While there are plenty of reasons the Bruins are just 12-15-2 over their last 29 games, defenseman Andrew Ference chose to point out one glaring issue — and player — in discussing the solution with CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty.
“[Staying together] is not just important, it’s essential. It’s the only way to have any success whatsoever,” Ference said. “Our trainer tells our young guys — especially [Brad] Marchand or somebody like that –- to run with the pack of gazelles. If you’re the gazelle that runs away from the pack then you’re the one that’s going to get eaten.
“Especially Marchand…I think he needs to remember that.”
While his quote veered close to Alan’s speech from The Hangover (“And my wolf pack… it grew by one. So there… there were two of us in the wolf pack… I was alone first in the pack…”), Ference makes a salient point.
Lately, Marchand’s game has gone quiet in all facets. He’s scored just two points in March and barely resembles the annoying pest everybody loves to hate. As Haggerty writes, “he hasn’t been the rabble-rousing emotional catalyst he’s supposed to be when he’s playing his role as resident agitator.”
That said, it’s hardly fair to pin Boston’s struggles on a 23-year-old winger, or his tendencies to stray from the pack. The issues with this team are glaring: Nathan Horton (concussion) and Rich Peverley (MCL) are tough to replace offensively and Tim Thomas is on pace for his biggest workload in five years. There’s also the wear and tear from last year’s lengthy playoff run, and the fatigue that comes with it.
Of course, head coach Claude Julien isn’t about to start making excuses. He’s got his own spin on Ference’s pack mentality.
“We’re not a team that relies on one or two guys to bail us out. We’ve always been a group that does it by committee,” he said. “We realize that what we have here and what we’re all about is that our strength has been as a pack. It’s not as individuals. We need to play within our strength.
“It’s not about one guy as much as it’s about all of us picking up our game and putting it in the right direction.”
When it comes to point streaks for U.S.-born NHL players, Patrick Kane now stands alone.
With a power-play goal early in Saturday’s Blackhawks – Kings game, Kane extended his streak to 19 games, breaking a tie with Phil Kessel and Eddie Olczyk (who finished with at least a point in 18 straight).
As of this writing, Kane has 11 goals and 19 assists during this 19-game streak. He also leads the NHL in scoring.
Bobby Hull’s 21-game point streak stands as the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall team record, by the way.
You know what they say: it’s easy to bash a strategy in hindsight.
Slam that NFL head coach for going for it on fourth down … or settling for the field goal. Bury that MLB manager because he kept a pitcher in too long. And so on.
“Score effects” settle in during almost any lopsided hockey game, yet the Dallas Stars present quite a conundrum: what’s the best way to put a way a team with this much firepower?
Tonight may have presented the greatest evidence that this team won’t go away easy, as it seemed like the Minnesota Wild had the best of a tired Stars team* when they built a 3-0 lead.
Instead, the Stars scored three third-period goals while Tyler Seguin capped the comeback with an overtime-winner.
It was one of those bend-and-then-break moments for Minnesota. Dallas generated a 44-26 shot advantage, including a ridiculous 35-15 edge in the final two periods.
Does that mean that Mike Yeo may have tried to play too conservatively with a healthy lead? It’s a possibility.
On the other hand, would the Wild be wiser to try to run-and-gun with one of the most dangerous offenses in the NHL?
It sure seems like a pick-your-poison situation. Which way would you lean, though?
* – To be fair to Minnesota, each team was on back-to-backs.
If nothing else, the New Jersey Devils seem like they won’t be the sort of team a contender can essentially mark off as a “W” on their calendars.
The Montreal Canadiens may not be in a position to take opponents lightly with Carey Price on the shelf, but whatever the case may be, they saw their four-game winning streak end in frustrating fashion on Saturday.
After falling behind 2-0, the Devils scrapped their way back into it, eventually riding a John Moore overtime goal to a 3-2 OT win.
If Montreal needs an obvious bright side to look on considering this hiccup, Alex Galchenyuk‘s hot weekend may be a good thing to look at.
Tonight’s loss may smart a bit anyway, however.
If you want to summarize the Capitals – Maple Leafs game in one sentence, you could do worse than:
“Washington is hot as Jonathan Bernier is cold.”
The Caps reeled off a 4-2 win against Toronto on Saturday, giving them five straight wins. They also jumped into first place in the Metropolitan Division today, as they keep climbing while the New York Rangers are experiencing some growing pains.
Again, James Reimer can’t get healthy and back in Toronto’s net too soon:
With this win, Washington is now 17-5-1, leading the Metro by one point with 35 standings points. They also hold a game in hand against the Rangers, and no other Metro team even has 30 right now.
Measuring stick stretch begins
Tonight’s game began a “prove-it” month-and-change for Washington.
This contest began a three-game road trip, and they’ll also play six of seven away from Washington.
It’s pretty rough through the start of 2016, really. The Capitals will only enjoy three home games through Jan. 9.
In other words, the Capitals seem like a convincing East contender, but look out if they remain hot through the next 5-6 weeks.