30 Teams, (At Least) 30 Thoughts: Boston Bruins
The first thing that comes to mind with the Bruins now that Tim Thomas has left is goaltending, and I’m happy to report that after struggling as Thomas’s backup last season, Rask is back to his top form from three years ago.
Of course, a lot of Boston’s goaltending success under Julien has at least partially been a result of, well, Julien and the team-defense he has been able to build and mold in Boston, so some of the credit has to go to the team and the coach for Rask’s good numbers, and even Thomas’s when he was here, although Thomas did reach an astonishingly high level of individual goaltending at times with the Bruins, not the least of which during the Bruins Cup season.
Still, if Rask were letting in soft goals at every turn, his numbers would not be so stellar, so he deserves credit, too. He has been solid.
• For all of Julien’s defensive wizardry as a head coach, he seems to struggle like no other with the power-play. I’d say he needs to fix this except that they won a Cup just two seasons ago without ever fixing it. Still, it’s pretty pathetic that they still haven’t improved it at all since 2010, and their chances of winning another Cup will always be worse than they otherwise would be if they don’t improve their power-play.
• Speaking of improving aspects of the offense, Julien needs to find a better ways of using Tyler Seguin to his full potential. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are both great two-way players and unique talents, and a line with them and Seguin on it has had some success in the past.
However, it’s a fairly undersized trio for a top-six forward line, and especially where the production of a speedy finesse player like Seguin who can struggle at times to protect the puck and cycle is concerned, I just don’t understand Julien’s complete obliviousness to the fact that he could actually mix and match some of his bigger power-forwards from line-one with his unique second-liners. I’d be very curious to see what Seguin and Lucic could do together, but I have no idea because I’m not sure Julien has tried that even once the last two years. (I wrote this saturday night, and I actually saw Lucic and Seguin together for at shift during sunday’s game, so we’ll see if that continues or just they ended up on the ice together due to an incomplete line change).
Likewise, we’re multiple years into Seguin’s career and I’m still not sure I’ve ever seen him on the first power-play unit. If you want to maximize this guy’s talent and not stunt his development, which it seems has already happened to a degree given Seguin’s slow start (and the eye test–there just seems to be no progression in his game), then you might want to try putting him in greater positions to succeed offensively, especially considering he has the potential to be Boston’s most purely talented offensive player, and the biggest finesse game-breaker they’ve had since Phil Kessel and Marc Savard, (and where in the absence of those two they really don’t have one in that pure sense, with Marchand and Seguin being the closest now).
• If Seguin’s talent is, shall we say, not being taken full advantage of by his coach, then Rich Peverley’s talent is being completely wasted. Peverley was one of the key contributors in Boston’s Cup winning season, playing next to the likes of Michael Ryder, Chris Kelly, Marc Recchi, Tyler Seguin, and I don’t remember who else got rotated onto his line. The point is, he got to play with other offensively talented players, which allowed him to produce.
Now he’s stuck with Chris Kelly (workable) and Chris Bourque (not workable, hinders the entire line). Worse still, the one forward from that third line to get significant power-play time when everyone is healthy has been Chris Bourque, and not Peverley. Why? I guess because his last name is Bourque, because that’s really the only explanation that makes any sense. Aside from Bourque apparently having the better last name when it comes to helping a power-play, Peverley is better at everything hockey related besides maybe hitting, which is not the number one priority of any good power-play.
It is really inexcusable, if this is the case, that a player would get preferential playing time just based off his last name, and in direct conflict with his level of play. (I also wrote this saturday, and Peverley got a power-play goal in yesterday’s game).
Rich Peverley may not be the biggest name on the Bruins or in the NHL, but he is actually one of the Bruins’ best and most shifty forwards, as is Tyler Seguin. For a power-play that is apparently loaded with too many power-forwards and huge defenseman but not enough creativity, players like Seguin and Peverley should be getting more opportunities to succeed, not less, and with line-mates of the necessary quality to supplement their skill sets and aid and sustain the offense they create.
• I like what I’ve seen from Dougie Hamilton so far. Any time you have a defenseman as big, strong, and skilled as he is, the potential is massive. But understandably, he hasn’t quite figured out how to convert his dominant physical tools into being a dominant NHL player who really sticks out and decisively impacts most games. He just needs to keep developing and not get satisfied, and the sky is the limit for him.
Written by Shark Circle