With all of the hoopla that took place prior to the NHL season, it is hard to imagine that we have only two weeks left in the regular season.
The Boston Bruins have seven games remaining in their 2013 campaign and the table is set for them to catch momentum to carry into the playoffs.
However, trying to catch that momentum is beginning to look like a daunting task for the Black and Gold. Sure, the Bruins sit in second place in the Northeast Division and trail the Montreal Canadiens by only one point. For any other city, the fans would be more than happy and content with the position that their hometown team is in right now.
This is not any other sporting town. This is Boston.
Since we live in Beantown, we are that much harder on our teams and the Bruins are no different. The B’s are coming off of back-to-back losses heading into their game Wednesday night against the Buffalo Sabres. The team seems to be losing their rhythm, but certain players have lost their game weeks ago.
Two players that come to mind are Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, Boston’s top-line wingers.
Even though Lucic recorded a goal in Saturday night’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, that was only his second goal in 26 games and only his sixth goal of the season. He does lead the team with 122 hits, but he also leads the team with 35 giveaways. He needs to take better care of the puck and start using his size to help his line be more productive.
Lucic is set to become the highest-paid forward on the Bruins roster starting next season when he will make around $6 million per year. Having only cracked the 30-goal threshold once in his career, the hard-nosed left winger will need to start earning that contract as soon as possible.
On the other hand, the question mark with Horton has become his lack of physicality. He ranks tied for 10th on the team in hits with 35. The player who he is tied with is Daniel Paille, a player who normally skates on the bottom two lines. That also comes with significantly less minutes during five-on-five situations, so the fact that Horton is tied with him, with all due respect to Paille, is kind of disappointing.
Horton, who has 13 goals on the year, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. By his standards, this is not the way he would have liked to have played in a contract year. His health has no longer become a question, which is a good sign. The Bruins will have an interesting decision to make with Horton come this offseason.
Their play as of late has been worthy of criticism because they will not see a decrease of ice time or a line demotion. On the other hand, Tyler Seguin, who is second on the team in goals with 15, gets demoted to the third line and will see limited minutes on the power play. Seguin leads the Bruins with 132 shots on goal. Shooting the puck is something that you want your top-line wingers to do. This particular issue falls on the coach rather than the players.
Although all of this could be an overreaction, the Bruins should use the remaining games left on their schedule to get back into form just in time for the playoffs. For all we know, that could be exactly what they are waiting for.