Jeremy Jacobs has every right to expect his team to make the playoffs this season. The Bruins had more than enough talent to do it last year, and while we're at it, the year before as well. That they failed to do so was not so much a function of talent as it was a lack of toughness (mental and physical) and a coaching staff unable to get the best out of the team when it was needed most.
For two years running the Bruins have been above the playoff line by near-double digits in March, only to finish with the worst record in hockey down the stretch and miss the postseason by a couple of points. Jacobs has every right to expect them to recoup those points this season and give him some playoff revenue for the first time in three years. Fans can only hope that a failure to do so this time will finally result in some meaningful changes, from coach Claude Julien on up.
So I'm with Jacobs on this point.
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But the B's owner also said something during media day on Tuesday that I think is, frankly, nuts.
``I expect that we’ll go deep into the playoffs,'' he said. ``I think this is a very good mix of young and older, experienced players. I’m looking forward to their going into the playoff season.”
Deep? As in winning a couple of rounds?
Sorry, but that's not a realistic expectation. It's actually kind of delusional. Yes, anything can happen in hockey, but to win playoff series you need to be skilled and sturdy on defense -- and the B's are anything but.
It's one thing to outwork opponents in the regular season and use your top-end forward talent (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Backes is a pretty good group) to outclass the bottom-dwellers en route to a playoff berth. It's another thing entirely to defeat good teams in seven-game series when the effort levels and schedules even out.
The Bruins, as currently constituted, are not built to do this. Jacobs expects them to win multiple playoff rounds with a first defensive pairing of Zedeno Chara and… who? Colin Miller? A second pairing of John-Michael Liles and… who? Adam McQuaid? Kevan Miller? Yikes.
Chara has declined to the point where he's probably no longer a top pairing guy on a good team. Here's he's still the No. 1. Liles is a spare part on most teams. Here he's probably the B's second-best guy. That's putrid. The rest are all best suited to third-pairing duty. Do they expect Torey Krug to log top-4 minutes in the playoffs? Sorry, not sturdy enough. Can Colin Miller emerge? Maybe, but that's a big ask. I'm all for looking at kids like Brandon Carlo and Rob O'Gara, but unless they are very, very special, young defensemen usually aren't factors in the postseason.
So to sum up, the Bruins' group of top-four defensemen might be among the worst in the league, and below that are a bunch of kids who aren't ready to log the minutes required to go deep in the postseason. If the B's pull off a trade for a legit top-end guy at some point this year, then the equation changes. But as currently constructed, it's just not good enough.
Again, between the forward group, goalie Tuukka Rask and a coach who is allegedly one of the best in the league, Jacobs has a right to ask for a 95-point regular season and a playoff berth.
But anything more than that? Please.