In an effort to broaden my horizons, I intend on paying attention to the Boston Bruins this season. I have been a casual fan of the B’s for the last 3 three years. This season I hope to follow them a little more closely than I have in years past. Now I must preface my new found motivation to “cover” the Bruins with this: My experience in hockey is limited to going to support my high school and college teams, going to Providence Bruins games, working as the Chuck-a-Puck guy for the Manchester Monarchs, and watching playoff hockey. Yes, I will provide no actual insight to the game because I do not understand hockey strategy. I just know that the team that “lights the lamp” the most will win the game. So here we go.
After the Bruins made history for all the wrong reasons in last year’s playoffs, GM Peter Chiarelli and Cam Neely were silent. What happened in the quarterfinals against the Philadelphia Flyers is unspeakable and the Bruins will forever be associated with failure after losing 4 games in a row to a team that was using its backup goalies. Now that the past is off my chest and I feel better after that rant, we can look forward to the future of this team.
The Bruins landed the number 2 pick in the draft after trading Phil Kessel to the Toronto Maple Leafs for their 2010 pick. With that pick the Bruins selected Tyler Seguin, an 18 year old prodigy out of Canada. With that pick Bruins fans will have a short memory of the 2010 playoff debacle. Seguin will be relied upon to contribute to the Bruins feeble offense. Last year in the OHL Seguin tallied 106 points (48 goals, 58 assists). Seguin has been labeled as a can’t miss prospect and he will be in select company being a number 2 pick. Bobby Ryan, Drew Doughty, and Jordan Staal have been among the last few years number two picks. In the preseason head coach Claude Julien has put Seguin on the same line with Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron. Some have coined it the PPF line. Past, present, and future. All indications out of Boston are that they have been very impressive.
Another big acquisition for the Bruins this off season was trading for Nathan Horton, the number 3 pick of the Florida Panthers in 2003. Horton had 57 points last year (20 goals and 37 assists) on a weak line in Florida. In 3 seasons in the NHL Horton has scored 27, 22, and 20 goals. With him on the same line as a David Krejci, Marc Savard (if healthy), or Tyler Seguin it is entirely possible Horton can hit the back of the net 35 times or more. The aforementioned players are very good at creating for others and Horton has never had the benefit of playing with someone of that caliber or possessing those abilities. The offense was atrocious last year and that pressured goalies Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas to stand on their heads night in and night out. Horton will alleviate that pressure.
Speaking of goalies, this season Tuukka Rask will be expected to shoulder the load with Thomas spelling him. Many will fear a sophomore slump from Rask. He did seem to tire in the playoffs last season. Keeping Thomas will be important to the Bruins chances of staying competitive all season. Some people will be calling for Thomas to be traded. Because of his hefty contract, Thomas is virtually untradeable therefore the Bruins should embrace him. I look for them to start a new trend, much like what is going on in the NFL with running backs right now. Let the Bruins goalie situation be a “2 headed monster.” Let Rask and Thomas play in 40 games each. If one gets outrageously hot, ride them for that streak. Other than that balance the work load and stay healthy. When it comes playoff time go with who has given you the most confidence during the season.
Other things to watch for during the upcoming season:
Marc Savard’s health. A few outlets have reported he may be out for the season with post concussion syndrome. I find this to be a rather bold report. I personally would have like to see the Bruins deal him during the off season and keep Vlady Sobotka. But that wasn’t the case. If he is healthy, then the Bruins will have depth at center. If he isn’t then the Bruins will have an uphill battle this season.
Zdeno Chara’s contract situation. Chara enters the last season of his contract. Talks have started on an extension but they are yet to get serious. Chara is a game changer. He isn’t flashy. He just gets the job done and he is the best at what he does. The Bruins need to bring him back especially with a weak defense around him. If he leaves town, it spells trouble for the future of the organization.
How will Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, and David Krejci look after coming back from injuries that hampered (Lucic) or even took them out completely (Seidenberg, Krejci) of the playoffs last season?
With this being my first foray into the hockey world any comments or feedback would be appreciated!