It is a good time to be a Bruin's fan today
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04-05-2004, 04:31 PM
Michael Karlstrom II
It is a good time to be a Bruin's fan today
but I am really wondering when hasn't it been the last few years [or even during my lifetime really]
I'm turning 36 come June and in my lifetime the Bruins have won two Stanley Cups and been to the finals five times. That is a 7 out of 35 success rate of being one of the last 2 teams playing hockey for the season.
For a quick comparison sake Chicago has no cups in that time and only 3 trips to the finals while the powerful Toronto Maple Leafs have no cups and not a single trip to the finals even.
The New York Rangers who spend more money than God on icing the 'very best team' that money can buy have one lone cup victory and just two other trips to the finals in the last 36 years.
Isn't it funny when fans of these teams laugh about how the Bruins are never going to be able to have any success because we just aren't willing to do what is necessary to win?
There are an aweful lot of teams out there who don't win every season.
St Louis has been spending money and collecting big priced superstar talent now to try to buy themselves a winner ever since their billionare owner bought the team. They still don't have a single cup victory or a trip to the finals to show for their troubles since 1970.
The Dallas Stars spent 9 million dollars a year to take the great Bill Guerin from us. They have Mike Modano who is a god of a hockey player and that great defense with Phillipe Boucher and the great young goaltender Marty Turco and they have just the one cup victory and the three other losing trips to the finals in their entire history too.
But the Boston Bruins are the team that suck because we have no plan... we aren't willing to do what is necessary to have any success.
From where I sit the Bruins have had two of the last three season finishing the year with at least 100 points and entering the playoffs with a home ice advantage. I have predicted [guaranteed] each of the last three seasons during the summer that the team would accomplish this trick only to recieve universal doubt and talk that the team just doesn't have the plan or the will to do what is necessary to win. We have heard again and again how the team will sell off their UFA at trade deadline time because we never try to win... it is only about the money here.
The Boston Bruins have missed the playoffs just three times in my lifetime... we have amazed at least 100 points in the regular season on 17 occasions.
Hockey's greatest team, the Toronto Maple Leafs have missed the playoffs 10 times and had exactly just 3 100 point seasons in this time... but their fans still get to laugh at us because our team isn't willing to do what is necessary to win.
The Detroit Red Wings spending Illitch's billions on buying the 'best team that money can ice' have missed the playoffs 15 times and have just 9 100 point seasons in the last 36 years.
The Philadelphia Flyers are a powerhouse every season except when they missed the playoffs 7 times in the last 36 years. They did managed the 100 point regular season mark a very impressive 16 times though.
What about the Montreal Canadiens? They sure have more cup wins than we do... props to them for that but even the NHL's most accomplished franchise has missed the playoffs more often than us and had fewer 100 point regular seasons.
You know... when you look at any franchise in the NHL from New Jersey to Colorado to Tampa Bay and Anaheim, it really doesn't seem any of them actually have a plan because none of them manage success every year.
What does it take to have success? Is it a cup victory? over half the teams in the NHL have never even once in their entire history's won a cup... in fact if we go into the future for the next 30 years and we assume that starting today every team in the NHL does everything humanly possible to win a cup... at the end of the 30 years there will still be at least one team that has not won the cup despite doing everything they could to win.
This is assuming that the NHL doesn't expand again in which case there could be several teams... and if one team manages to win more than once, it means another team will not have won at all... but if no team manages to win more than once than are any of them really successful? I mean is one cup in 30 years enough to be considered successful?
We have 2 cups in my lifetime... 5 in the last 80 years... about one every 16 seasons.
I know most of us here probably weren't alive the last time Bobby Orr laced up skates for an NHL game and I am talking 'aincent history' to many here but what really constitutes franchise success... the ability for a fan of a team to be proud that he has stayed faithful waiting for his or her time now for all these years?
I know if the Bruins do win the cup this season, everyone is going to go wild and we will have more happy fans here than we know what to do with... and well we should. I don't every mind someone else sharing with me the knowledge that the Bruins are the greatest team in the NHL to be a proud fan of.
I guess I just wish that some people did have a greater understanding of the overall scope of things. It really has bothered me over the last few years to be called a management apologist and to be accused of not living in reality and not understanding just what the Bruin's plan was.
I saw this all quite clearly each and every step along the way [okay maybe the Marty McInnis acquistion bothered me some... and I really hate that Andy Delmour has the possibility of one day tainting a Bruin Jersey too but overall, the deals all have made perfect sense to the overall big picture]
The Bruins want to put out a team we can be proud of... I have often seen almost every single poster here laugh at how the Rangers are overspending on a Jagr or a Bure... I have seen glee at the failings of a Bill Guerin or an Anson Carter after they took the big money and ran from the Bruins. Our fans here do not want to see the team ice a squad of the 'best players' money can buy.
