By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Prior to the duck parade celebrating the Bruins first Stanley Cup Championship in 39 years, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron did perhaps the worst karaoke version of Wiz Kalifa’s Black and Yellow for the million-plus B’s fans who were partying with the team in downtown Boston.
Just nine months removed from a second Finals loss – this time in a 7th Game at TD Garden due to the lack of any kind of physical presence in their line up other than their 43-year-old captain Zdeno Chara – all that remains is the yellow.
And it is a stripe that is shoulder to shoulder wide down the once Big Bad Bruins franchise’s back.
The team – due to the organization’s detailed plan to get smaller and faster – has become softer than an over-cooked marshmallow over an open fire during a summer camping trip.
For as much as the 2011 Cup winners were known for their ability to beat you on the scoreboard as well as beat you up, general manager Don Sweeney’s club for the last couple of season has been seen as cupcakes, that will turn to crumbs once you challenge them physically.
Forget their regular-season record – which will be as valuable as a Bruce Shoebottom photo when the playoffs begin in April – it is common knowledge around the league that teams can take liberties with the Bruins best players without any threat of retribution.
Sweeney supposedly brought in the recently put on waivers Brett Ritchie to add some size and grit to his largely undersized squad last summer. Instead, the waste of roster space – which will add to the list of horrible free-agent signings by the B’s GM highlighted by likes of Matt Beleskey and David Backes – chose to simply cash a paycheck instead of bang bodies, which was the primary reason he was signed for.
There’s no coincidence that when he refused to even skate by Columbus’ Emil Bemstrom – who concussed Tuukka Rask with a cheap shot punch to the head just over a minute into the 1 period of the 3-0 Bruins loss to the Blue Jackets on the road Tuesday night – that he was given his pink slip – a slightly different version than the rest of his former teammates were seemingly wearing under their gear as well – even though it can be argued that this day should have come much earlier than now.
The fact remains – and it was even driven home further by the Bruins lack of fortitude shown when their number one goalie left the game with a concussion on Tuesday night – that no matter how much the NHL wants to limit fighting in the game, a team still needs to have physicality to win in the playoffs.
Since the Blues beat them down on their way to the franchises’ first Cup last June, the team that calls Causeway Street home has shown their true colors.