Peter Chiarelli, I hope you get home before Mom does because you're going to need to take this report card out of the mailbox. You've been a bad monkey.
10 games in and, the final minute of last night's game not withstanding, the Bruins have a lot of work to do. In grading this year's team I'm trying not to take into account the high expectations that we all had (have) for the team. Let's try and take a step back and look at numbers instead of just acting off of shear emotion. Mmm-kay?
-------------------------------------------------------------------Forwards: So far we haven't seen a consistent effort from these forwards with respect to offensive zone pressure or the 2-man fore-check we all heard so much about. We've heard forwards tell Naoko in between periods about 'getting too cute', and needing to 'getting pucks to the net'. What that tells me is that these attackers seem to think they have the midas touch and that defenses will simply pull the parking cone defense, let them skate past (we haven't played against Hal Gill YET) and score the goal they apparently earned through virtue of a good record last year. Yes, you still have to TRY, guys. I know it's hard, we'll get through this together. Try cycling the puck once in a while, good things will happen.
We're averaging 2.8 goals per game and 29.1 shots per game, good for 17th and 21st in the league respectively. So, way to get those pucks to the net, fellas! The Bruins are winning 49.4% of their face-offs, also good for 17th in the league. A little bit less than average across the board. Very Meh.
Everyone needs to look at Steve Begin - he's one of our best guys thus far. Injuries happen, so I'm not being lenient just because of Savard and Looch. Suck it up.
Defensemen: So far these guys have likely been our best players - even with all the moving parts and new personnel. Derek Morris is looking like the guy that we thought he was and Chara has been the leader that we need him to be. Shit, he's tied for the points lead on the team (7 points) with a guy who has a broken foot.
The team as a whole is allowing 31.3 shots per game, good for 21st in the league. Not good. Blocked shots? Well, Morris is our best player there too - tied for 35 in the league with 18. No one else is even close (Ferrence is next at tied for 44th). His predecessor, Aaron Ward? Oh, he's tied for 11th with 24. I'm just saying, it's interesting, ok?
There have been breakdowns, but they haven't been completely terrible. I've seen a couple of bad pinches, but overall I think they've been better than the offensive counterparts. But not by much.
Goaltending: Look we all like Timmy, but last night not withstanding - he's been suspect. GAA is 2.97 with a .902 save percentage. Tuuka, for all that we love to hype him, hasn't been lights out either, posting a 3.17 and .899. They both had some great saves (Tim last night, absolutely filthy stop against Alfredsson). But no one has been consistent yet, which is what they need to be. I heard Kluzac say last night that Tim would go 20 games without a stink-bomb last year and so far he's thrown up 2, maybe three.
Small sample size? Yes. But that's why we speculate, because what else would I be doing on a Sunday morning? Are they good now? Not really, will they play better - almost definitely.
Special Teams: Oh, they've been special all right. How special you might ask? Think 'Ralph Wiggum in English class' bad. How about killing power plays at 83% and scoring on them at nice even 15%. Those are both shitty. Very shitty. 24th and 27th in the league shitty.
And, oh by the way, they have 3 short-handed goals on their watch too. Where does that land in the old statistics pool? NUMBER-FUCKING-ONE!
Overall Team Grade: C
I just re-read what I wrote and I've decided that we're pretty goddamned lucky to be 5-4-1. Given the injury situation,the poor to mediocre performances by the front and back lines, not to mention to complete disaster that has been the power-play - I'm feeling good. Not like George Jung in the 70s good, but good.
If there is something to be excited about it's that they have a lot of room for improvement and they seem to be coping alright without Lucic and Savard. No doubt they responded well to the adversity of the injury bug, but we hope that this doesn't start to fade as they move forward.
Marchand looks like a guy who can really skate and move the puck. No question, he is making all the rookie mistakes but this kid looks to be a regular contributor down the road.
Lastly, if anything could be a springboard for building some identity and momentum it was last night's game. As my co-conspirator already wrote this morning, they turned it around in about 1 minute thanks to timely goals and great goal tending.
OK, it's football time. I'm starting Michael Crabtree - that's how bad my receivers are. FML.