by Bob Morello
Bruins end season
Bruins fans were hopeful that the ominous footsteps they heard following the team’s five-game win streak were not the sounds of missing the playoffs. After all, the Bruins fans have been treated to the playoffs the entire seven seasons that Coach Claude Julien has held the reins. Well, not so this year. The 2014-15 season roster experienced several stretches of inconsistency – so much so that it cost them a playoff appearance. Over the course of this season this column has addressed the signs of inconsistency, yet it is still hard to understand why it couldn’t be corrected.
As a result, Boston Bruins President Cam Neely announced on Wednesday, that Peter Chiarelli had been relieved of his duties as General Manager of the Boston Bruins. An Interim General Manager will not be named at this time and the search for a new hire – which will be led by Bruins Chief Executive Officer Charlie Jacobs and Neely – will begin immediately. The Bruins current Assistant General Managers, Player Personnel Staff and Coaching Staff will remain in place at this time.
Monday’s ‘Year-end Availability’ with the players did not really give any answers as to why this had happened, only the realization that it could not be used as an excuse for missing the playoffs! To a man, each player responded in much the same way, touching on the inconsistency factor, and admitting it had existed.
Beginning at the top with coach Julien, who during the press conference stated: “When they played the system they played well, but they weren’t consistently playing it…I think there’s a lot of players that did it well, there’s other players that didn’t do it as well as others and it created those situations. When those things happen it becomes a confidence issue. You trust each other out there on doing the right thing and that’s the biggest challenge for a coach nowadays is getting the whole team to play the same way and trusting each other that the right thing is going to be done. I think there was times that for different reasons that wasn’t happening.”
Zdeno Chara explained that the lack of consistent effort bothered him as a captain of the team…“It’s not ideal. It’s something that you wish you would have that every game. Even though there have been up and downs this season, you’re going to have some stretches of going through games that are going to be rough. But again, we never hit that time of the year that we would go on a roll and then could afford to have those kind of games or spans where we knew that okay, now we’re in a little bit of a slump. But you can afford those when you get on a roll, you win seven, eight, nine games out of ten or eleven and you can build a little cushion. But we never had that.”
Patrice Bergeron didn’t hold back when asked if the team’s lack of consistency is why they didn’t make the playoffs…”Yeah, I agree with it one hundred percent. I think from day one, you know, we’ve lacked consistency all year and we’ve let huge points slip by late in games to obviously shootouts. We’ve had some stretches of good hockey followed with another same kind of stretch of not so good hockey and it definitely hurt us right now to get into the playoffs.”
Last season’s Vezina Trophy winner; Tuukka Rask put it out there with, “We didn’t play consistent hockey, even within the games. We barely put a sixty-minute game together, so that won’t take you too far, obviously. But we battled and we were really close, but when you can’t find that consistency over the course of 82 games, you have failed as a team. That’s why we’re not in the playoffs.”
Milan Lucic, often mentioned as possible future trade material, summed it up with, “We had some winning streaks and we had an 8-1-2 streak in March. I just think that there was too much inconsistency throughout individuals and players on the team, and we didn’t bring our best game night-in, night-out. I think that’s what hurt us, because personally I still believe in the game plan, and I think the game plan works, and will continue to work. It’s just about being more consistent in our game as players.”
Dennis Seidenberg played in all 82 games following knee surgery, his explanation was, “Well, I think consistency is definitely one thing. We did play well for five, ten games and then we just wiped it out right after for the next five to ten games. So we never really a grasp on success and ran with it. It was always an up and down, and that’s what cost us at the end. Chris Kelly expressed his feeling that the players’ inability to execute the coach’s system was key, “The system that’s put in place since I’ve been here is a winning system and we had followed the system and everyone had success. For whatever reason we didn’t follow it on a consistent basis and when we did we had success but it wasn’t there enough this year.”
Finally, Adam McQuaid’s frustration was felt in his answer, “I mean, I don’t know for what reason the consistency was probably the main thing that was difficult for us this year. Not only within games, but from game to game. We would have a good period and maybe a not so good period, and then we would go on a stretch of winning games and a stretch of losing games. That kind of seems to be the pattern; you just want to focus on playing and not analyzing. It was a focus of ours to try to bring that consistency and we weren’t able to find it.”
USA Hockey announced that Bruins defenseman Torey Krug has been named to the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team that will compete in the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation Men’s World Championship from May 1-17 in Ostrava and Prague, Czech Republic.