I’m never one to pity Boston as a sports city.
These guys have everything. Three Super Bowl wins and five appearances since 2001; three World Series wins since 2004; a 2008 NBA championship and Finals appearance in 2010; and, of course, a Bruins Stanley Cup win in 2011 and trip to the final in 2013. ENOUGH ALREADY. WE GET IT. YOU’RE GOOD AT SPORTS. LEARN TO SHARE.
It’s a strange feeling, then, to watch the Boston Bruins this spring and realize they actually need something for a change. They’ve failed to score more than twice on Carey Price in three of their last four games. The reason: this team doesn’t have a game-breaking goal scorer anymore.
It’s nothing against what Boston does have. Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Lou Eriksson, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla (at this stage of his career) are capable 20-30 goal men with a penchant for clutch goals. They can get hot on any night, too. But The Bruins don’t have a deadly offensive weapon who makes the other team hold its collective breath in overtime. Chicago has Patrick Kane, Anaheim has Corey Perry, Los Angeles has Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik, Minnesota has Zach Parise, Montreal has Thomas Vanek, and the Penguins have you-know-who. The Rangers lack the a reliable sniper, too, and that could be their undoing in these playoffs.
It’s hard not to think of Tyler Seguin right now. The Bruins got a good return in last summer’s trade with Dallas, as Reilly Smith has been a revelation and Eriksson improved as the season progressed. But, as I noted the day GM Peter Chiarelli made the trade, the Bruins surrendered the highest-ceiling player in the deal. The reason: Seguin partied too much as a 21-year-old millionaire, a.k.a. blinked and breathed. His off-ice ways were a headache, and his game lacked consistency at times, but that was relatively normal at that stage of his career. With his speed, size and release, he always projected as an elite scorer, a franchise player capable of exploding on any given night.
One season later, Seguin finished fourth in league scoring. His banner season included a four-goal game, three hat tricks and six multi-goal performances. Nobody batted an eyelash, except maybe Chiarelli. Seguin was always supposed to do this. That’s why Boston drafted him second overall in 2010.
The Bruins didn’t want to deal with a short-term problem to reap a long-term reward. It’s a shame because talents like Seguin don’t come around that often. It’s been 11 years since a Bruin scored as many goals as Seguin’s 37 this season.
You can teach an elite talent to be a disciplined athlete – remember Randy Moss, Bostonians? – but you can’t turn a hard worker into a pure goal scorer. Too bad for the Bruins, because they sure could use one for Game 7 against the Habs.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin