Sunday, December 21, 2008

Beginning A New Phase Of The Season

Lots of new beginnings for the Bruins tonight in St. Louis:

Step Six - According to my 12-step season breakdown, the Bruins are wrapping up the first half of the season with a brutal holiday roadtrip. Tonight's game in St. Louis is a good warmup for tough games in New Jersey, Carolina and Pittsburgh before the New Year.

The post-Bergeron era - Not to jump to conclusions, but Patrice Bergeron's concussion in last night's game cast a shadow over any hopes that he would return to have a "normal" career. Even if this turns out to be a relatively minor injury, and he makes a quick comeback, it still drives home the reality that he can't play a fast-paced collision sport without serious risk of permanent damage to his grey matter. It's hard to imagine that, given the style of play that makes Bergeron effective, he won't continue to suffer concussions every few months, following a career arc similar to that of Brett Lindros. This would be an appropriate time to adjust any dreams of him growing into the mold of a 30-goal, 100-point player.

The Fernandez era - Manny will have his third start in four games, and his second in as many nights, breaking the simple rotation that had been standard over the past couple of weeks. For the time being, he has effectively usurped Tim Thomas as the #1. How long will he be the hot hand?

The injury bug - Up until recently, the Bruins had been one of the league's healthier teams. But like everyone else, they won't succeed without a little mid-season adversity. Aside from Bergeron, the Bruins look to be missing Marco Sturm and Andrew Ference for the long-term. Aaron Ward and Petteri Nokelainen will be out as well for tonight's game. So we get to see guys like Martin St. Pierre, Vladimir Sobotka and Matt Lashoff take their shot at a big-league career.

Adversity is tough to deal with, but it's a good thing in the long run. Let's see if this team's ready to fight through the sort of tough road games that are ubiquitous during the playoffs.

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