B’s Beat: Some Boston Bruins Are Off To Slow Starts
With the Boston Bruins now seven games into the regular season, we are beginning to get a much clearer picture as to how this season will go for the team. Sure it is early, but there are some players who have struggled throughout the early going to put up the numbers they are accustomed to. The two biggest names that jump out at you are Brad Marchand and Jarome Iginla.
Iginla is a notorious slow starter in the NHL and has been for some time. He is the type of player that will score his goals in bunches once he finally does find the back of the net for his first goal as a Bruin.
I suppose it would be of greater concern if he was playing poorly throughout the early going, but this is not the case. Iggy leads the B’s in shots with 24 on the season. Unfortunately none of those 24 have found twine, but I don’t think he is the type of player who allows himself to get frustrated. It is clear that the Bruins’ first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Iginla is still working on their chemistry. Despite not making a huge impact on the score sheet (2 assists and a +3 through 7 games), Iginla is making an impact on his new line mates in Boston.
Krejci is off to an excellent start with 1 goal, 5 assists, and a +3. It looks as if he is carrying some of that playoff dominance into the regular season, which is a good thing considering the fact that he can be inconsistent throughout long stretches. Lucic has also been stellar to start the season with 3 goals, 3 assists, and a +2. A big part of Looch’s early season performance can be attributed to the presence of Iginla, as he was someone Lucic looked up to when he was growing up. Getting a chance to play with your heroes can have an positive influence.
While Iginla hasn’t scored, he is still a positive influence on the team. Then you’ve got Brad Marchand who has been somewhat of an opposite.
Marchand led the Bruins in scoring last season and seemed to be making significant strides in becoming a reliable scorer for the team that was desperately lacking a real finisher. His playoff performance was also good, though he was completely shutout in the finals by the Chicago Blackhawks’ defensive unit. Marchand has always been a player that played with an edge, and in the past it has been very effective. Unfortunately it looks as if he has stepped away from that style of play a bit this season.
I can understand why he would want to tone down his questionable antics give the NHL’s effort to crackdown on repeat offenders this season. A good example of this would be Buffalo’s Patrick Kaleta receiving a 5 game suspension just days ago. Kaleta has less talent than Marchand, but the two have similar reputations. If he were to slip up under any circumstances, it is completely within the realm of possibility for the Bruins’ feisty winger to see a similar suspension.
The problem with Marchand’s effort to tone down his play, is that it keeps him from being the player he had to be to make it in to the NHL. It’s almost as if he is saying “hey, I’m in the NHL now, so why should I have to keep taking these risks?”
Milan Lucic went through a similar problem a couple seasons ago when he seemed to limit his fighting and physical play. Almost as if he had become complacent. I could be way off base here, but I strongly believe that this is a problem for young NHL players. Once a player has made it, they sometimes stop doing the thing that got them there.
Fortunately for himself and the Bruins, Lucic has gotten back to what made him great, so the hope is definitely there for Marchand too. Its also early too, so perhaps he will shake the rust off. He’d better, because Reilly Smith has been outstanding to start the year and has taken his spot with Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson. If he wants it back, he is going to have to play a hell of a lot better than he has to start the year.
I have faith in Marchand, and I doubt the Bruins would give up on him. He just needs to produce more than he has. I think he will turn it around, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he will. He has 1 goal, 1 assist, and a -1 to start the year, a far cry from his team leading performance last season.
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