Can the Bruins lowly offense bring success in the playoffs?

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bruins1.jpgBoston Bruins vs. New York Rangers
12:30 p.m. EST – Sunday, March 21, 2010
Live on NBC

Join us for a live chat during today’s game at Noon EST.

I know it’s tough to do, but it’s something that is key to winning
games that the Boston Bruins are having major problems actually doing:
scoring goals. The Bruins are dead last in the NHL in goals scored per
game, and somehow still find themselves in position to make the
playoffs. Heck, they’re actually in a playoff spot right now.

Even
if they are able to hold onto a playoff position, what’s the chance
they are going to be successful in the playoffs? Has any team recently
been able to actually have success in the playoffs, even if they were in
the bottom five in the NHL is scoring? The answer will not surprise you
at all.

History is not on Boston’s side.

I only took
a look at the scoring stats for playoff teams since the lockout, since
that’s when the NHL changed the rules up to make scoring so much
better.

There’s actually been a surprisingly high number of teams
able to make the playoffs with a bottom-five offense; the 05-06 Calgary
Flames, the 06-07 New Jersey Devils, the 07-08 Devils and Anaheim Ducks,
and the 08-09 New York Rangers. All of these teams made it to the
playoffs with incredibly sub-par offenses; the Flames in 2006 were even
division winners. None of these were dead least in offense, however.

Yet only the Devils in 2006-07 were able to
actually get out of the first round; they promptly lost in the second
round, and were dominated by the Ottawa Senators.

Defense alone will not win
championships.

The old adage, especially in football but even
in hockey from ten years ago, was that great defense and goaltending
could carry you to a championship. The Devils alone are proof that this
does not work any more in today’s NHL. They have the great Martin
Brodeur and the world’s stingiest defensive system; even they could not
muster much of a fight without the ability to put the puck in the net.

Every
team, for the most part, that is in the playoffs will have
good-to-great goaltending; it’s the ability to overcome your opponent’s
defense and goaltending that drives teams on to the next round. Goals
are at a premium once the playoffs start, and teams need the ability to
actually put points on the scoreboard to even have a shot at advancing.

So
now what?

The Bruins have more
problems right now then just
an inability to score; they have no fight, no motivation and supposedly
their locker room is falling apart
. Perhaps the offense is the
least of their worries — although I’m pretty certain it’s a major
concern — as they try to get their team to actually start playing
together again.

The Marc Savard injury is painful for this team to
bear, but fans cannot blame his absence for the lack of offense; Boston couldn’t score to save their life long before he was lost for,
most likely, the season.

The Bruins have to actually make
the playoffs first and that’s a sticky situation at best at this point. Could
they have success once they get there, even with Tuukka Rask playing out
of his mind? The history books — well, the recent ones — say no.

Some tough decisions await the Blues

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Yet again, the St. Louis Blues failed to achieve their ultimate goal.

And boy does it hurt right now.

“We’re all hurting,” coach Ken Hitchcock said last night after getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

“You don’t want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block. In this game, in this era, in this cap world, you don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now.”

Indeed, GM Doug Armstrong has some tough decisions to make this offseason.

At the top of the list is whether to bring Hitchcock back. Yes, the Blues did better than 26 other teams, and yes, they finally got past the first round. Still, there are people who believe this will be it for the head coach, that a new voice could help. Overall, Hitchcock has done a great job in St. Louis. But then, so did Todd McLellan in San Jose. Sometimes, change can be good.

Then there are the unrestricted free agents. Both captain David Backes and winger Troy Brouwer need new contracts. The former is 32, the latter 30. The former had seven goals in the playoffs, the latter eight. How much money will they want? How much term? The second question might be the most important.

On the back end, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk that will garner the most attention. He’s signed through next season before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Just 27 years old, and considering the demand for what he does, he’ll be very expensive to keep. And with the emergence of Colton Parayko, trading Shattenkirk could probably be justified, especially if the return is good. A team like the Boston Bruins might be willing to pay up.

Right now, the pain is still fresh for the Blues.

“It’s so hard to win in the league right now,” said Hitchcock. “It’s so hard to win a series. So hard to just get in the playoffs. When you get this far, you get this close, you think you got the opportunity.”

The challenge for Armstrong will be to give his team another opportunity next season. And with the draft less than a month away, all these tough decisions will need to be made very soon.

Goals of the Week get tougher as Cup Final approaches

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The Stanley Cup Final is almost upon us and picking the very best Goals of the Week is a tough task. See how we did on this edition!

Just for Men: Mike Commodore

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 14:  Mike Commodore #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes warms up before game five of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers on June 14, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty
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Maybe one would argue that time hasn’t been kind to the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (at least compared to the pedigree of other winners), but Mike Commodore’s incredible red afro and beard rank as one of hockey’s most timeless combinations.

Seriously, just take a step back from your monitor* and bask in the splendor of that carrot-topped Commodore.

Even then-President George W. Bush remarked on Commodore’s bushy hair and beard (or its tragic absence) when the Canes visited the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Have a seat. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy that doesn’t know how to ice skate — (laughter) — to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the White House. We appreciate you coming. You know, I’m not sure what is prettier, the Stanley Cup, or Mike Commodore’s hair. (Laughter.) A little disappointed you got a haircut. (Laughter.) But, welcome.

Good stuff.

And it really is kind of disappointing any time you see Commodore relatively clean-shaven. It’s like Superman without a big “S” on his chest or Metallica with short hair or any number of not-quite-right sights.

* – If you’re doing the Rumsfeld-style “standing at your desk” thing then … kneel for a second maybe?

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal