Since there is no Bruins game tonight it seems like a good time to touch on some hot topics currently facing the black n’ gold. We’re already 1/3 of the way through the season and a lot of the things happening right now will impact decisions that need to be made leading up to the trade deadline. Feel free to chime in with your comments below, or hit us up on Twitter. We always like to hear your thoughts as well.
What are the Bruins going to do with Chara?
I want to set the record straight right away; Zdeno Chara is a difference maker on this Bruins team. His presence on the blue line makes the Bruins a better team, but father time is undefeated. Chara is now 38 years old and to these eyes has been struggling recently. He made a great play to spring Loui Eriksson for a short handed goal Wednesday night that turned the game the Bruins way. But please, let’s be honest. Chara swatted at the puck in mid air and the puck found its way to Loui. It was not intended. Chara was trying to swat away a saucer pass, and hopefully get the puck out of the zone.
Big Z is also committing bad turnovers and is not moving well. Last week in overtime against Calgary he was clearly overmatched by the faster, better skaters on Calgary. At times Wednesday night he was brutal. He was so bad that even the NBC Sports crew in between periods were showing tape and pointing out Chara’s struggles. Milbury mentioned that his nearly 24 minutes a game is catching up with him and the Bruins have to find a way to limit those minutes.
The problem I have with all of this is Chara is no longer a number 1 defenseman. He is more of a number 2 or 3. The Bruins need a number one. All Stanley Cup winners recently have had a true stud number 1 defenseman. But getting a number 1 d-man is easier said then done. These guys do not grow on trees and if a team has one they are not looking to trade the player. Plus, Chara’s cap hit of almost $7 Million makes it difficult to fit another defensemen of Chara’s caliber under the cap.
The Bruins might have to make the decision for Chara because by all accounts from what Chara has said in the media he has no plans to stop playing. He plans on playing till the end of his contract. His deal has another two years after this season.
Jimmy Hayes’ Has Zero Confidence:
It looks like Jimmy Hayes has no confidence right now. After being a healthy scratch for two straight games Hayes was back in the lineup on Wednesday against the Canadiens, but it did not look like he was right. There was one moment that really stuck on me. In the first period Jimmy got the puck in the neutural zone and had room to skate, but instead he made a bad pass to Frank Vatrano who was actually trying to make a line change. It was like he didn’t feel or trust in his ability to finish the play.
I feel some Bruins fans thought Jimmy Hayes was going to be a physical beast that was going to run over people, but that is not him. It never has been. Jimmy needs to find his game, because he can be a difference maker, but I also feel Claude needs to find a way to build Jimmy back up. The bottom line is if the Bruins want to do anything in the playoffs they are going to have to play the Canadiens. The Bergeron line plays agains the Pacioretty line and the Krejci lines will be matched up with the Plekanec line. These games will come down to the 3rd and 4th lines and who has the better depth. Last night Landon Ferraro came through for the Bruins and their bottom 6 forwards. It will be interesting if there are not any more injuries to the forward group when Pastrnak comes back from injury. I think it would make some sense to leave the Bergeron and Krejci lines together and maybe try a Spooner, Pastrnak, and Hayes out for the 3rd line.
Points Are At A Premium:
Currently the Bruins have 33 points after 27 games which gives them a hold on the first wild card spot in the playoff race. The Canadiens are in first place in the entire conference with 41 points. However the Bruins have 3 games in hand, so if they won all three of those games they would have 39 points and only be 2 points behind the Canadiens. Who would have thought this after the first 3 games of the season and seeing the start the Canadiens had? Montreal lost again last night to push their losing streak to 4 straight games. This all makes the next 5 games so important.
Boston will play the Penguins twice, who are currently in the second wild card spot. And with some of the issues Pittsburgh is trying to correct, like Sydney Crosby not scoring, it would be nice to get some space between those first and second wild card spots. They also play the Panthers who currently have 30 points and the Devils who have 32 points. Both of these teams are currently on the outside looking into the playoffs. But just barely. If the Bruins go 4-1 over the next stretch of five games I will guarantee the Bruins make the playoffs.
Bruins Fans Should Be Ducks Fans As Well:
Currently the San Jose Sharks are in third place in the Pacific Division. Why is that important? The Bruins own the Sharks 1st round draft pick in the upcoming 2016 draft, a pick they received in the Martin Jones trade over the summer. It looks like the two wild card spots in the Western Conference playoff race will go to Central Division teams. That means Bruins fans have to hope that the Anaheim Ducks, who currently have 27 points, will catch fire and pass the Sharks. This way the Bruins will have a lottery pick even if the B’s make the playoffs. The lottery rules for the draft have changed and now there is a true lottery for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd picks. San Jose, having lost 5 in a row, are playing their way into the lottery. Wouldn’t that be a nice shot in the arm for the Bruins long term goals of building from within if that draft pick turns into a golden pick?
Malcolm Subban Is Here To Be Traded:
I had the pleasure of posing a question to ex-NHL goaltender Corey Hirsch today on NHL Radio on SiriusXM about Malcolm Subban. I asked “what is the plan for a guy like Subban who is a highly regarded prospect, but stuck behind Tuukka Rask who is locked up long-term and not going anywhere?” Simply put he said he’s there to be traded. Hirsch also said look no further than L.A. and Jonathan Quick. It’s the same scenario. Ben Scrivens, Jonathan Bernier, and Martin Jones all played behind Quick and were simply used as assets to be moved. As the Bruins approach the trade deadline don’t be surprised to see Subban’s name pop up again depending on where the Bruins sit in the standings.