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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Playoff Push

Bruins GM Mike O’Connell is in a bit of a quandary. With his team hanging onto the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, O’Connell must decide within the next week whether he should bolster the roster by making a trade or two.

The Bruins have plummeted to earth since their sky-high beginning to the season. Injuries have not made the slide any easier (Sergei Samsonov, Rob Zamuner, Sean O’Donnell have all been on the shelf for significant time), but the team’s problems go deeper than that (lack of depth, lack of skill, lack of identity). If O’Connell has any aspirations of making a run deep into the playoffs, then he must not only make a couple of significant swaps, but he must keep some of the few prospects the organization has.

Chances are O’Connell won’t do anything earth shaking, but my guess is that a move will be made, if not just for the sake of making a move. The team needs serious help on the blueline, with O’Donnell’s and teammate Hal Gill’s health both in question. The lack of solid play by the defenseman has not helped starter Jeff Hackett, who hasn’t exactly been stellar since his arrival here a little over a month ago.

Not to be ignored is the offense. After their first line of Joe Thornton, Glen Murray, and Mike Knuble, the forward depth drops off dramatically. Five million dollar man Martin Lapointe continues to disappoint, while center Josef Stumpel’s play remains inconsistent. The team has a constant shuttle going up and down 95 between the Fleetcenter and its minor league affiliate Providence, but that has failed to produce any meaningful impact.

Although no sports organization likes to miss the playoff, O’Connell could take another road and send the few proven veterans the team has to other teams with playoff hopes in exchange for young blood. However, that seems unlikely, since a defeatist attitude like that would not play well with the fanbase. Ticket sales are not as high as they used to be, and such a course by the management might have a serious negative effect on potential fans and attendees of Bruins games.

Connected to the issue of trading deadlines moves is the future of Bruins coach Robbie Ftorek. Talk has surfaced that the local Ftorek might be given the boot any day now. If Ftorek goes, who would take hold of the reins? Some speculate that O’Connell would actually be behind the bench for the rest of the season. It would be unfortunate if Ftorek is made to be the scapegoat, because he has not been given A material to work with, yet the management expects him to produce wins.

The immediate future does not look extremely rosy for the B’s. If the status-quo approach to filling roster remains in place, then the team will remain mired in mediocrity. Since the ownership purse strings are tight, blossoming or established talent will likely continue hit the road in search of more favorable contracts (think Bill Guerin).

O’Connell does not have the luxury of sitting on his hands and letting the trading deadline pass by. It is imperative that he do something, even if the trade adds very little to the makeup of the team. If not, then the negative image that the Bruins have will continue to grow and make fans even more miserable than they already are.