Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chicken Little Brigade

If Boston's spotty start wasn't enough to get the typical naysayers going in full force, events of the past week should ramp their cries up to full volume. Trading Kobasew for spare parts while announcing Lucic's impending absence would have been enough to bring out the boobirds but then to have Savard go down? Even otherwise sensible fans are joining the 'Chicken Little Brigade' and declaring the Bruins season over before it has even truly started! It honestly makes me hate being a Boston fan at times with the pervasive desire for instant gratification you see from so many supposed diehards.

Now I am not trying to say the loss of Savard and Lucic is nothing... it will definitely have an impact on the Bruins game. However, I choose to look at the positive aspects of this situation of which there are thankfully plenty.

1 - Timing
Would you rather the Bruins lost Savard in October or in March? Early in the year troubles can be overcome, often with relative ease... just look at the Penguins of last season. They were out of the playoffs in the 10-spot as late as February 28th! So why worry so about early points? The Bruins don't need to lead the Northeast from wire to wire again... they just have to stay in the running until they get back to full health. After all, playoff performance is all that should truly matter.

2 - Opportunities
Let the kids see the ice. Sobotka has been bouncing between Providence and Boston for two years now... its about time the Bruins find out what they really have in him. Is he an AHL all-star who can't cut it in the NHL as his performance would suggest thus far or is he a legit NHL player? No way of finding out until he sees regular icetime and now is as good a time as ever for that to happen. This also gives Boston an opportunity to get Brad Marchand some invaluable experience... in his debut last night he definitely looked like he belonged. Played with no fear or nerves for 15 minutes, including 1:45 on the PK and earned his first career assist. Very promising debut for Boston's 2006 third round selection.

3 - Motivation
With a player of Savard's caliber absent, the rest of the team knows it has to step up to fill that void. All 13 forwards on that roster now feel the need to up their game and help cover for Savard's lost production, none moreso than Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Bergeron has been looking more and more like the player Boston signed to a hefty contract in 2006 and has been one of Boston's best thus far. If Patrice can carry more of the load offensively and return to his 70-point game Boston becomes that much more dangerous a team.

4 - Financial
After the trade for Paille and Lucic's injury, Boston's daily cap hit fell $4.4K shy of the upper limit which prorates to $850K (Lucic's cap hit). In other words, Boston was right up to the cap and had little wiggle room. With Savard being replaced by Whitfield, Boston's daily cap hit falls $28,180 below the limit (Savard's daily pay) for a daily saving of ~$24K. If the roster remains static for the duration of Savard's time on LTIR, the Bruins will see the following savings against the cap:
30 days - $737K*
45 days - $1.093M*
60 days - $1.450M*

So before any more fans foolishly join the Chicken Little Brigade, maybe they should think about the potential long-term benefits from this situation. Boston will have additional cap space, more experienced depth players and stronger, more resilient personnel... all crucial elements for a long playoff run!

I should add, after seeing Paille play last night I am very pleased with the outcome of the Paille/Kobasew trades. It was Paille's hard-work and willingness to get dirty in the corners and behind the net that allowed Begin to score the game-winner last night. Boston improved draft picks while lowering their cap with minimal on-ice impact. Don't believe me? Then check out this objective analysis. Oh, and let's not forget that Chuckie was a UFA while Paille is an RFA.

*Note: This is based on my understanding of the LTIR's impact on cap space per the NHL's CBA. By no means should this be taken as being gospel truth.

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