The Boston Bruins have been desperately searching for consistency this season. The B’s have been able to beat some of the best teams in the league, yet underwhelm when facing the struggling teams in the NHL.
As a fan, it’s hard to say what kind of season the Boston Bruins are having. Sure, the Bruins are still in second place in the Atlantic Division. But there are teams that are very close behind them.
The playoff race is exceptionally tight right now. The Ottawa Senators are just three points behind them with five games in hand over the Black and Gold. The Bruins could have given themselves a little more cushion against the struggling New York Islanders, but found themselves shutout at home, losing to the one of the worst teams in the league 4-0.
That seems to be the Bruins biggest problem. They excel at playing the stronger teams and fail against the weaker teams. That weakness seems to multiply when the B’s are playing at the TD Garden. Once again, the Bruins are strong on the road, and mediocre at home.
The Bruins are 13-8-5 on the road. While it’s not exceptional, it’s decent. The Boston Bruins are 10-11-0 at home. Once again, the B’s find themselves below the .500 mark, and it has made the fans anxious.
The Bruins front office sat down with season ticket holders and the media last weekend at the “State of the Bruins” event. Once again, Bruins President Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney took flak from the fans who wondered why the Black and Gold were playing the way they did.
Here’s how the Bruins front office responded to the challenge of the team doing so poorly at the TD Garden (from the Boston Bruins website).
Bruins President Cam Neely: “It’s been a year-and-half below par for us. It’s been disappointing from our perspective; I know it’s been disappointing from your perspective. I know the players think about, they’re frustrated with it. I think on the road you play a little simpler game…we want to do well in front of your fans and have a great home record. Sometimes when you worry too much about that, you start thinking instead of just reacting and playing.”
Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney: “We need to do a better job in front of each and every one of you with our home record. We currently sit in second place in the Atlantic, but we feel that we’ve left some points on the table. The last two seasons, in particular, we haven’t played as well as we’re capable of in front of you. In our own building, we’re tracking at 47 or 48 percent of the points available, versus 61 [on the road].”
At the moment, the Bruins are hanging on to a playoff spot. If the Bruins can hang on to an Atlantic spot or even a wild card slot, we can expect things to remain the same in the Bruins front office. If the Bruins fall out of playoff contention and miss the postseason for the third straight year, things will radically change at the TD Garden.
What sort of changes?
Claude Julien (if he wasn’t already) will be let go. While he may have the most career wins by a Boston Bruins head coach, that honorific won’t save him if the Bruins don’t make the playoffs. Julien’s defensive-minded hockey system is a little too stuffy for some players, and it no longer has the track record of success it once had.
Cam Neely will likely also be out of a job. (The Jacobs family will likely move Neely into a Johnny Bucyk type role rather than fire him outright.) Neely was the man giving the ‘OK’ to a lot of moves by Peter Chiarelli. He’s also been the man behind the scenes of many of Don Sweeney’s moves.
Don Sweeney will likely be the only one of the main people in management to keep his job (if just barely). He promised the Jacobs family that he had a ‘five-year plan’ (Keep in mind Stalin also had a few ideas about a five-year plan). The Bruins ownership will likely let Sweeney continue with his current course as long as it generates success.
If the B’s fail to make the playoffs again, there will be turnover among the players. The Bruins core will remain, but middle-six forwards will find themselves either traded or in free agency.