Saturday, March 7, 2009

What To Do With Axelsson?

Prior to Thursday's game I suggested that it's time for Claude Julien take Axelsson out of the lineup -- Douglas Flynn of the New England Hockey Journal picks up that same tune in yesterday's article.

"This is not a call to see the end of Axelsson’s days as a Bruin, just a suggestion that his name should not be automatically penciled into the lineup every night, especially against more physical opponents where some added size up front could come in handy."

The Bruins shouldn't be callous toward P.J., who has been a pretty loyal and classy player through some of the organization's darkest times. But with as much class and dignity as possible, it's time to start rotating him out of the lineup if he's not going to produce at least as many goals this season as guys like Stuart and Hnidy.

Over the past several games, the Bruins have been pushed around by teams like the Ducks and Flyers. And even when they are physically aggressive, as they were in out-hitting the Coyotes 31-10, the Bruins are still having trouble creating traffic in the crease and -- most importantly -- burying rebounds and deflections.

Byron Bitz is 4 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Axelsson, and despite his low skill set he's a better goal-scorer because he does a lot of dirty work in front of the net. More importantly, he's got great chemistry with Thornton and Bitz on the 4th line. Even in the Bruins' worst games this season, the grinders have generally pulled their weight and frequently create offensive chances off the forecheck.

With all due respect to P.J. -- and I don't mean that to be a cliche', he really does deserve the respect of the organization -- it's time for him to become a utility backup rather than a nightly contributor.

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