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10-24-2003, 11:17 AM
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MeisterBruinmaker
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Pros and Cons of the Bruins

After watching the games so far, here's what I see as the pros and cons of the Bruins:

Pros
Goaltending - Potvin has been especially sharp after such a long layoff and poor preseason showing. Raycroft has excellent positioning, reflexes and mental toughness. I don't see many fundamental flaws in his game. The key factor here is the Bruins are no longer giving up the soft goal. If they can continue this, they will have stabilized the spot.

Team chemistry - To the credit of O'Connell, there are no big egos on this team that create divisiveness or discourse. Sometimes Thornton's performance and the veteran leadership may be lagging, but when this team wants to turn it on they can really step up.

Bruins are big - Trying to stop Thornton, Murray and Knuble is a handful for any defense, but overall the Bruins have size and strength on every line and defensive pairing.

Scoring forwards - The B's have a dynamite first line followed by solid offensive players on the second (Samsonov) and third lines (Rolston, Bergeron). This increases their likelihood to strike at any time.

The kids - There's no doubt that Raycroft, Jillson and Bergeron have stepped up in a major way. Hat's off to them as well as the coaching staff, drafting, development and scouting groups. They found these guys and got them to this level.


Cons
Second line chemistry - Kluzak said it best against Anaheim, Samsonov is skating with two up & down guys and it's not the greatest fit. He does his cutbacks and really needs someone to play the give and go. I think Gordie was right on about eventually pairing Sammy with Bergeron in one form or another. Either way, it's not just Samsonov, but the second line needs an identity. With Green, Lapointe, Zamuner, Axelsson and Rolston, the Broons have pleny of parts but noty the right pieces.

Speed & quickness on defense - Yeah yeah I've already talked about this enough. The Bruins obviously have to adjust their game in order to limit this weakness from becoming a liability, such as having the d-men drop back to keep forwards in front of them. The real killer is the breakout. Not only is the B's ability to rush the puck limited, but the first pass is also. You can see this on the PP. It also comes through in the offensive zone, where Jillson and Boynton are the only proficient backliners at jumping into the play. Overall, the limitations of the D, whether speed, quickness or core competence, is the real achilles heal of this team.

Many parts, not always the right pieces - As mentioned about the second line, the Bruins have several good players, but not necessarily the right mix. For instance, there's plenty of excellent 3rd liners of which many can drop to the second unit, but not the right guys for Samsonov. Then there's the mix on defense, which is mostly #4 stay-at-homers. The guys who offer more are young and less experienced.


Thoughts -- If at some point the B's picked up a few pending UFAs from a list that included Ron Francis, Vinny Damphousse, Peter Bondra (who probably will be gone long before that) and Alexei Kovalev for the second line coupled with one good experienced puck moving defenseman who's not a liability (Sean Hill anybody?), they will have taken major strides to strengthening their team. Maybe even throw in Brian Berard to boot.

Knuble-Thornton-Murray
Samsonov-Damphousse-Lapointe (Kovalev or Bondra would also be nice here)
Axelsson-Rolston-Bergeron/Zamuner
Green-Donato-McCarthy
Grosek

O'Donnell-Jillson
Hill-Boynton
Gill-McGillis
Berard

Raycroft-Potvin

Again, it's a long ways away, but I'd be OK if the B's solidified some of their weaker spots before the playoffs. The idea is to reduce any fundamental weaknesses by finding the right mix. Add a few experienced players and put the right pieces into place and the B's could be a whale of an underdog.

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