By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Senior Staff Writer
Let’s face it, it is hard to argue over the numbers that head coach Bruce Cassidy’s club has posted through nearly two-thirds of the season thus far, realists in the New England region recognize that this Bruins team – as currently constructed – would have an extremely difficult task getting back to the Stanley Cup Final this spring.
For as much as the Black and Gold were on the beam during October and parts of November, they have wobbled like a college freshman at a keg party since just before Thanksgiving. And while the best line in the NHL – Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and the supernova known as David Pastrnak – continues to play at an obscene level most nights. The lack of a consistent physical presence around them has been exposed on multiple occasions recently.
Just like it was when the St. Louis Blues beat them up on their way to a first championship for a franchise that joined the league in 1967.
“I’ll be very open … we decided a couple of weeks ago or whatever it was that we needed a little more internal competition,” said the B’s bench boss after the 3-2 home comeback win against the Vegas Golden Knights before entering their extended break before the All-Star Game.
“Usually, that starts from the bottom up. We identified some guys in Providence that were playing well. [Anton Blidh] was one of that was hurt at the start of the year that we were going to look at in training camp.”
The man the players call Butch continued to detail the fact that both him, his coaching staff and the front office will not shy away from adding more backbone to a franchise that is so far removed from the “Big Bad Bruins” of not even a decade ago, there would likely not be more than a handful of chromosomes that would overlap in a DNA test today.
“We did it with [Karson] Kuhlman. [Jeremy] Lauzon, we took a veteran out in [John] Moore, so [Kuhlman] came up in place of however you want to look at it. That was a bit by design these last two weeks to see if it will give us a little extra push, so we’ll see where it leads us.”
Where it most likely will lead general manager Don Sweeney and the rest of the front office is a quick audition for those who even know how to throw a body check within in their system over the next couple of weeks, before looking not only for some secondary scoring but some beef to protect their top talent before the trade deadline arrives in just over a month.
Posting great regular-season records and stat is fine and dandy. However, if you are winning Presidents Trophies and still making tee times in May, what have you really accomplished other than filling the coffers of the team’s ownership by hitting the playoff home game lottery.
Just as team president Cam Neely about that.
While it is nice to be sitting atop the division and only a point out of the lead in the NHL in late January, the goal for the Bruins shouldn’t be putting asses in the seats for a couple of rounds of postseason play – as it was when Neely and Sweeney played together in the late 1980s & early 1990s – it should be riding in a duck boat though millions of Boston hockey fans wearing shorts come this June.
And anyone who thinks this current roster is capable of that is simply in denial.