bruins have alot of prospects that should be given the opportunity to play on a regular basis. With Guerin gone maybe this is their chance. The Bruins had Guerin last year and the same surrounding cast and couldn’t get it done so it doesn’t matter that the Bruins lost him, because they counld get past the 1st round with him. I want to see what Lee Goren and Andy Hilbert can do given a better opportunity to play. If they don’t play, which is what happened last year then my question is why they didn’t just trade them while they were recognized as being potential star’s for someone that we could use. Johnathan Girard has to be given the chance to play on a regular basis, perhaps he can be the guy that the Bruins need to quarterback the PP. Thorton and Samsonov have emerged as having superstar potential, but they were given the opportunity to play from day 1, even when they struggled. I like the addition of Steve Shields at least he’ll play with some passion to prove his worth. I do remember Dafoe being in the same position when the Bruins aquired him and he stepped up his game to become one of the better regular season goalies in the league. I can’t see any reason why Shields can’t step up his game in the same fashion and be an even better playoff goalie then Dafoe, because that’s when it matter’s the most. As for Graham I don’t care what kind of martial arts training he’s taking, I still don’t have faith in his ability, because he’ll always be a flopper. I expect more leadership from Lapoint, he’s a tough player and suits the Bruins well. I think that overall the Bruins will be a good offensive team, that has players that can play very good defensivley up front. Their D is questionable at times but they are a very solid unit. Every guy just has to play smart disciplined hockey and stick to Ftorek’s system. If they do that there is no reason why they can’t be successful and perhaps be just as dominating as they were, at times, last year?

  5. mikster says:

    Good article.

    Bruins will still score, but i have doubts on Rolston and Murray for ther 30 goal repeat. I think Rolston is the sleeper since he scores SH goals. It will be interesting how the Bruins will go about….but they should do fine, though not number one in the East again.

    Micki Peroni

  6. garry1221 says:

    i think this could be a make it or break it year for the b’s …. they make it and keep building on that, or they break it and rebuild, they’ve got great scoring, although not near as great with the loss of guerin, the defense i feel has always needed help after the loss of bourque, but, it all depends now on who they can get for mclaren…. as for who to give the C to, i’d say give it to lapointe…. he’s got a good head and can put the puck in the net… and hell, before he went to the b’s there were speculations that he’d become the next captain here in detroit after stevie retires, that reason alone is enough for me to say that

  7. bruinsfan12 says:

    First I’d like to thank the person who wrote this article for writing something on the Bruins. Very well…

    I think that people are forgetting something here, and that is that Lapointe sucks! He ruined this team with his stupid high salary. Going into this year, the Bruins should have had Guerin as their captain and a strong team. But now, they just have a bunch of question marks in the air.

    For goaltending, some say Shields will be able to help the B’s out, but personally I think it will be just like playing Grahame as a starter. I don’t think he will step up at all. Yes, he did win in 97 or whenever, but that was about 5 years ago, back when Ed Belfour was also good.

    Defense is almost as bad as goaltending on this team. Sean O’Donnell is great and Nick Boynton will be great again if not better this year. I also think Hal Gill was alright for them, and I’m hoping he will improve upon that again, but that’s also a big IF. I think Jonathan Girard will start to develop into a good defensemen, but adding him to the lineup will not improve them much. They need to either sign another defensemen or get a very good one in exchange for McLaren. Lets face it, you’re not going to get a great #3 or 4 defensemen just for McLaren, so let’s just hope O’Connell gets his head out of his ass and tries to make a good trade.

    I think the offense will be fine again this year. I fully expect Samsonov and Thornton to continue to get better and be amazing again this year. I also think Rolston will repeat his 30-goal season, and maybe even get biggest numbers. This wasn’t a fluke season for Brian, he worked really hard last summer to improve and really made himself better for good. I have serious doubts about Glen Murray, and I don’t think he will get 40 goals again, but if he plays steadily maybe 30. I believe last year he played with Stumpel and Samsonov, and that was an awesome line in the playoffs. THat could be their big line next year, and hopefull Stumpel will get all the big assists, but also start scoring more goals. The young guys on the Bruins will also get chances, like Hilbert, and hopefully they will thrive.

    As for who will wear captain, I’m pretty sure it will be Lapointe, which makes me want to swallow poison because he is so horrible, but what can you do?

  8. ManillaKilla says:

    I would be shocked if Murray has 25 goals by the end of the season.

  9. Krockasian says:

    First thing first. there is no way Joe Thornton is an all american. He is a canadian, just like an american taking all the credit when they had nothing to do with it. just kidding. ( I wonder how much flak i will get for this one, hehehe!!!)

  10. Avalanche114 says:

    hehe my bad, i forgot Joe Thornton is Canadian, i was just saying he looks like one of those “all-american” guys if you will, like Drew Bledsoe, who he even looks like..

  11. aaron says:

    Hey, don’t diss Lapointe. Lapointe’s a bad ass. I really don’t see your logic that he “ruined the team”. You didn’t have a team to ruin. He “ruined” a team that missed the playoffs by taking them to #1 in the Eastern Conference? Man, hate to see what happens when he helps a team!

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