NEWS ITEM:Is firing Claude Julien the answer?
The Bruins are hurt. The Bruins are playing lousy hockey. To make things worse, the Bruins are playing with the sense of urgency of a Wednesday afternoon bridge club.
Is it time for coaching change?
The talk shows are already calling for Claude Julien’s head. Is that the answer for a team that seems to be going nowhere?
The answer, from here, anyway, is, in a word, no. But so many of the good feelings of Jan. 1 and the Winter Classic are crumbling.Vodpod videos no longer available.
It really would be hard to justify canning the reigning Coach of Year for his first rough spot in three years behind the Boston bench, wouldn’t it? The Bruins, who haven’t won a Stanley Cup in what is approaching four decades, appeared to have finally achieved some stability in the job with Julien, who took them back to the playoffs his first year and led them to the top of the Eastern Conference the next. Sure, losing to eighth-seeded Carolina in the second round was a bad way for it to end, but the B’s had become relevant again in a town of winners.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Now, it all seems to be gone. And the worst part about it is these guys have forgotten who they are, forgotten how to battle.
A team with NO natural goal scorer has become a finesse group, or, more accurately, a sit back and wait group. Patrice Bergeron and Daniel Paille have played well. Anyone else stand out?
The biggest problems, in these eyes, anyway, are the two biggest guys on the team, team captain Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic, 13 feet and 483 pounds of muscle, aren’t doing anything to shake their teammates out of this. They have combined to score six goals this season, so that must be the reason why they don’t seem to hit anyone.
If you saw the ease in which Ottawa got out of its own zone in the closing minutes of Saturday’s game, if you saw the way the defense was beaten repeatedly by last-place Carolina Sunday, you saw a team that had quit on its coach. Chara was beaten badly for a goal in each of those games.
The only penalty of Saturday’s game, one where you’d figure Julien’s guys would come out charging, was against Miroslav Satan, a renowned ruffian known for his soft play. Chara, Lucic and tough guy Shawn Thornton did nothing in the way of scaring the visitors.
Where ARE these guys?Vodpod videos no longer available.
Invisible, which is why the Bruins were already out of the current playoff standings and could actually be in 12th or 13th place by the next time they play, Friday night in Buffalo.
People talk about the Penguins coming from 10th place last year to win the Stanley Cup. The Penguins fired their coach, but also had Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury on top of his game.
The Hurricanes also fired their coach and made it to the conference finals last year. They, too, had more skill guys than the Bruins.
Fire Julien? Last week, he publicly criticized defenseman Dennis Wideman, perhaps another sign he’s losing these guys. But it’s too soon to get rid of the guy, isn’t it?
Lou Lamoriello makes coaching changes in New Jersey and wins the Cup. This Bruins team isn’t winning the Cup, no matter who is behind the bench. This Bruins team, even trying, is dealing with what is already 115 manpower games lost to injury and illness and there are years teams just never seem to get healthy.
They get Marc Savard back Friday night. Savard and Lucic, two-thirds of the top line that also included Phil Kessel (he’s been lousy, too, in Toronto). This pair has played in nine games together this season, and Lucic got hurt in one and Savard 28 seconds into another. Let’s see if Savard’s return helps. Both got new contracts from the club. Both have been hurt, and Lucic, since coming back from his second injury of the season, has just been a big, lumbering body that doesn’t do much. Maybe they should sign this guy.Vodpod videos no longer available.
In the old days, Peter Chiarelli would have been able to pull a trade, any trade, that might have shaken things up. The salary cap makes that difficult and Chiarelli is not going to mortgage the future for an Ilya Kovalchuk or Vinny Lecavalier.
Chiarelli made some decisions, like the Kessel move, that come into question at a time like this. But you couldn’t pay a one-way player like Kessel $5.4 million bucks a year to play at one end of the ice, thus messing up your payroll. Did they overpay for Tim Thomas? Of course they did, but haven’t we seen enough of Tuukka Rask to know he’s not yet the second coming of Martin Brodeur?
Here’s the thing. Would I be shocked if I woke up tomorrow and found the Bruins had yet another new coach? No. Would I think it’s right move? No. Let’s see what happens and if this team can get to the Olympic break, get healthier and then finish the season.
Let’s also see if these guys care. If they don’t, if this continues, Julien WILL lose his job.
NEWS ITEM: Colts, Saints in the Super Bowl
So much for the know-it-alls who said these conference powers shouldn’t have sat players at the end of the regular season because it takes the edge off for the playoffs, right?
The two best teams in football will play in Miami. Should be fun.
Getting back to something we talked about here last week, about Sunday’s AFC championship game being a dilemma for Patriots’ fans, talking to people throughout the week and even on the day of the title games, it really was 50-50 on who Pats fans wanted to lose more. But, in the end, I’d have to say, of the people I talked to, there were slightly more who hated the Jets, and New York, than hated Peyton Manning and his Colts. Now they can turn their attention to being Saints fans and loving Drew Brees.