“Slump” is the word of the month in January for the Boston Bruins.
It won’t show in the record however. They are tied for first in the NHL and lead their conference by 10 points.
But the Bruins aren’t playing up to speed, and it comes back with two big names: Milan Lucic and Phil Kessel out.
No team loses their biggest scorer and their toughest player without consequence. Because of the loses, on top of Patrice Bergeron’s, Andrew Ference, and Marco Sturm’s injuries, Claude Julien has been trying everything he can to fill the holes in the lines.
The first line has seen a number of faces since Kessel and Lucic have been out, including Chuck Kobasew and last night, Vladamir Sabotka.
Julien has been forced to give a lot of young guys like Sabotka ice time. Over all, it has worked. No one can complain about guys like David Krejci and Matt Hunwick, who seem to be working out great in their roles this year.
Unfortunately, it’s hard for any young team to keep up in the NHL when their big guns are out like they are. You can see the lack of zest in the Bruins’ offense. In both of this week’s games against the Blues and Leafs, the B’s had trouble making plays and finding open shots.
Inexperience kills. When Martin St. Pierre got caught tripping at the end of the game, it showed real lack of awareness. It showed that maybe he really does deserve to go back down to Providence again, like he will be after the All-Star break, along with Lashoff and Sabotka.
The youth hasn’t sunk the boat, however. The Bruins are still talented in every department, and that includes their rookies. Even if they played sloppy through two periods of hockey on both Monday and Wednesday, they were still able to pull together quite a comeback in both instances.
If it weren’t for a lucky miracle shot by St Louis in the last second on Monday, the B’s could have come away the victors that day. On Wednesday, they came out on top primarily because of their rookies that came through in the end.
In the shootout, Wheeler’s goal was a work of art, and St. Pierre undoubtedly blew everyone’s mind when he came out and scored.
The comebacks on Monday and Wednesday are microcosms for the Bruins’ season. They might be down right now, but they are not out. If there is any time to slump in the NHL, it's January.
It doesn’t hurt that they have a 10 point lead on Washington in the East to work with.
Looch and Kessel left big holes this month, but Julien puts faith in his young team because he trusts that they can produce. If he trusts them, so do I.