The Bruins depth and number of returning skaters should allow them to coast to a Northeast title
After finishing first in the division last year with a 10
point lead over Ottawa is there any chance the Bruins fail to repeat as Northeast
Besides a slot up for grabs on the left wing of the third
line and a new pair of defenseman at the end of the bench the Bruins skaters
will look identical to last year.
Assuming Claude doesn’t get cute and try to mix things up off the get go
the lines should look like this:
First off is the Marchand, Bergy and Seguin line. After
playing together last year this line combined for 186 points and combined plus
minus rating of +101. This line will shine for the B’s this year and should produce
the most points out of any line.
Next is the Luch, Krejci and Horty line. Arguably the best
second line in Hockey these guys will contribute just as much if not more than
the top line.
The third line will feature center Chris Kelly and right
winger Rich Peverley. The vacant slot on the left wing will be up for grabs
during the pre-season and could be shuffled throughout the year. Everybody
seems to be rooting for Chris Bourque because of his familiar last name but the
26 year old Boston native lacks NHL experience and production. In Bourque’s
five years in the Pros he’s only appeared in 33 games and has registered only 4
points (1 goal and 3 assists). With Jordan Coran sidelined with an “upper body
injury” I think Danny Paille will start the year with the third line. His hustle
and NHL experience as well as his familiarity with the team should make it
easier for him to earn the spot in training camp. Also look for youngsters Lane
Macdermid the 6’3 lanky 23 year old and Justin Florek who clocks in at 6’4 200 pounds
to get a shot at playing left-wing for the B’s this year.
The fourth line will continue to grind out shifts and bang
bodies like they did last year. The left
wing position will likely rotate early in the season due to the hole in the
third line but the core of Greg Cambell and Shawn Thornton will remain intact.
The two veterans have played in nearly 1000 NHL games combined and continue to
give the Bruins high energy shifts that allow them to rest the top 2 lines and
keep them fresh for the third period.
The Bruins top two defensive pairings will remain the same
as last year and I couldn't be more excited about them.
Chara and Boychuck will be the starters at the point. Skill,
toughness and blistering slap shots will make these two defenseman one of the
best pairs in the game. They combined for 67 points last year and will continue
to contribute offensively as well as defensively this year.
Veterans Andrew Ference, 33 and Dennis Seidenburg, 31 will
be the second line defensive pairing for the B’s. These guys spent last year
playing beside each other and look comfortable on the blue line together.
Neither of them brings a strong offensive presence but their brut toughness and
ability to moves guys around in front of the net make them a solid set of
defenders that can get the job done for the black and gold.
Adam McQuaid is on the shelf until February. This opens up
roster spots for the Bruins 5th and 6th defensemen. It
appears the 19 years old Dougie Hamilton is ready for the big leagues and will
get a shot with the team. The hype over Dougie has been huge since they drafted
him 9th overall in the 2011 draft. Dougie is 6’5 200 pounds and
brings almost as much offense to the table as he does defense. Last year with
the Niagra Ice Dogs of the OHL Dougie put up outstanding offensive numbers. In
50 games he scored 17 goals, had 55 assists and was +37. I wouldn’t be
surprised to see Hamilton paired up with Seidenburg on the second line of
defense within a couple weeks of the season starting. Matt Bartowski will also
be in the mix for the 6th spot. The 5th year player had
22 points in 50 games for the Baby Bruins last year and will look to get some
work with with the big club this year.
Tuukka Tuukka Tuukka. This is it. This is what we have all
been waiting for. Can Tuukka Rask carry this team to the cup? I think he’s
ready to become a number 1 starter and he thinks so too. If Rask can transform
back into the brilliant goal tender we saw in 2010 he will be very successful this
year. Tuukka has a great team in front of him and should emerge as an elite
puck stopper in the NHL.
That being said the Bruins should have no problem winning
the division and locking up at least a 3 seed in the post-season. The only
thing that could really screw this up is a Tuukka Rask groin pull/tear followed
by a Nathan Horton concussion and a slew of other injuries. If the Bruins stay
healthy they are a lock for the Northeast title and will be a legitimate
contender for the Stanley Cup.