Growing up in the 70's the team was known as the lunch pail brigade and we cheered it because guys like Terry O'Reilly, Dan Marcotte, Stan Johnathon, and even Mike Milbury may not have been the most talented players in the NHL... but they were never going to be outworked for a single game they played.
Cam Neely was a world class talent in the 1980's and so was Raymond Bourque but they were true Bruins because they left their hearts and souls out on the ice with every shift they skated.
Personally I am glad that the current team doesn't have any 7 million dollar a year prima donnas on it. I would probably be even more glad if maybe a Michael Nylander hadn't been added at the deadline if we could have got someone else with more jam to his game... but a team can handle one or two or even three softer players if the heart of the squad is willing to go to the trenches and get the job done.
We have one big team. Pittsburg used to just disgust me with fear when all their 6'2/6'3 monsters came out and just had their way with Don Sweeney and the boy's on the blueline back in the early 1990's.
I love now being able to put out our own 700 pound legion of doom line... even if none of them do hit constantly the way I might like.
Patrice Bergeron and Nicholas Boynton are two of our young guns and each is clearly demonstrating that they will be warriors for us for years to come.
Martin Lapointe has taken a lot of heat here on the boards for not being worth his contract over the last couple seasons... but he seems to finally be healthy and if we pay attention to see what he is doing on the ice these days we will notice he is going to war each and every shift and he is leading us by example.
Big Joe is a better player today than he was at the beginning of the season and better then than he was last year and better then than he was the year before. He is already as talented a player as there is in the NHL and he is just developing the little parts of his game to the next level as he goes. We need to see him now step up for a crunch time showing but we have a real gem and a future hall of famer here... we really should appreciate him more.
Samsonov is a bit softer and smaller than I would like in an ideal world but he is Mr. Excitement on the ice and his performance down the stretch would seem to indicate he might be feeling healthy for the first time in the last two seasons. When he is at full speed I would take him in any list of the 5 most dangerous offensive threats in the game. It is easy to lose ourselves in the 'what have they done for me lately mentality' which is really the whole thing I want to speak on in this posting... so we can all look to see that Sammy hasn't had 100 points even in the last two seasons combined and think that he is finished or whatever... or is even a never going to be...
reality is though that he is still in the very prime of his career and easily could still be improving for the next 2-3 seasons. He has never played top line PP minutes for the Bruins... hasn't been a regular winger on our top scoring line now since we dealt Jason Allison away... give me one shift where a team needs to score a goal and offer me any one player I can put over the ice that I think can generate that goal... and I am going to go for Sammy as one of my top 10 choices... not bad for our 'second line' guy.
Brian Rolston is taking some heat here lately too... I personally don't believe he is well suited for the role of checking line 'center' myself and I certainly don't see him as a scoring line 'center' either. He should be a winger... but that said, the dude is still producing at around a 30 goal a season scoring pace the last three years playing with Axelsson/Zamuner/Lapointe as his regular linemates.
He gives us three legit scoring threat lines by himself... and he isn't horrible with his defensive assignments... and he is a pretty damn good penalty killer.
This is about putting a team together with enough guys in the right positions to fill enough holes that we actually can win when the games mean something.
I think we are there... look at our top nine forwards... Murray/Thornton/Knuble are as good of a producing first line as there has been in the NHL the last two seasons. Take the Colorado three or the Vancouver three and a case can be made they are every bit as good... but no one is going to be able to statistically prove that they are significantly any better than our guys.
Bergeron/Nylander/Samsonov don't have the ton of history together but each can be argued by themselves as a fine second line option. They seem to be clicking together... their styles certainly contrast the top guys which is usually a good thing. Fitting the right pegs into the right holes...
Lapointe/Rolston/Axelsson has often been able to play well enough to be considered the best third line in hockey over the last three years when they are in their grove. There might be a line or two out there who have outrproduced the trio but then there defense wouldn't have been as good as our guys. There are certainly third lines who are better shutdown guys but their offense isn't as good as our guys. We can win with this as our third line.
Donato/Green/Zamuner are all established NHL vets and Green/Zamuner have been top 9 guys for good teams in recent years... but these are now all guys that we are using for depth roles. Depth is a good thing for a playoff run and we now have more of it than we have had any time since the late 1970's IMO.
This is good.
Our defense is good too... far better than the so called 'experts' on television would know since I doubt they have actually watched a game we have played in the last year based on some of the moronic stuff they say in their broadcasts.
Gonchar might be better offensively than he is defensively but saying this isn't the same thing as saying he is 'bad' defensively. He is actually more than good enough defensively to be a very legit number 1 d-man who makes a team better when he is on the ice 25+ minutes a game. A good offensive is a good defense... and Gonchar provides great offensive punch from the blueline. He is the best pickup the team has made since the drafting of Joe Thornton in 1997 and considering how much I love Murray and Boynton and Raycroft, I am not sure how much better praise I can give to the Gonchar acquistion than that.
