After the Boston Bruins 4-0 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday, a lot of fans were left confused- what is happening with this team that makes them so sporadic in their play? Here are some of the potential causes of the Bruins consistency issues that are baffling players and fans alike.
Boston Bruins Consistency Issues
A lot of teams, when facing these kinds of issues, will be quick to blame the coach. This is not the case in Boston, where head coach Claude Julien is still seen as a strong leader for the team. There can, however, be some improvements made under Julien. Assistant coach Doug Houda was let go at the end of last season. There is mention that Joe Sacco may be the next on the chopping block, especially if Boston’s defensive core continues to struggle.
Offensive and Defensive Struggles
One of the main problems that have contributed to the Bruins consistency issues is the inability of forwards to score at vital times. David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand are both in the top-20 players in the league for goals scored – Marchand is also seventh in total points. But the team has been shut out four times this season, and averages just 2.4 goals per game. David Krejci has started to show some promise mid-season, after some initial rusty play. The return of Frank Vatrano to the lineup has added a bit more offensive force. The return of Matt Beleskey from a knee injury in the next few games may help even more.
Meanwhile on the blue line, Boston continues to deal with defensive inconsistency as well. Team captain Zdeno Chara, as well as rookie phenom Brandon Carlo, lead the team in ice time. But injuries to the rest of the core, notably Kevan Miller, John-Michael Liles, and Colin Miller, has left the team in a bit of a revolving-door situation in terms of defense.
It goes without saying that top goaltender Tuukka Rask is the team’s best player. He has held the team on his back this season, and the team has only been able to win a single game without the 29-year-old in net. The fact that they are unable to do this is a major issue. The three backup goaltenders who have played this season: Malcolm Subban (0-1-0), Anton Khudobin (1-5-1, with a 3.06 goals-against average), and Zane McIntyre (0-3-1, with a 3.07 goals-against average).
While Rask has said that he wants to play as much as he can, it is not feasible to have him play every game. There is always the chance that injury could sideline him like it did at the beginning of the season.
Something Else Entirely
The team cancelled practice on Tuesday, and assistant captain Patrice Bergeron cited a need to “regroup” as the main reason. There is reason to believe that he, along with fellow assistants David Backes, Krejci, and captain Chara, held a players-only meeting in order to discuss issues that the team has been having.
Julien: There's work to be done. You have to have perseverance. You have to have commitment to make things better.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) January 17, 2017
It might be said that the major issue with this season’s Boston Bruins has been complacency. The team has consistently lost momentum at times, which has led to them both losing leads and failing to earn them. The fact that this has happened several times against last-place teams, such as the Islanders and the Colorado Avalanche, is a concern.
They need to do something to get back on track and winning consistently, not just barely scraping by. Whether this means a change in personnel on or behind the bench still needs to be seen. But there needs to be a change somewhere in the system to shake things up.