In the Boston Bruins 5-1 defeat against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins looked more like a team on the verge of quiting on its season than a team on the cusp of making any serious Stanley Cup run.
While it can easily be argued the Bruins could turn it around when a number of their best players return from injury, it's tough to justify even an at best a fifth or sixth seed in the playoffs. A legitimate run this season would probably require a legitimate 50 goalscorer, somebody to take all the eyes off of Bruin magician Marc Savard up front.
This puts the 2009-2010 Bruins between a rock and a hard place. Do they sell out for a cup run now, trading away key draft picks and players that could be of more use in the future, or do they make the tough choice to call it a day on a season that had tremendous expectations?
Trading could cost them players like Tuukka Rask, star prospects Joe Colburn, Zach Hamill, Yuri Alexandrov, and Brad Marchand as well as a package of picks that could include pieces like the potential top-five overall selection of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Such is a fate I can't stomach when looking at the pitiful performances the club has mustered over the last 10 games. As a wise man once said "Never chase bad money with good." I think that applies best here.
Peter Chiarelli's biggest successes have come so far with taking a long term approach in building the team, using high-leadership veterans to gel the locker room with developing prospects.
If his previous modus operandi is to hold true, the most palatable option would be to write off the season as a near-lost cause and look to trim the fat across the roster.
The question becomes, who should we be looking to move at the deadline this season?
First and foremost, veteran Mark Recchi could be offloaded to a contending team in need of experience. The forward has slid down Claude Julien's depth chart as of late but has still managed to provide nine goals and 18 assists in 51 games this season.
Despite his success and surprising dependability, the Bruins should be very wary of him providing it again next season.
Andrew Ference, a solid No. 3-4 defensemen, has been on and off the IR in his career, that's been no different in Beantown. Ference is a good leader, and a dependable guy to have in your foxhole, but he's never going to quarterback anybody's power play.
His value to a team with a weakness at defense would be pretty alluring.
Steve Begin, a solid penalty kill member, has been everything he was advertised to be, but guys like him are a dime a dozen, and if a playoff team is willing to part with a fifth or sixth rounder, I'd take it.
Tim Thomas has been better than his record this season, but even so, at 35, now may be the time to pull the trigger on a potential deal. His value is never going to be higher, and great goaltenders are difficult to find anywhere.
While I'm not sold on Tukka Rask being rushed behind the pipes so soon, he could manage at least the rest of the season, and the potential value could be worth it. With that said, I'm not sure I'd have the stones to pull the trigger, and I have a hunch Chiarelli doesn't either.
Dennis Wideman has always been on my get out list. He can't play any defense at all and has routinely forced Chara to over extend himself of the defensive end to compensate.
To make matters worse, he has been having a terrible time in the offensive zone. He's been, by far, the Bruins biggest problem in 2010, and if I could get a team to take his salary for a couple of low-value picks, I'd pull the trigger in a millisecond.
Milan Lucic has attained cult status in the NHL. His ability to crush fools who wander into his neck of the ice has made him a valued prospect. At 21, he could develop more of a scoring touch later in his career.
However, I don't think it's going to happen, if Chiarelli feels the same way, now would be the best time to grab what you could for Lucic, a man you owe $12 million to for the next three seasons. The potential you could net would be fairly sizable, especially to a team in need of his skills (see LA).
What becomes of the Boston Bruins over the next three months will likely determine the outcome franchises course over the next five years. For this fan, here's hoping they get it right.