Cam Neely: Our Physical Players Aren't Playing 'As Physical As They Have In Past'
While the goal-scoring and the power-play success have been a bit streaky over the past seven or so seasons in Boston, the one constant with the Bruins has always been a physical, grinding style of play. Team president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli have said time and time again that they want to acquire people who "play a heavy game" and are, quite simply, "hard to play against."
It's a simple enough request, asking players to put in the effort that is required to lay hits and impose their presence on opponents, but according to Neely, that element has been lacking a bit this season.
"We lost a couple of guys that were more on the physical side, and some of the guys that I like to see play physical, for whatever reason maybe haven't played as physical as they have in the past," Neely said Thursday on Felger & Massarotti.
It's clear that Neely is referencing the loss of Johnny Boychuk, who never hesitated to lower the boom whenever possible on the ice, as well as winger Jarome Iginla. As to who on the current roster he's suggesting have taken a step back in the physical department, it's up for debate. But if you look at the roster, the group of "heavy" players would likely be considered to consist of Milan Lucic, Dennis Seidenberg, Kevan Miller (injured), Zdeno Chara and Adam McQuaid. But from top to bottom, Neely might be dissatisfied with the overall lack of physicality on the roster.
Neely said it's not his style -- nor is it in his job description -- to go into the locker room and give rah-rah speeches. Instead, Neely said that he uses road trips as an opportunity to speak to players about what's going on with their game.
"For me, it's to understand a little bit of what they're going through and using some of the things that I've learned now that I'm not playing and trying to share that information and experience with them," Neely explained.
Of course, the Bruins aren't in their current situation simply because they are lacking a physical presence.
"We're having problems getting some offense going, that's the big thing. Our power play isn't clicking at the appropriate time when we could get back into a game or get ourselves a lead. But for me it's been the offense that's been struggling," Neely said. "We seem to have to work very hard for our production. In this game, you've got to get inside the dots to score goals, you've got to make it difficult for goaltenders to see pucks, and we could probably have done a better job in that regard."
Given that the Bruins are currently outside the playoff picture, Neely didn't try to sugarcoat it.
"I don't like where we're at. I really don't. I can say that about pretty much everybody here, especially our fans. It's been a frustrating year," Neely said. "We come off a good regular season last year, we didn't have the playoffs that we wanted. … We had more of an expectation for this year. It's just been a challenging season."
Neely also discussed David Krejci's spot at right wing, whether members of the organization are worried about losing their jobs, and more. Listen below:
for more features.