Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Derek Morris through five games

As the Bruins close out their rare season-opening homestand with a meek 2-3 record, this week is sure to be rife with speculation and contrived finger-pointing. What better time to check in on that $3.3 million investment in Derek Morris... you know, the one that prevented the Kessel negotiations from getting off the ground...

Time on ice
Time on ice per game: 23:10, second behind Chara
PP time on ice per game: 5:06, second behind Savard
SH time on ice per game: 2:52, third behind Chara and Wideman

Clearly, Morris has had ample opportunity to make an impact on the ice. He has been paired mostly with Chara, arguably the best defensive partner in the league.

Offensive production
Goals: None.
Assists: 2. Both of Morris' assists were secondary, both were on the power play, and both were scored in the 7-2 rout of struggling Carolina.
Shots: 4. All shots came from a distance of at least 48 feet.

Hits: 7. This puts him in a tie for 129th leaguewide, along with guys like Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev.
Plus/Minus: A team-worst -4. He's also -1 on special teams, though these numbers don't count in his official +/-.

PIM: 8. Two minors and a double-minor. It was Morris' slashing penalty that led to Colorado's tie-breaking goal.
Giveaways: 3, tied for most on the team.
Takeaways: 1.

$3.3 million per season, in case you forgot.

Of course there are a lot of Bruins whose numbers look bad right now, but Morris has clearly not had a smooth landing in Boston. If he can't turn it around, this contract could end up being an albatross for Peter Chiarelli.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

As long as we're throwing money around...

How about a major contract extension for Shawn Thornton?

Shots taken in 2009-10
Bruins: 92
Thornton: 11
Krejci: 7
Lucic: 2

Goals scored in 2009-10
Bruins: 9
Thornton: 1
Krejci: 0
Lucic: 0

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What's wrong with Tim Thomas?

Absolutely nothing, that's what.

The media are already beginning to pick up on the too-easy storyline that Thomas is stumbling in the face of his Vezina trophy and bloated contract. He didn't look great in an opening-night loss to Washington, and was lit up for 6 goals last night against the Ducks. Clearly, they conclude, he's due for a letdown season.

This happens with pretty much every goalie who achieves some measure of success, and in some cases (*cough*Theodore*cough*) the scrutiny is warranted. But in this case the lens should be focussed on a soft, passive defensive corps which seems to miss the grit and tenacity of Aaron Ward and Shane Hnidy.

What matters most for Boston is that Thomas is still playing like a man desperate to extend his NHL career. He made big saves against Anaheim while the game was still a close contest. He became more active handling the puck when it was clear his teammates couldn't handle the Ducks' aggressive forecheck.

Saturday night we should expect wunderkind Tuukka Rask to face the Islanders, marking his first appearance as full-time backup. If he plays well, the media are going to declare a "goalie controversy". But our attention should instead be squarely on Matt Hunwick, who really will be playing to convice Claude Julien of his worth. If Hunwick continues to be bullied by opposing forwards, look for Julien to bench him in favor of the stouter Johnny Boychuck.

That change alone might solve Thomas' struggles.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

On Tobacco Road

I'm now fully landed in the Triangle area of North Carolina, just down the bend from the home of those red-clad bastards who bounced the Bruins last April. Regular posting will resume soon.

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