The question is a simple one in theory, but the more you think about it, the more complex it becomes:
Does the Boston Bruins philosophy work for you?
Think about that for a moment. Take away the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship. Take away the playoff exit to Carolina, Philadelphia and Washington. Don’t let emotions get in the way of your critical thinking. Erase any emotional and/or physical attachment you have to this group (or previous groups) of Boston Bruins and look at the actual philosophy behind the way the roster is constructed and how the team plays. Let’s start with how they built their team on the ice.
Under Claude Julien, the Bruins have become a more defensive-oriented team. They built this roster from the goalie outward and it is even more evident now looking at the injuries to guys like Marc Savard and Nathan Horton. Lately (and I mean this from 2006-present) Boston has not been afraid to throw large sacks of money at defensemen (Chara) or even potentially “overpay” defenseman (Ference [and lets be honest, when he signed his extension people were upset], Boychuk)
The statistics speak for themselves, especially Goals Against Per Game.
There’s a pattern of relative consistency when talking about the defense, especially in the last four season. The Bruins are known for their defensive abilities because of guys like Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, but their forwards also do a fantastic job at playing their position defensively. Guys like Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand do a good job of play two way hockey.
But does it come at a cost offensively?
Most would say yes and the Bruins Goals Score Per Game would indicate that you would be right:
While the offense for the Bruins has been good the past few seasons, overall it hasn’t been very impressive. It took career years from guys like Chris Kelly (career year in goals, assists and point in 2011-2012 [and still only ended up with 39 points]), Beniot Pouliot (career best in goals and points), David Krejci (career best in goals) [as well as Marchand and Seguin, though they are only in their second year] so can that be counted on again to repeat?
Boston loves to roll out four lines and Claude will do that to death. Michael Felger always says that Claude and the Merlot Line [Paille, Campbell and Thornton for those not in the know] out for Fribbles after games because he loves them so much, but it’s true. In theory, it’s a good strategy to have an energy line that you trust, though it’s bitten Boston in the ass and I think that’s happened the most when it comes to contracts.
After the jump, contracts and stuff like that...
The Bruins have made a multitude of re-signings and extensions this past season (and subsequent offseason). Most recently, Boston re-signed Chris Kelly to a 4 year, $12M deal ($3M per year) and Greg Campbell to a 3 year $4.8M contract (1.6M per year). These re-signings also include Dan Paille (3 year, $3.6M) and extensions to Shawn Thornton, David Krejci, Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk. Basically, Peter Chiarelli has re-signed the entire roster from the 2011-2012 season (withstanding of course is Beniot Pouliot and Tuukka Rask. Joe Corvo has already been shown what dumpster he can live in)
The reason I include these contracts isn’t so much because of the amount that is carried with them, but what they represent. The Bruins have stuck by their status quo of signing guys who are reliable on the defensive side of the ice and leave big question marks on the offensive side. Outside of Tyler Seguin, the Bruins do not have a reliable goal scorer who can net 30+ goals consistently. Milan Lucic did it in 2010-2011. No one did it in 2011-2012.
But does that matter?
Is six 20 goal scorers better than one 40 goal scorer, 3 twenty goal scorers and a bunch of teens? The argument can be made that having a consistent scoring threat like Parise or Nash (even though Nash is only a consistent decline) could be beneficial for the Bruins because it means that teams would have to plan for Parise and Seguin and one of them would abuse whichever second defensive pairing they played against.
Does the Bruins philosophy of building from the net out work for you? Some teams don’t put a hard stance on goal tending, but have goal scorers who can light the lamp 30-40 times a season. Some teams have incredible goal tending, but struggle to score goals. Some have both and some have none.
If you were Peter Chiarelli, what would your philosophy be when it comes to putting a hockey club together? Is he doing a good job? Is he doing the right thing?