Time to break out my bold predictions for the Bruins 2013 season. I think it's safe to say I'm feeling optimistic.
1) Number of regular season wins – 30
OVER – 33 WINS: I’ve got a good feeling about this year’s Bruins team. I think they are an extremely strong all around team and I do think the fact that they had more players playing overseas during the lockout will give them an edge in terms of conditioning. My only concern about this team is between the pipes, and whether or not Tuukka will remain healthy and play at a high level. If he is able to stay on the ice and plays as skillfully as he has in the past, I predict they finish in as one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
2) Number of points for Seguin – 40
OVER: 42 POINTS: This is going to be Seguin’s breakout year, and the year he establishes himself as an elite player in the NHL. Coming off a red-hot offensive stint in Switzerland, I think Seguin leads the Bruins in goals and total points for a second season in a row and exceeds the 40 point mark.
3) Number of games Tim Thomas plays 0.5
UNDER: Not only do I not think Thomas will play a game for the Bruins this year, I think he has seen his last game ever as Boston’s net minder. Bruin’s execs can pitch the suspension as “non-adversarial” all they want, but I sense that the divide between Thomas and the organization runs pretty deep. He told the team he wants to play next year, but didn't specify for what team. I think this is a clear cut indication that after his Faith, Friends, and Family interlude, Thomas will suit up for another team or hang his skates up for good.
4) Goals for Marchand – 15
OVER:16 GOALS: I think Marchand exceeds this total. Together, he and Seguin are going to own this season like it’s a bar top at Foxwoods.
5) Number of games played by Rask- 30
UNDER- 28 games: As I have said, Tuukka’s durability is
the one major concern I have about this team. I have a bad feeling he will not remain healthy for the entirety of the year. The fact that he is struggling with groin issues strengthens my concerns. That is a tough injury to have as a goaltender, and one that is easily tweaked. We have already heard reports that he had the groin flare up again during his time in the Czech Republic. I think Tuukka’s durability and injury issues have the potential to derail the Bruin’s season, especially if Anton Khudobin does not prove to be a solid back up. Regardless, I think the Bruins make the playoffs this year as a top seed. Hopefully the Bruins can manage Tuukka’s playing time during the regular season in a way that sends him into the playoffs at maximum strength.
6) Number of Rask shutouts –7
UNDER- 4 shut outs: Once again, Tuukka’s health issues and streaky history are my main concerns here, and I’m going to say he doesn't exceed 30 games played or 7 shut outs. Prove me wrong Tuukka!
7) Horton goals –10
UNDER- 7 goals: One of the best stories of the Bruin’s preseason is the return of Nathan Horton to the ice. Unfortunately due to the severity of his concussion and the nature of these increasingly serious injuries, I don’t think he will play anywhere near a full season. Unprecedented precaution is being taken across all sports dealing with head injuries, and in a sport characterized by high speeds and violent collisions; I think the probability of Horton staying on the ice for the majority of the season is low. I am a huge Horton fan and have been since they acquired him. This is one where I truly hope I am wrong. 8) Fights for Thornton – 7
OVER- 11 fights: Thornton is a total savage and he’s definitely pissed he has had to wait this long to get back on the ice at the Garden. He’s going to be jacked up from the opening whistle and ready to beat some people’s faces in. He’s a fourth line bruiser who’s primary role is enforcer. I see no reason why he won’t take that role and run with it. I say he fights this Saturday at the Rangers just to show everyone he hasn't lost a step.
9) Number of games played by Dougie Hamilton- 20
OVER- 21 games: The 19 year old Hamilton is the future of the Bruin’s defense and this is the year they break him in alongside the Chara and the rest of the team’s veterans. Peter Chiarelli recently likened him to a combination of Rob Blake and Larry Robinson, and hopes are generally high for Dougie as we head into the shorted season. Hamilton’s development should make for an interesting story line to follow.