Thank the good lord (go ahead... we'll wait) that the Kovalchuk drama is finally over. Now we can move on to the pwnage we all shall be experiencing this Winter... well... those that are lucky enough to be reading these previews anyway. Today we analyze the Boston Bruins.
Or as I like to call'em, the Boo-Boos.
|The Big Man in Beantown will once again be the catalyst for Bruins Success|
Previous Year's Team Stats
39 wins, 30 losses, 13 OTL, 91 points, 14th overall in the league.
To coin a completely original literary phrase, it's been the best of times and it's been the worst of times in Boston. The Bruins are arguably one of the best teams in the league on paper. However the Bruins are coming into the season on the heels one of the most epic choke jobs since the lock-out surrounded with serious questions about the integrity and core of the team. The Bruins will struggle to live up to their talent level and put the doubts to rest.
The Bruins boast one of the most dynamic forward corps in the league. The Bruins are rivaled only by the Penguins down the middle and have talent on both wings all the way down the depth chart. The buzz in Beantown this off-season has been about the acquisition of two forwards. Nathan Horton was brought in this off-season in trade that saw defenseman Dennis Wideman go the other way to Florida. Horton has arguably one of the best talent packages in the league and will have talented line-mates for the first time in his professional career. Look for Horton to have a career year if he can stay healthy. Boston will also receive a boost this season from 2nd overall draft pick Tyler Seguin. There's still some conjecture on where Seguin will play in Bruins line-up if even makes the team, but it's good money right now that he'll be somewhere in the top nine. Down the middle the Bruins offer perhaps the best playmaker in the league Marc Savard. Savard's career over the last six months has been the hockey equivalent to a roller coaster. From being the de facto offensive man in Boston, to sustaining the most dramatic injury since the Bertuzzi incident, to scoring a huge emotional overtime goal, to being the subject of massive trade rumors this off-season, Marc Savard has had it rough. However look for him to score another point per game campaign in Boston this season. Backing up Savard is talented Czech play-maker David Krejci. Krejci had an inconsistent campaign last season compare to his break out performance two seasons ago due to injury troubles and inconsistent line-mates. However with a clean bill of health and better line-mates look for Krejci to regain form this season. The Bruins also have Team Canada's shutdown center and supremely talented Patrice Bergeron as their toolbox player. On the wings the Bruins have 100 year old cyborg Mark Recchi who will no doubt ride shotgun with Seguin through much of the year. Left Winger and Boston folk hero Milan Lucic will look to improve on his injury plagued and largely disappointing season. Scorer Blake Wheeler, German Marco Strum, and boat anchor Michael Ryder will also look to slot into the top nine winger spots.
The Boston Bruins are blessed to have former Norris trophy winner and perhaps the best defenseman in the world Zdeno Chara patrolling their bluelines. Chara is an absolutely fantasy hockey god and perhaps the best physical speciman to ever step onto NHL ice. Chara will put up another strong 40 point campaign while logging close to 30 minutes a night on the Bruins back-end. Joining him this season will be criminally under-rated Dennis Seidenberg who was acquired in a laughable trade with the Hurricanes last season. Seidenberg can play in all zones and will be on both Bruins special units while logging a significant amount of even strength ice time. Another under-rated defenseman on Boston's back-end is Andrew Ference who's the B's shutdown defenseman. The Bruins have a dramatically better record (28-16-7) with Ference in the line-up than without (11-14-6) him. Behind Ference is Johnny Boychuk who had solid debut last season and was considered by Sports Illustrated to be one of the five best free agent pick-ups. Boychuk will be a solid number four defenseman and will look to break the 20 point plateau in Boston this season. Boychuk also has the potential be a fantasy sleeper and this year's Andy Greene, if he gets time on the Bruins first power-play unit. Defensive-defenseman Mark Stuart and young defenseman Matt Hunwick will look to round out the Bruins defense.
The Bruins have the best goalie duo in the NHL. Tuukka Rask stole the starter's job from reigning Vezina winner Tim Thomas last season. Rask's performance launched his name into top five goalie debates. Boston will look for Rask to maintain his momentum and soldify his position as the Bruins number one. Tim Thomas has had perhaps the most up and down career of any NHLer in the modern era. From bouncing around the European leagues, to being the back-up in Boston, to winning the Vezina, to losing his job the very next season to young upstart Rask. Look for Thomas to get at least 35 games and play for long stretches if Rask's game hits a road bump at any time this season.
With the Bruins adding offensive punch and their young players being another year older, one would have to think they're the favorites in the NorthEast Division this season. However this team's destiny and questions don't lie in the regular season. One would think they'll improve from last season into being a top ten team in the league. However the question is will this team be able to standup to the pressure down the stretch and in the spring?
BVB Projected Opening Night Line-Up
Marc Savard - 23 G/60 A 83 P
Nathan Horton - 40 G/35 A 75 P
Milan Lucic - 25 G/30 A 55 P
David Krejci - 20 G/40 A 60 P
Blake Wheeler - 20 G/20 A 40 P
Michael Ryder - 23 G/20 A 43 P
Patrice Bergeron - 15 G/40 A 55 P
Marc Recchi - 15 G/20 35 P
Tyler Seguin - 20 G/20 40 P
Daniel Palle - 12 G/10 A 22 P
Gregory Campbell - 3 G/10 A 13 P
Shawn Thornton - 1 G/5 A 6 P
Marco Strum - 15 G/15 A 30 P
Zdeno Chara - 10 G/40 A 50 P
Dennis Seidenberg - 6 G/30 A 36 P
Johnny Boychuk - 7 G/20 A 27 P
Matt Hunwick - 5 G/9 A 14 P
Mark Stuart - 3 G/8 A 11 P
Andrew Ference - 0 G/7 A 7 P
Tuukka Rask - 33-20-6 | 2.25 GAA | .925 Sv%
Tim Thomas - 13-7-3 | 2.55 GAA | .915 Sv%