It’s 6-1 as I type this- and there are still 20 minutes of hockey left at TD Garden.
On a night of sentimental nostalgia, the home team laid an egg. Again.
The Los Angeles Kings were in town and wearing their expansion-era gold and purple duds with the giant crown on the front- and Milan Lucic took center stage with his first game back in Boston without a spoked B on his chest.
The B’s took an early lead on Brad Marchand’s power play goal- his 25th marker of the season- and things were looking good until the less than 2 minutes remained in the opening frame. Bang, bang. A deflected Jeff Carter power play goal off the stick of Kevan Miller and then a Marian Gaborik backhander with the B’s in disarray (yep- Miller again but he wasn’t the only one at fault- it was Keystone Cops time) and just like that it was 2-1, Kings.
That opened the door for an ugly four-goal second period. Tuukka Rask (mercifully) got the hook after the Kings made it 5-1, but Jonas Gustavsson didn’t take long before allowing a sixth goal to Trevor Lewis to score the touchdown by the Rams, er- I mean- the Kings.
The Bruins just showed Don Sweeney and their fans that they are not a contender. Sure- they’re good enough to maybe scratch and claw their way to the playoffs, but when they go up against a real team- with skill and depth to match, they’re cooked.
I don’t have the answers, and neither, in all probability, does Boston’s management team. However- something needs to change. Whether it’s a tweak or something more- this club just doesn’t have it, so don’t just keep rolling the same lineup out every single night. Sometimes their hard work pays off, but the Kings just showed how far away they are from the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. If anyone out there was starting to dream about the Bruins maybe pulling together for an improbably deep run into the 2016 NHL postseason, then Lucic (1 assist with one period remaining) and his mates just threw a giant bucket of ice water on these hibernating B’s.
Everyone knows the Bruins need major help on defense, and here’s hoping they can get some and soon. Unfortunately for Sweeney, that everyone also includes all 29 other GMs. If we think landing a real difference-maker at that position is as simple as snapping the fingers and picking up the phone, my in-laws in Kansas have a real sweet parcel of oceanfront property to sell you. Every NHL team knows how much in dire straits the Bruins are defensively. And every time Sweeney picks up the phone to talk trade for a blue liner, the voice on the other end is gonna make it hurt.
There are things to be optimistic about in Bruins land, but this club is not built to win now. Whether they can win later will likely be determined by what the club does between now and the next 1-2 seasons.
Just a guess, but it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
P.S.- It was nice to see Lucic back and to watch the nice video tribute the Bruins put together for him. It’s a shame the team could not find a way to put forth a better showing, but sometimes, you have to call things like they are and realize that the 2015-16 Boston hockey team is not ready for primetime. Based on what is likely out there to be had between now and the end of the month, they’re not going to be in primetime anytime soon. The key is not to overreact and make shortsighted, short-term moves that will fritter away assets without appreciably improving the club for the long term.
That’s a lot easier said than done.
P.P.S.- 9-2 final score. Kings 9, Bruins 2. Putrid. Lucic scored his 13th of the year to make it 7-1, before Tyler Randell netted his fifth goal in just 21 games. Luke Schenn (that’s right- Luke freaking Schenn) and Dustin Brown closed out the scoring in a thrashing folks won’t soon forget.