The painfully frustrating 2015-2016 Boston Bruins season is finally over. Yesterday the “nothing to lose” Ottawa Senators rolled into Boston and in a 4-goal, 8 minute span of the second period, buried the Bruins post season hopes in a shallow grave. And I don’t think a single Bruins fan is surprised by what they saw.
All season long this team was a nightmare roller coaster ride. One night they’d pump in 5 or 6 goals and be working hard and smart all over the ice. Inexplicably, they’d follow up great games with uninspired, flat, soft, performances like the 2-1 loss in regulation to a post trade deadline New Jersey Devils team that had given the Bruins their own leading scorer a month ago. In the end the Bruins only won 3 of their final 12 games. Yet still, with the Red Wings loss yesterday, just getting to overtime against Ottawa would have been enough to get the B’s in the playoffs. That scenario is what makes the whole thing so much shittier.
Despite all their season long blunders and Jeckyll and Hyde performances the roster the Bruins put on the ice yesterday should have been good enough to get in the post season. Yes, it’s not a great roster. Yes, they had flaws. But the formerly “1st place in the Atlantic” Bruins up against an even worse Ottawa team, at home with the season on the line? That roster should have been able to do it. But for whatever reason “they weren’t ready to go” and just didn’t seem to want it. I have no idea how that is even possible.
So rather than ramble on about what we all know here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover more in depth in upcoming separate blogs:
- Claude Julien: People are calling for his head. I am not in that camp. The defense first coach who still has the Bruins in the top-10 offensively every year was given sub-par ingredients to make the right cocktail. Bergy stood up for him post game yesterday calling him “the best coach” he’s ever had and that this is on the players. Maybe management’s ego doesn’t agree? Speaking of management…
- The Front Office: Simply put they’ve done a poor job getting the on-ice talent to support the core. Drafting and development wise they seem on the right track. But Rinaldo for the 3rd rounder, Dougie for nice picks but no NHL ready body to replace him (just like with Boychuk), are similar to the poor decisions by Chiarelli that still impact anyone trying to work with what he left in his wake. The B’s seemed to get halfway back to normalcy last summer with a focus on salary cap repair. This upcoming summer is doubly important.
- Loui and Deadline Deals: Sweeney and crew went all-in for what looked to be a one, maybe two, and done playoff team. Draft picks went in exchange for aging veterans to help plug the dam (and initially it was great), and Loui wasn’t used as the asset that really could have improved the blue line. It was big blunder by the brass. What will happen with these guys by July 1st?
- Chara and The Core: Are they all safe? Is Chara’s time in Boston over? If so, who steps in on defense? Is Loui considered part of that core? Lots of questions here but shooting from the hip I’d say 37, 63, 46, 72, 88, 39, and 40 are the only safe ones.
- Are Any Prospects Ready? The one shining area for the Bruins is their drafting and college free agent signings. The NCAA has been a great pool for the B’s to fish in and they’ve got some highly touted pieces trying to make their way to Causeway Street much sooner than later (like Vatrano and Acciari did). Will they grab Jimmy Vesey? Is Heinen or Kuraly NHL ready? And there are plenty of CHL players, like Senyshyn and Gabrielle, that they picked that have rising stocks as well. These players are built in the mold of the new skill/speed NHL. Help may be on the way?
It’s going to be a busy spring and summer for the Bruins and if there is any positive to take away from the disaster that was the end of the season it is that failure leads to evaluation and changes. When the Bruins started down the re-tooling road last summer they knew that it was just the beginning to getting where they need to be. Maybe they didn’t admit it publicly but everyone knew the pile Chiarelli left, in the cap era NHL, could not be fixed fast. So now they’re on to phase two of the process. And that’s a good thing.
It just would have been nice to get a little bonus hockey this spring even if we knew they didn’t have a team that could go far. But I guess they just weren’t ready to go…. ? Their words, not mine.