The Misguided Myth of the Modern Big Bad Bruins
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01-27-2013, 08:33 PM
Hockey's Future Staff
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wellesley, MA
Originally Posted by
Terrific thread idea and very well-written.
I'm a Habs fan who's been watching the game since the late 60s and from what I've seen, toughness as a team identity is about 85% perception and 15% reality. In other words, toughness is most effective when it's used as a deterrent that remains holstered, used pretty rarely during the actual game.
The Flyers used it plenty in the 70s. In fact, they went nuclear and managed to bomb the hell out of everyone, but once the league and the rules adapted, so did Philly.
Boston is one of the teams that still identify with the 'big & tough' label, but from my POV your recent Cup was won with less-intimidating guys like Recchi, Thomas and Bergeron leading the way. Even Chara, while obviously a huge presence, wasn't at all dirty throughout the playoffs. Effective? Hell yeah. Intimidating? Not really. As others in this thread have said -- if intimidation was such a big factor, why was Boston's toughest series against less-physical Montreal and Tampa? Boston won thanks to scoring depth, a strong defensive system and great goaltending. Fighting and intimidation? Not so much, IMO.
And I don't think you guys lost last year because you were out-muscled. Washington played a great defensive system and gummed up the middle, keeping you from setting up. Holtby was hot, too. Playoffs are about matchups, and Boston didn't match up well against last year's hybrid version of the Caps.
And now most teams have some intimidation in their roster. The league's overall toughness has achieved a kind of parity where everyone has their tough guy as a deterrent to everyone else's tough guy. I don't think any team will lose games because they were intimidated or out-fought. That's not to say you should dump the 'Big-Bad Bruin' thing. It is your team's thing. But I question how much that identity is responsible for winning games. As a Habs fan, I get hives every time some Quebec farmer proclaims he wants to stock the roster with french players. Is that Montreal's identity? A few people still think so. Does it help us win games? Please...
Besides, I like the idea of Boston keeping its bad-ass rep whether or not it quantifies in the win column, because it keeps the rivalry between our two teams alive and well. Please don't allow likeable players like Bergeron, Seguin and Rask to become your identity, because it would become much harder to hate the Bruins, which would fly against fundamental physics. We can't have that.
I think teams lose games because they get intimidated. I think Milan Lucic intimidated the Sabres and that derailed their entire season. I've seen defensemen bail on retrieving pucks -in the playoffs- because they hear footsteps. That leads to wins.
The Bruins intimidated the Canucks. I don't think the Bruins win the Cup without that element to their game.
That's not to say intimidation is an easy-button to winning, but I do think it can be another tool in your toolbox.
I think there's some confusion in the thread. I think some folks are seeing the thread title challenging the "Big, Bad Bruins" moniker and disagreeing because they see the B's as being plenty intimidating. I agree, the B's are plenty intimidating, but I don't think that was necessarily the point of the OP. To me, this thread is really about whether or not the Bruins would benefit from getting bigger and/or better along the walls, specifically at the 3rd line LW position. That, I believe is a worthwhile debate.
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