Maybe one of the most curious teams in the league next year, the Boston Bruins are the next team to get the Rink Royalty Treatment. We will get a chance to see these Boston bad boys a couple times, first on November 20th in Boston, and then they return the visit on January 24th. Since they’re in the other (weaker) conference, the games won’t have quite the impact on the playoff race that games against teams like Anaheim, Detroit and San Jose likely will, but in all likelihood they’ll be action packed, enjoyable games for the fans. So what do we have to look forward to?
The Boston Bruins play some seriously schizophrenic hockey. Sometimes they are hot like crazy. They’ve got some serious talent, but sometimes they go through long stretches of just godawful play. Anyone remember (and how could we forget) the series collapse against the Flyers in the playoffs last season? Seriously. Dropping a 3-0 series lead against a team that is just not that great… well… it speaks volumes.
Marc Savard, Zdeno Chara, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin
The Boston offense is sketchy, and hard to predict. On the one hand, they’ve got some serious high end talent with Savard, Bergeron, and newly added Tyler Seguin. Seguin, selected second overall in this years draft is an almost sure thing to make the team, and likely will start the season as the 2nd line winger. He’s got amazing skills, and will be an impact player in the NHL, but the question is how quickly. If he can turn in an impressive Calder-quality season, the offense could be something to reckon with. If he struggles a la Stamkos in his rookie season, the offense will look more like last year, than 2009. Savard’s health is pretty vital to this quest as well. If he’s healthy, they’ve got an engine that can help generate offense. If not… there’s not enough depth to compensate. Nathan Horton’s escape from Florida will renew the expectations, though I’m not convinced he lives up to them.
The defense is equally thin. Again maintaining the high level of elite talent, they’ve got monster Zdeno Chara patrolling the blue line, and he’s obviously not short on talent (or size for that matter). As a former Norris Trophy winner, Chara certainly can play at a high level, the problem comes after top 1.5 (or so) pairings. Mark Stuart isn’t setting the world on fire, nor is Denis Seidenberg. Andrew Ference isn’t awful, but none of these are players that are real threats from the blue line, nor are they world-class shut down defenseman. Nonetheless, they should be sufficient to get the job done. The problem again is with depth. If they lose one or two to injury (and god forbid if it’s Chara), they’re in the shit. In goal they’re actually pretty set. If Tuukka Rask plays to the level of last season, he’s very capable. If he falters, they’ve got a Vezina winner backing him up. Not a bad pairing to have…
The Bruins are a tough nut to crack. They could put it all together and return to the top of the heap in the East. My guess however, is that with some injuries they’ll struggle to gel, but will manage to retain their division. I see the Bruins as the #3 seed in the East, with a fairly quick exit in the playoffs (though they might sneak through round 1 in the weak-sauce Eastern Conference.