SOME will call it a hangover. Some will say, “heavy is the crown.” Some will say, “it is a long season.” Others will say, “seriously, fuck those guys.” Wait, why would anyone say that? This is a franchise that went almost 30 years without a title. Didn’t we all celebrate their triumphant return to the winners’ circle? Well, yes, some of us did. Others of us lined up four shots of whiskey like ducks in preparation for listening to Boston sports fans declare themselves the “Greatest Sports City in History!“ It took no less than two hours for that headline to appear, but by the time it did, this lucky sports writer was already several sheets to the wind, possibly urinating in a flower pot somewhere, while a continent away, Vancouver burnt to the ground.
So, why would any reasonable sports fan be happy for the absolute travesty that is affecting Boston right now? Why would anyone cheer the decline of a seemingly likable sports franchise like the Bruins? Well, you must understand two things: 1. I am by no means a reasonable sports fan. 2. Boston has become everything they hated a little over a decade ago. They have gone from the lovable underdogs to the insufferable, entitled brats.
Now before Boston sports fans crucify me, I would like to qualify all of this by saying, “it is not too late. You aren’t at Yankees fan status. You aren’t even Lakers fans yet. You can right the ship!” I am aware that just being compared to those franchises probably caused you to die a little, but let me not split hairs, that was the desired effect. Boston, you’ve forgotten what made your sports franchises likable to begin with: humility, work ethic, and an ever-present certainty that things will go terribly wrong, no matter how great things look now. You received a taste of this with the epic Boston Red Sox meltdown at the end of this MLB season. However, you reacted to it far unlike what I used to expect from Boston fans. Instead of walking away, getting shitfaced, and claiming you saw it coming all season, you whined. You complained.You drove out of town the guy who got you your first championship since the Woodrow
Wilson administration (and then he DID IT A SECOND TIME.) You acted not as the pre-2004 BoSox fans, just grateful to have a halfway decent team. Instead, you acted as though overpaying Carl Crawford and putting guys like John “Has to Be Pitching Underhand” Lackey on the mound entitled you to greatness. Pre-2004 Red Sox, pre-Tom Brady, pre-Big Three Celtics, Pre-2010-2011 Bruins, fans would never have done this. This is why I relish watching the Boston Bruins suck it up big time. It isn’t because I’m bitter, or angry at Boston sports fans. This is for your own good. Consider this your “challenging-your-old-man-to-a-boxing-match-and-still-getting-your-ass-whooped” moment. You are learning your place again. We liked you better as an underdog. We liked cheering for you when you went up against the overpaid and much much more talented Yankees. We liked seeing you show the Showtime Lakers that sometimes grit can outlast flash. And hell, we even sort of liked the fact that your quarterback had a woman’s haircut. But we can’t cheer for you if you’re going to be a smug prick about it. So, just as that black eye from your pops taught you humility, so will this year in Boston sports.
Now that we got that out of the way, what is wrong with the Bruins right now?
With the loss to the Canes last night (their first win of the season, mind you), the Bruins now sit at the bottom of the Northeast division with a 1 – 3 – 0 record. Hardly something a team can’t come back from, but not the start we expected from a team that hoisted the cup only a few months ago. So then, what ails the champs? It’s pretty obvious. Tim Thomas continues to be very Tim Thomas-like, less than a year after adding the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy to his mantle. Along with Rask, the team is 3rd in the league in goals allowed. Well, then how are they not better? They are 23rd in goals scored — their offense has completely dried up. They are also 1 for 18 on Power Play opportunities. Just as a point of reference, that is only one more power play goal than the Columbus Blue Jackets or the What the Hell is Icing writing staff (though, we may tie them; Joe Tichy has a mean knuckle puck.) Lucky for them, their penalty kill percentage is extremely high, only allowing two power play goals in their four games. Essentially, Thomas/Rask have thrown this team on their shoulders and even then, they have only been able to muster up one win. Even with Krecji out, that doesn’t explain the first two losses of the season. The offense (which was already suspect) has been nothing short of shitty this season. Either the front line needs to start picking it up, or Tim Thomas is going to have to start figuring out a way to score from his own net, since it seems like he is the only guy showing up to games.
Call it a hangover, call it a slow start, call it whatever you want. The real truth of the matter is this: it IS a long season and the Bruins ARE a good team. Just as we discover year after year, teams that are thought to be good going into the season, tend to be good by the end of the season. Things will normalize and the Bruins will be right back in the playoff chase. That is the difference between a good team and a terrible team. A terrible team will have a bad run and fold it up for the season. A good team will bounce back and counter a crappy run with a winning streak. Just you watch, as much as I would love to see Boston fans eat dirt twice in a season (which I still might get since the Patriots pass rush couldn’t fluster a junior varsity cheer squad,) I am well aware the Bruins will return to form very shortly here.