G15 Oilers at Bruins

Boston might be best known for a tea party, but the city also knows about other ways to celebrate. Last season, the Bruins won a Stanley for Boston and Bruin fans everywhere. After winning the Stanley in 1970 and again in 1972, Boston lost in the finals 5 times: 1974, 1977, 1978, 1988 and 1990. It was a long time between drinks. 

The Bruins could (and should) have won more Stanley’s in the Orr decade, but they made a lot of poor off-ice decisions and it cost the organization dearly. Even if we take only their goaltending decisions in 1972 it gives us an idea about just how badly the entire thing was botched. GM Milt Schmidt protected Gerry Cheevers, although the veteran would later jump to the WHA same summer. Boston lost outstanding young G prospect Daniel Bouchard to Atlanta in that summer’s expansion draft, so lost two quality goaltenders that July.

Eddie Johnston was uneven as a starter, and veteran minor leaguer Ross Brooks plus young John Adams weren’t deemed worthy of playoff starts. So on March 3, 1973, Boston traded their first round pick (who would become D Ian Turnbull, a pretty good hockey player) and a player to be named later (Eddie Johnston would be sent away in May as the PTDNL–it was a crazy time).

Who did they acquire?

This is Jacques Plante. Boston paid dearly for a few games at the end of the regular season and 2 playoff appearances. Boston finally solved their G problems with Gilles Gilbert by trading one of their centers (Fred Stanfield) to Minnesota. Soonafter Cheevers would return and settle the position down.

My hope for this Bruin team is that they make better decisions with their fine hockey team. Boston fans deserve it and lord knows they’ve suffered enough. I was a Bruin fan all down the line, right up until 1979 when the Oilers arrived. Part of me still cheers for them and I cheered like mad for them last spring. I hope they win another Stanley soon.

Jonathan Willis has an excellent piece over at the EJ today, it really brings into focus the enormous push we’re seeing for the kid line. Dennis King has wondered recently (here and there) about breaking up that line, especially on the road where results are poor for the youngsters.

The 5×5/60 numbers show exactly where the offense ends:

  1. Ales Hemsky 3.75
  2. Ryan Smyth 3.43
  3. Jordan Eberle 2.40
  4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.99
  5. Taylor Hall 1.78
  6. Ryan Jones 1.65
  7. Shawn Horcoff 1.50
  8. Lennart Petrell 1.02
  9. Ben Eager 0.79
  10. Sam Gagner 0.67
  11. Anton Lander 0.49
  12. Magnus Paajarvi 0.42
  13. Eric Belanger 0.38

I included players all the way down to Horcoff, because considering zone start the job Smyth, Horcoff and Jones have been doing has been outstanding. I truly believe Smyth has been the MVP of this team and based on their performance as a team he should be getting more recognition nationally.

Belanger isn’t doing a lot offensively, I think the wise move in terms of line shuffling might look like this:

  1. Horcoff-Smyth-Hemsky
  2. RNH-Halll-Eberle
  3. Gagner-Jones-Paajarvi
  4. Belanger-Lander-Petrell

This moves Gagner to center, gets Paajarvi back into the lineup and possibly adds a third offensive line (although Jones is more of a complementary player).

Edmonton has about a 5% chance of winning tonight. Bruins aren’t all the way healthy but they are skilled, big, mean and Chara. The Oilers defenseman are going to be iced during and after the game.

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