The Bruins/Habs Rivalry Renews
They played one of the best playoff series of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup (hold on: let me kiss my fake Stanley Cup) and now both teams are struggling at the start of the 2011-12 season. Yep, it seems like a perfect time to play two Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens games with the first one Thursday night in Boston.
Why is it perfect? Both of these teams need something to kick-start their season. After beating down division rival (and division leader!?) Toronto 6-2, it looked as if the Boston Bruins might be able to find themselves after a slow start to the season, but a 4-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, the Bruins need another thing to “get their season going”. The Canadiens on the other hand, have only beaten the lowly Winnipeg Jets, although they have been in a couple of close games. With the way these two teams hate each other, they would like nothing better than to beat each other senseless and start making their runs at the division leader (come on do I really have to type this?) the Toronto Maple Leafs.
For the Boston Bruins, their struggles have been obvious. They can’t score goals. They are sitting with a 2.25 GPG average and have the 22nd ranked power-play in the game. More concerning for the Boston Bruins is their statistics in the five on five game. Last year, their ratio of goals for and against in 5 on 5 play was the best in hockey at a whopping 1.40. This years total? So far they rank 18th in the league at a rate of .93. Boston Bruins fans knew that the power-play would probably continue to suck, they needed their five on five play to continue to play excellent and so far that hasn’t happened.
Don’t blame Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask either. The Bruins have only given up 2.38 goals per game. The blame squares sorely on the offense that has been shuffled around more than any Bruins season I can remember. Krejci and Seguin have centered the first line, Bergeron has played with something like four different pairings of wings and even Chris Kelly has been thrown in with Lucic and Seguin in a “let’s see what the hell will happen” kind of move. It has been that bad. The inconsistency with the lines translates to inconsistency on the ice. We have no idea what we are getting from Milan Lucic night in and night out who either sleeps walks through games and stays away from the dirty areas or plays like Milan Lucic and works hard, uses his body and contributes offensively. He’s not the only one (Horton and Marchand come to mind) but he’s just the most obvious.
In fact, the most consistent player had been the sophomore Tyler Seguin who is off to a blistering fast start. With nine points in eight games (3 G, 6 A) he looks like the player that Bruins fans thought we were drafting in 2010. Most importantly, he shows no more fear on the ice. Not only is he using his fantastic speed and stick skills, but he is also working hard in dirty areas. This is exactly what Bruins fans wanted to see from Tyler Seguin early. The hope is that he can continue to play at this level while the rest of the team catches up to him.
And that’s the hope of these next two games. The Bruins and the Canadiens bring out the best in each other because they hate each other so much. There have been playoff series, bad blood, fights, and controversial hits. There have been words said, farcical police investigations, and ugly moments. For two teams struggling, this is exactly what they need. They needed a little two game series. If the Boston Bruins can come in tonight, play to their potential, win and then go up into Montreal and win on Saturday, this Boston Bruins season will get jump started. I guarantee it.