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Inconsistency Will Continue For Bruins Unless A Change Is Made

(rantsports.com)

Last night the Bruins beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3 in what many would call their best outing of the season. Goals from Brad Marchand (2), Frank Vatrano, Torey Krug, and Brandon Carlo paced the offense for the B’s and put the game out of reach against a Blues squad that looked flat for most of the evening.

After losing a tightly contested game against the Carolina Hurricanes two nights prior, it looked as though this matchup verse St. Louis, who is considered a better team than Carolina, would be a rough game for the Black and Gold.

Yet, the B’s came out strong and put up a four spot before the second buzzer sounded, all but sealing their fate for the night despite a sloppy final couple minutes of play.

Continuing their Jekyll and Hyde trend this season, just when you think you can tell what you’re going to get from this team, they go out and shock everyone.

Now the return of David Backes to the Scottrade Center, who suited up for the Blues for 10 seasons including as captain for the final five years, could have had an effect on the overall performance of the team but regardless, the troubling problem still remains.

Inconsistent play will bury this team, just like it has the past two seasons.

Too many times this year the Bruins have had dreadful first periods, with the majority of those coming against inferior teams, and have had to battle back from deficits that proved to be insurmountable. Recent examples came from losses to Colorado Dec. 8, Toronto Dec. 10, the Islanders Dec. 20, and New Jersey Jan. 2.

That’s eight points the B’s would’ve attained but instead threw away because they weren’t ready to go.

Then, when things look like they are circling the drain, the Bruins beat a St. Louis team with conviction and everything seems good. Other recent surprise wins came against Montreal Dec. 12, Los Angeles Dec. 18, and taking two out of four points from Pittsburgh and Washington, two teams that are without question more talented than Boston.

Some people will look at those eight points they blew away and say they made up for it with those wins and OT losses to the teams mentioned above.

Not so fast.

Let’s say they earned five-out-of-eight points against the bums. That would put them at 54 points currently, two behind the Atlantic Division leading Canadiens and firmly in a playoff spot. Now there’s no question those unexpected victories are nice to think of, but I find it more concerning that this squad continues to show the same problems as it did the previous two seasons which lead to disappointing, playoff-less seasons.

That is why I think a significant move needs to be made because if there isn’t one, expect this unpredictable play to continue throughout the next 40 or so games.

Sorry Claude But It’s Time To Go

It’s been obvious to me for some time now that the best thing that could happen to this team would be a fresh voice behind the bench. There’s no doubt Claude Julien has been a tremendous coach in his 10 seasons here, but I think it has been time to move on for some time now.

Before I go any further I want to say this. Heading into this year, I thought this team would be crap. Their defense looked putrid, their offense only looked to come from one line, and I wasn’t very confident in Tuukka Rask considering his morbid finish last season. However, after a couple of months of watching, those expectations went out the window, other than the one-line scoring concern, because this team had a fight in them I haven’t seen in a while and their record has earned them a top eight spot in the Eastern Conference for most of the year.

Also during this time, I’ve seen poor starts, no-shows, and some questionable decision-making regarding the lineup that I think is unacceptable for a team vying for a playoff spot. Because of this, I think it would be in the best interest of the team to move on from Julien and hope a new leader will produce more consistent results.

I understand Julien should be commended for his role for the decent success, however I don’t think he’s gotten the best out of this team the past two seasons due to the simple fact that they played themselves out of the playoffs. Not to mention it looks extremely likely something like that will happen at the end of this season.

You can throw all the arguments you want at me, ‘Sweeney put together a flawed lineup’, ‘Julien is a great coach and no coach out there is as experienced as him’, ‘He’s worked well with young players this season’, and ‘His teams have been atop the scoring charts the past two seasons’.

Yes, the roster built by Sweeney wasn’t ideal but going back to what I already said, after watching this team and seeing the top-end talent of Patrice Bergeron, Marchand, David Pastrnak, and Rask play thus far, there’s no reason this team should miss the playoffs again with these caliber of players. The B’s have good players and the reason they haven’t been in the playoffs is because they choked when they really needed to play well. If some of that doesn’t fall on the coach, I don’t know what does.

Like I said, it’s obvious Julien has done a great here with feats including a Stanley Cup and becoming the winningest coach in Bruins history so I’m not disputing his value. Although, I do believe his message isn’t being as heard as much as it used to be and I think someone else leading the way could do wonders. Bruce Cassidy looks to be the heir to the throne and seems to be a perfect choice given his relationship with the younger players from his time as head coach of the Providence Bruins. If not him, there’s someone out there that could get the job done and just because we aren’t familiar with these people, doesn’t mean they aren’t good. Also, I know we don’t have the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin or Kris Letang, but I can’t help but look at a Penguins team that was reeling at this point last year who made the switch to Mike Sullivan, which propelled them to a Stanley Cup. I wouldn’t consider Sullivan an outstanding coach but he did something right to lead them to a Stanley Cup. Just something to consider.

I’m not sold that Julien has really changed with his relationship to younger players either. He has infused a lot of younger talent with Brandon Carlo, Austin Czarnik, and of course Pastrnak, yet I still see old tendencies with him involving younger guys. Just look at the other day, Colin Miller finally starts to show his potential and he sits him for John-Michael Liles while Adam McQuaid and Kevan Miller still get a regular shift. Same can be said for Joe Morrow, who has looked more confident this season but has been in the press box for a month. Plus, I’d be hesitant to say he’s given Ryan Spooner the best chance to succeed at times so I don’t buy that argument entirely.

As far as the scoring stats go, there’s a difference between scoring a lot of goals and scoring timely goals. Timely goals are had off an odd man rush, on the power play, or on the tail-end of a dominant shift and too often, that doesn’t happen for them. Goals like that result in wins and clearly, that is something they are still working on this year. And the people who toss around advanced stats freely, I have no use for you. It doesn’t accurately represent many things and I believe those stats are used by people who don’t really understand the game to make their argument sound legitimate, so yeah, I’m not a fan.

Julien has done a lot of good things here but as the saying goes, all good things come to an end. I fear if he stays, the same lackluster efforts will be put forth in must-win games and they’ll find themselves outside the playoff bubble for the third straight year. A trade could also be the solution but unless they bring in a game-changer, I don’t think that’ll be enough with the same coach at the helm.

A shakeup is needed, and needed now for this Bruins team.

About Ryan Ames - @_RyanAmes

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