Crisis Averted: How the Bruins' Latest Speed Bump Will Help The Team

Wayne WhittakerCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2009

After a tough week, the battered Boston Bruins head into the All-Star break tied with the San Jose Sharks for first place in the NHL.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the Bruins performances as of late have been lackluster. Barely squeaking out a win against the 26th-place Toronto Maple Leafs, and losing to the 25th-place St. Louis Blues in a game that Boston had won with two seconds left.

So, should we run for the Panic button? Not yet. There is a reasonable explanation for this little slump.


Patrice Bergeron, Marco Sturm, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, and Andrew Ference are all out of the lineup for Boston; with Aaron Ward just rejoining the team after re-aggravated a leg injury.

We all know Sturm won't be back this year, but Boston should see the return of Bergeron, Lucic, and Ference soon after the All-Star break.

As for the B's leading scorer, Kessel's already missed one week with mono, and is expected to miss at least three more.

Captain Zdeno Chara shed some insight after Wednesday's game, “It’s that time of the year that you’re going to face some adversity, some challenges.”

Adversity is something that Claude Julien's Bruins are used to. After losing Bergeron early last year, the resilient Bruins marched into the playoffs and pushed the first seed Montreal Canadiens to the brink of elimination before losing in game seven.

B's Bounce Back

After losing back-to-back games for the second time this month, the Bruins were looking at a third straight loss while heading into the third period against a Maple Leafs team that outplayed the B's heavily in the first two periods.

But Dennis Wideman and Zdeno Chara helped tie the game up before Michael Ryder gave the Bruins the win in dramatic fashion with a shootout goal.

"We just lost the last couple of games, and we wanted to make sure we felt good about ourselves heading into the break,” Coach Julien said when asked about the importance of the win last night.

Injuries have taken a toll, and while the Providence call-ups have helped patch up some of the wear-and-tear, it's become quite obvious that while minor league depth is a great quick fix, there's no replacement for a healthy roster.

With six days off between games, there's a good chance many key players will return to action. And just in time.

The next four games are all intense match-ups against playoff-caliber hockey clubs.

The Bruins will look for this season's first win against Alex Ovechkin's Washington Capitals next Tuesday. Their sights then turn to the red-hot New Jersey Devils.

Follow that up with weekend match-ups against the New York Rangers and those hated Habs of Montreal, and you couldn't ask for a better time for a rest.

There's no sense in worrying just yet. Soak it in Boston; the Bruins are in first place. This has been a great season so far, and the results speak for themselves. Add in a few more healthy players, and there's no reason to think the B's won't finish the season just as powerfully as they dominated the first half.