Boston Bruins Season Preview

Boston Bruins Season Preview


Acquisitions
RW Nathan Horton, acquired in trade with Panthers
C Gregory Campbell, acquired in trade with Panthers

Departures
D Dennis Wideman, traded to Panthers
C Vladimir Sabotka, traded to Blues
RW Miroslav Satan, released to free agency
C Steve Begin, not re-signed

The Bruins were among one of the NHL’s biggest disappointments in the regular season and one of the biggest surprises in the playoffs. After shocking the Sabres in the first round, they were eliminated by the Flyers in one of the biggest playoff collapses in NHL history. With that behind them, the Bruins look to fix their mistakes and GM Peter Chiarelli helped address some of their problems by trading for a goal scorer in Nathan Horton. This may not be enough, though since the injury bug has already hit the B’s and the season hasn’t even started. The Bruins managed to get into the post-season with a couple players missing but just getting there isn’t going to be enough for Boston this year.

Boston’s biggest trouble last year was scoring goals. They averaged a league worst 2.39 goals per game last season and their powerplay was only 16.6% effective. Marco Sturm was the only player on the team to reach 20 goals and he’s beginning the year on injured reserve. Also beginning the year on the IR is Marc Savard after suffering post-concussion syndrome and he could be out for the entire season. That spells a lot of trouble for a team that already has trouble producing offense. They will receive some help in the form of Nathan Horton who gives the Bruins just what they needed; a pure goal scorer. He has scored 20 or more goals every year since entering the NHL and will be surrounded by more talent this time so he could have a career year on this team. Also stepping up is going to be rookie Tyler Seguin who was pretty much guaranteed a roster spot after the Savard injury. Seguin is capable of playing both wing and center so the Bruins have a lot of options with him. It’s unsure of which line he will play on, though. The two are looking like a lot better options than Miroslav Satan to give this team an offensive spark.

These two are nice additons but there were a lot of forwards who underachieved last year, the most notable ones being Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Michael Ryder. Krejci’s season was especially disappointing since it was after the Bruins extended his contract and he saw his point total decrease by 21. Lucic battled injuries all season while Ryder looked lost most of the time. These three will be counted on to do a lot more for the B’s in 2010. More will be expected out of Blake Wheeler, too but he had a solid season last year despite his point total decreasing from his rookie year. Two forwards that have remained consistent in their roles are Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. Both will have to take roles as the leaders of the team this year, too. Recchi is 42 and was brought back for another season. He is still a very capable player and contributes well on the powerplay.

There’s been some change with the bottom-six of the Bruins, but it’s constructed similarly to the unit they had last year. Steve Begin is out as the fourth line center and Gregory Campbell is in. Campbell is a better defensive player than Begin which makes him a slight upgrade. They also have two very good enforcers in Brian McGrattan and Shawn Thornton. There’s plenty of younger players who are looking to make the lineup as well. One of which being Jordan Caron who has been impressing the Bruins staff in training camp. If he keeps it up, he might see a significant amount of time with this team due to the Strum injury. Same can be said for Brad Marchand.

On defense, the only significant loss was Dennis Wideman and Bruins fans had no problem watching him leave after his terrible season last year. No one was brought in to replace him but they did re-sign Dennis Seidenberg who should be effective if he can stay healthy for the whole year. Aside from that, it’s mostly the same as last year. The Bruins defensive corps was one of the most solid in the league last year even with Wideman’s blunders so I have to think it will be even better.  They need to see a better version of Zdeno Chara, though. He looked like he lost a step last season after he won the Norris Trophy the previous year. The rest of the defense looks mostly the same as last year. I’m expecting Matt Hunwick to improve a lot, though. You can also expect rookie Matt Bartowski to see some time in Boston sometime later in the year.

Goaltending is another big strength for the Bruins with Tuukka Rask coming off a stellar rookie season. The starting job is clearly his to start the year but Tim Thomas will be getting some spot starts to give Rask a breather. Thomas, a former Veznia Trophy winner, lost the job to Rask after playing horrible last year. He is hoping to reclaim his starting job but the chances of that happening are highly unlikely.

The Bruins look like a better team than last year on almost all stages and I have to think expectations are very high in Beantown. Their offense is upgraded, but the injuries to Savard and Sturm might cause them to get to a slow start. Bergeron will have to step up as the #1 center but his job is easier now that he’s playing with Horton on his wing. If Rask can avoid a sophomore slump then I think the Bruins will be in great shape going into this season.

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