The Bruins may have 41 points and may be among the best teams in the NHL, at least according to the standings, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that the B’s could use a shake-up.
While they certainly don’t need to blow it up and start from scratch, and they may not even need to make some sort of organization-altering blockbuster trade, something needs to change.
The Bruins, for the fifth time this season and the fourth time this month, blew a third-period lead on Tuesday night, this time to Winnipeg in a 3-1 loss. It’s no longer just something that happens here and there. It has become a trend, a pattern that almost certainly catches up with a team, usually sooner than later.
“It’s not good enough,” Shawn Thornton said after the B’s blew a 1-0 lead entering the third. “We should be pissed off in here. It’s becoming a habit. It’s not acceptable.”
In a way, the loss certainly illustrated the need to upgrade. Where the Bruins actually do upgrade, however, is going to be the big question. Do you look to bolster the offense by adding a forward or two? Do you shore up the blue line by adding a veteran defenseman? Or, maybe, do you do both? The case could be made for either.
One of those issues was on display early in Tuesday’s game. Defenseman Adam McQuaid was checked into the corner boards by Eric Tangradi, and McQuaid fell awkwardly on his left arm. It was apparent from the get-go that he was in a ton of pain, and he eventually left the game with an upper-body injury.
Even if McQuaid isn’t lost for an extended period of time, there’s a case to be made to add defensive depth. General manager Peter Chiarelli, head coach Claude Julien and the rest of the Bruins do have a decision looming. Julien has shown in the past the desire to pair both Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on the top defensive pairing when the playoffs roll around. If he decides to do that again, the coach may be left susceptible to some issues on the other D-pairs.
Dougie Hamilton had arguably his ugliest turnover of the season in the third period Tuesday, and he certainly has shown on multiple occasions this season that he is indeed a rookie defenseman. Would Julien and the Bruins really want to pair him up with anyone but Chara or Seidenberg in the playoffs? Andrew Ference has experience, but he’s also shown signs of regression this season. If he isn’t able to right the ship, then you have another question mark on the blue line. So maybe you do have to make an upgrade or addition there.
But the offense isn’t much better. In fact, you could pin most of the Bruins’ third-period collapses on the attack. For whatever reason, the B’s become timid and sit back when they have the lead late. Julien is starting to sound like a broken record as he continues to point to the inability to take advantage of opportunities as a reason for the blown leads. That has snowballed, and the club’s inability to extend leads is certainly playing a role.
An upgrade at the forward position could stabilize, say, the third line. That line has yet to find any sort of real production, let alone consistency, and it’s making things difficult for the B’s to get clicking on all cylinders offensively.
Of course, the Bruins could also use help on the power play. Taking on the No. 27 penalty kill Tuesday night, the B’s went 0-for-4, with their best chance on the power play coming from a defenseman when Chara was robbed by Ondrej Pavelec.
The Bruins, for their part, are saying that they would like to upgrade on offense given the chance.
“I think that if we were looking at possibly one thing it would probably be adding something to the forward group,” team president Cam Neely said on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Tuesday. “We understand there could be some limitations there. As I’ve said many times, we’re constantly looking to upgrade our team and how we get ourselves the best chances to win. We’re going to continue to do that.”
That, of course, can change, depending on situations like injuries (McQuaid) or other situations (Carl Soderberg). But the Bruins’ roster complexion could also use some change, too, as the B’s are starting to look more and more vulnerable by the day.