When Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli comes out and sounds like a pundit vilifying his team’s offense, then you know the Bruins are in dire straits when it comes to scoring goals.
“You’re not going to win a heck of a lot of games scoring two goals a game,” Chiarelli conceded during a conference call Monday to discuss his team’s upcoming playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And the Bruins haven’t won many games by scoring just two goals of late. They went 2-5-2 down the stretch and exceeded two goals just once, on an empty-net goal. They’re averaging just 2.65 goals per game and their power play ranks 26th in the NHL. This is a team that needs scoring, and Chiarelli knows that.
“And the finishing off, you’ve heard me say this before a number of times, you’ve got to get to those areas, those traffic areas, you’ve got to get those dirty goals and you’ve got to hit the net,” the GM said. “So we haven’t been doing that with the frequency that I would like.”
The return of Nathan Horton, who missed the last five games of the regular season with an upper-body injury, would help the Bruins. Chiarelli said he would expect Horton to play in the playoffs, but did not reveal a target date for the power forward’s re-emergence. Better focus from Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin would also aid the cause.
When Horton comes back, the Bruins will have a decision to make. As of coach Claude Julien’s pregame briefing from Sunday, it sounded like Carl Soderberg would be the odd-man out.
“I think he needs a little bit of time,” Julien said. “Unfortunately, with him getting here so late, he’s going to need a little more time to adjust.
“But one thing I can tell you is he’s a quick learner and he’s smart individual. He’s caught on pretty quick. I think right now it’s about feeling more confident in this environment, the smaller ice surface and everything else. He’ll come around. I see good things from him.”
Of course, as a best-of-seven series unfolds, things change. And injury or ineffectiveness could force Julien’s hand. Depending on how things go, Rich Peverley and Shawn Thornton could also be scratch options later in the series.
Regardless of personnel, the Bruins should still have enough players capable of putting at least three goals on the board against a Toronto team that ranked 17th in goals against at 2.67 per game. Last year, the Bruins scored just 16 goals in 7 games against Washington, a repeat of that output will almost definitely result in a repeat of that series’ final outcome.