Sturm looking to get off schnide
|11.01.08 at 10:44 am ET|
One gets the feeling that changes are impending when a hockey coach says his team is “soft on the puck”, and that’s exactly what seems to be in store for the B’s tonight. Speedy Bruins winger Marco Sturm and centerman Patrice Bergeron have been broken apart, andthe streaky Sturm was paired with cerebral center David Krejci and rookie winger Blake Wheeler on the third line.
Sturm has only one single goal and four assists in the team’s first 11 games and hasn’t been nearly enough of an offensive force for a team that’s languishing in the lowest third of the NHL in terms of scoring — the B’s are 21st overall in the NHL with 2.64 goals per game. One year ago today, Sturm had 4 goals and 6 assists in the B’s first 10 games and was much closer to the player that potted 27 goals in each of the last two seasons and has been a work of German ingenuity on the man advantage. He did later go on to have an 11 game stretch in late November/early December without notching a lamp-lighter, and likely dipped into some of the bad habits and soft play that’s currently causing his offensive game to sag.
In coach Claude Julien’s estimation, Sturm hasn’t been fully involved physically and shown his typical steely determination over the first 11 games of the season and that’s played out statistically in his last handful of hockey contests. The 30-year-old from Dingolfing, Germany did register six shots against Edmonton in 15:51 of ice time on the first night of the Western Canada road swing, but mustered a pitiful grand total of one shot on goal in the games against Calgary, Vancouver and Atlanta. Sturm averaged close to 18 minutes of ice time through the first seven games of the season, but that’s been slashed by 2-3 minutes during his last spell of puck struggle.
What can Sturm do to get out of his funk?
“Everything,” said Julien. “He needs to get involved more. When he’s determined and when he’s involved, he wins races, he wins battles and when he’s determined he can play a physical game. That’s the thing that right now has to improve, his whole involvement. Once he gets that figured out and on track, the goals will follow.
“There’s some guys right now that still can be much better, besides [Sturm], there’s a few more,” added Julien. “Those are things that, in a way, you can only imagine how good they can be if we get all our guys playing the way they can. I guess this is a challenge that coaches have every year, trying to get everybody going.”
Sturm himself seems to understand this little bit of puck wisdom and when the 6-foot, 194-pound winger has both the speed and power packed together in a tight hockey bundle, he can be a handful in the offensive zone. He was saying all the right things in the pre-game skate prior to the game, and perhaps a pairing with the playmaking Krejci can fire up the spark inside of him and bring the unique post-goal “Sturm face” back to the Black and Gold lexicon.
“I’m just trying to get more pucks to the net and go to the net more,” said the struggling Sturm. “That’s where thing usually happen. It might have to be an ugly one — that first one — so I’ve just got to keep it simple, go to the net more and just get some stuff done around the net.
“Of course it’s in your head to try to do better and score more,” added Sturm. “That’s just the way it is. You’ve got to work at it and hopefully you get one or two and things start to open up.”
It’s pretty easy to catch a glimpse of what Sturm looks like when he’s playing with the proper mixture of grit and skill, and all it takes is a simple youtube search for Marco Sturm and Game 6 — or better yet let Pucks with Haggs do it for you.