exculpateEK-skuhl-payt, ek-SKUHL-payt\ ; transitive verb: To clear from alleged fault or guilt; to prove to be guiltless; to relieve of blame; to acquit.
With apologies to dictionary.com, it seems ironic that exculpate was the chosen word of the day, for, at this very moment, I am trying to figure out where exactly the blame lies for the Boston Bruins' 2-3 start to the 2009-10 season.
We are just a mere five games into the season tilt, and while it is too early to go into a full-blown panic, I'll keep this to a mini-rant.
Just a few concerns that come right to mind...
Goal Scorers Hibernating
Last season they were back with an explosive offense, a stingy defense, and hitting at every chance. So far, not so much. As of this moment, having played that fifth game, the Bruins have scored 15 goals, minus Savard's goal in the shootout win vs. the Islanders.
Of the 15 goals, seven have come against the Carolina Hurricanes, the only game the Bruins have looked in sync in so far. In the three losses, they have been outscored 14-5.
In the two wins, they have a slighter advantage, with a 10-5 lead in goals, and that also includes the 7-2 victory.
The Big, Bad Bruins?
And what about the hitting? The one glaring notice is that the Bruins are not the same physical team they were last season. Currently, Milan Lucic leads the team in hits with 13, and as just an observation, Alexander Ovechkin (who has also played five games) is second in the NHL with 20 hits to his credit.
The PP and the PK have both been deplorable at best, and special teams play overall has been a nightmare, as evidenced by the short handed goal scored by the Avalanche this afternoon.
Those who take stock in the plus/minus category must be going crazy at this point, as only one of the Bruins' top five D-men have a positive rating. Mark Stuart is a plus-four, while new addition Derek Morris is struggling with a minus-four.
Did Tim Thomas suddenly forget how to stop a puck?
Thomas has now given up 12 goals in three games; not what we would expect from the reigning Vezina Trophy winner.
Rask has given up seven goals in two games, and it's too early to judge whether he's overrated, overvalued, or is the victim or the horrid defense played in front of him.
Perhaps the Bruins are not used to the early homestand, as they usually open the season with a long West Coast road trip that allows them to gel. Luckily for them, they play four of the next five on the road, with a chance to correct these issues, and get on the right track. Otherwise, this mini-rant might become a full-blown meltdown.