In the last game prior to the Olympic break the Boston Bruins come to South Florida to face the Florida Panthers in a game that promises to be…boring? As the Bruins look to win their fourth straight game after stopping a 10 game losing streak, the Panthers will try to avoid losing their sixth straight game. The Bruins are in the eighth playoff spot and still considered in the mix even though they went through a rough time, but collectively feel that they can make it.
The Panthers on the other hand are slipping further away finidng themselves in the 12th spot, still only six points back, but they’ve been going in the wrong direction lately and the Carolina Hurricanes are now only four points behind after a disastrous start.
Defensive breakdowns have plagued the Bruins as well, as they had a four goal lead on Tampa Thursday night which they almost blew, but hung onto, and won 5-4. Michael Ryder who was recently placed in waivers scored two goals in that game as did Milan Lucic. Being an offensive powerhouse is not what the Bruins are known for, but they have scored 11 goals during their current three game winning streak.
Leading the team in goals is Marco Sturm with 18, and Patrice Bergeron is their point leader with 37. They have had troubles with injuries all year such as Marc Savard, but other players have not been up to their potential. One reason why forward Michael Ryder was placed on waivers has been his poor output. Last season Ryder had 27 tallies, while this season he has only 15, two of which came against Tampa the other night.
Also having problems is last year’s Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas. He has been a model of inconsistency as his 2.52 GAA indicates, and his record this season is 13-15-7. Certainly not the season he or the Bruins were hoping for. It appears that youngster Tukka Rask has taken over as the number one netminder for the B’s.
Florida meanwhile is in the middle of an absolutey disgusting display of hockey right now. If not for Tomas Vokoun, who I have been praising all season, the Panthers would most likely barely have 10 victories. As predicted at the beginning of the season by your truly, offense has been the Panther’s the biggest problem. In the last 12 games the Panther’s have scored 13 goals. Amazing that they still are only six points out of a playoff spot with a bunch of games to go, but you and I both know that unless the sky falls, we’re not going to the playoffs. Do you hear Jim Mora in the background?
Players have become invisible at the most crucial time. To me a sign of weakness and a charachter flaw of the players that were expected to lead this team. Once again, The Little Weasel has a nagging injury, and has not been scoring at the over his head clip he was at before. Steven Reinprecht has all but become a non-factor after his uncharachteristic start. Secondary scoring expected from grunts like Gregory Campbell and Kamil Kreps has produced three goals between them while they still get regular ice time! Rusty Olesz who has a broken finger/hand, has no points in his last 11 games. While he dressed for the game Thursday night against Vancouver, his only contribution in that one was serving a bench minor the Panthers were charged with for too many men on the ice. Oh, and by the way, that occured while they had a 5 on 3 advantage! (head slap).
So finally after seeing enough, and evaluating the absolute lack of grit, intensity, heart, charachter, hockey sense and skill, the Panthers organEYEzation finally did something! Traded third line centre Dominic Moore to the Montreal Canadians for a second round draft pick in 2011. And then the managing partners issued a letter to the fans that things will change and more moves are on the way. Phew! I was worried I’d never see that! I feel so much better that things will be different and that certain players will no longer be here. No player is untouchable were the words.
Well I’ve heard some of this in the past, and I admit that I like hearing it this time in the fashion that it was displayed, however, if you’re going to issue a letter indicating that change is going to happen, then it better happen. Cause quite frankly, I was calling for a house cleaning back in November. Had they done it then, we could be sitting in a playoff spot now.
Friday’s practice for the Panther’s was cancelled and a major meeting was held throughout the organization. Will that, Randy Sexton’s media outburst, and the threat of change in management’s letter have any impact even on tonight? No, this team is made up of players that don’t get it. Not all of them, but most.
Therefore, get this one over with tonight. I don’t want my team to lose, but I’d like the Bruins to send a message to increase the probability that things change.
Thanks for reading.