Speaking of Boynton, he is young and he isn't going to have his A game every single night out there but how could we ask for any more competitive spirit or willingness to improve from such an outstanding young talent. So many here want to say that he will never be a 1 or a 2 or a 3 or whatever they want to lable him as... but what does that mean? Boynton makes the team better when he is on the ice... he outplays the other team's blueliners most of the time when he is on the ice. He was an allstar player this year for a reason and he has been a stud at playoff time already in the past in his young career. We have a real blue chipper here and it is a tremendous boon to the team to be able to slot him in at number 2 on the depth chart here and to be able to count on him for a solid 22-23 min of ice each game now that the important games are here.
Hal Gill is clearly a dimensional player but I wouldn't call him one dimensional anymore and neither should anyone else who has been watching his progress the last 3 years or so. His size is always obvious and by it and it alone, he has value to a team. That value gets greatly increased though when he starts using his size for more than getting in the way of opponents. A Gill that rubs people out is a monster to go against for 4-5-6-7 game series. If he isn't being asked to play 20+ min himself in these long battles to wear himself down too... than a Gill who is 3 or 4 on the depth chart is really going to be a major asset to our blueline and someone that only 2-3 other teams in the NHL can actually match up with.
Dan McGillis is a hitting machine when the big games are on and adds some offensive pop to the game too. If asked to do too much, his skating limitations expose the weakness to his game but when he is playing within himself he would be a top 4 guy on any team in the NHL. Partner him up with the right guy and keep him focused and McGillis can and is a difference maker on the blueline.
Sean O'Donnell has clearly been someone asked to do too much the last few seasons with the Bruins... and yet he really hasn't sucked as much in the role as he probably really should have with his limitations. He is a far smarter hockey player than one might think. He doesn't impress anyone when he is being asked to play 21-22 min a night but if we can scale his icetime back to 16-18 min a night and tell him he is free to go out and throw the body around again, he might just be the best number 5 d-man in the NHL now that he has had the experience of being a defacto number 1 for the last couple seasons.
I personally don't particularly like Jiri Slegr and I overall sort of think he hurts a team as much as he helps it but for our own chemistry makeup he has so far played better for us than I had expected. He is better than Ian Moran or Andy Delmour or probably even Johnathon Girard so I will live with him as our 6th d-man for now.
PP are very key come playoff time and having an extra offensively gifted PP Qb available to put out on the ice when Gonchar can't go does have it's value.
Man-for-man I know the common perception of our defense is that it is slow and not top flight compared to a more reknown group like Detroit's or Jersey's... but I think the only reason we really believe this to be true is that our guys have just never been able to play a system that suits them and have never been able to play within themselves as we have been missing a Gonchar all along up until just this past month.
It has all been part of the plan to get guys together who work together and make a team... we have done that and we are now ready to see the results.
Ultimately in the playoffs so much of everything comes down to goaltending. Raycroft has not yet demonstrated to a certainity that he will be the same goaltender for the playoffs that we saw him be all year long. Who knows... with Theodore being the best young tender in the game for my money, maybe Raycroft will only be the second best netminder in this series showdown... maybe we saw last year with a very weak Anaheim team that a great goaltender and a clutch-and-grab trapping team, that the best team won't always win come playoff time...
I don't know... I don't really care at a certain level.
I want the team to win... I want the Bruins to win another cup more than I pretty much want anything else in this world. World peace? The end to starvation everywhere? A better mousetrap... sure these are all goals that I would rank in my top 100 most wished for things too, but a Bruin cup win is right there very near the very top of my most actively prayed for desires now.
Even without a cup win though I am not going to go through all this offseason crying about how i was done wrong as a Bruin fan. For me being a fan is like being married... there is a whole for better or for worst thing involved. I am so glad that I had the faith and the foresight over the last three years to see this 'plan' infolding and to be here out front rallying the troops and showing my support. I do think we have an excellent chance to win this year and when we do I want to be able to state it proudly that my faith never once waivered.
Even the horrible 96-97 meltdown wasn't all bad... it brought us Thornton and got Steve Kasper fired as coach before he could ruin our legacy anymore than he already had. The Paul Coffey experiment had me in cold terror sweats for half a year or so... but these nightmarish blips are things that have passed now and really were so small and insignificant compared to the overall other glory that it has been to be a Bruins fan.
It's a good time to be a Bruin's fan today... but then again there really has been no time in my entire life when it hasn't been.
Thanks for everything team... and I am going to be here cheering you on for every game you give us on the march to the 2004 cup victory celebration.
Go Team go
Michael Karlstrom II