Big bad Boston Bruins ready to win trophies this year signing new players

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It’s hockey season again in the Hub. The big bad Bruins are ready to come out of hibernation following a short summer that followed a Stanley Cup finals defeat that would have brought Boston its second Stanley Cup in three years.

The offseason for the Bruins brought some change to the Bruins roster, but the core pieces are still in place.

Front office management kicked things off with the tough decision of sending 21-year-old Tyler Seguin and winger Rich Peverly to the Western Conference Dallas Stars. In return, the Bruins gained a top 6 forward in Loui Eriksson, along with three other promising players which include Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith, and Matt Frasier.

This was a controversial trade in the eyes of Bruins fans, with Seguin being the second overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft. Seguin was a small contributor to the Bruins cup in 2011, but never quite seemed to reach the expectations the front office had for him. Along with his off-ice antics and un-willingness to play physical, the Bruins and GM Peter Chirelli opted for the more reliable; defense first Eriksson to fill his role.

Bruins fans will be quite pleased with Eriksson’s play. He is a two-way player who is valuable on the penalty kill, comparable to Patrice Bergeron. Eriksson averages around 25-30 goals, and will give you 40-plus assists. He is most valuable for the things that don’t show up on the score sheet such as getting back to help the defense or winning puck battles.

Another move that the Bruins made in the offseason was the addition of veteran forward Jarome Iginla. Iginla was halfway into a Boston sweater at the trade deadline last season, but at the last moment opted to go to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bruins fans should not hold a grudge against Iginla as he is one of the most talented and respected players that have touched the ice in the past 15 years. His presence on the bench and locker room will just bolster an already leadership packed Bruins roster.

With the addition of Iginla came the subtraction of popular Bruin forward, Nathan Horton. Horton was a free agent and decided to end his years in Boston and sign a seven-year deal with the now Eastern Conference Columbus Blue Jackets.

Many wonder why Horton would not resign with the more talented Bruins roster, but none the less he is gone and Iginla will be filling in his role.

With the emergence of young defenseman such as Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and Matt Bartkowski, the Bruins could not afford to keep on veteran defenseman, and assistant captain, Andrew Ference. Ference was a beloved figure in the city of Boston, always giving back to the community and getting involved in one of his passions; recycling. Ference signed on with his hometown Edmonton Oilers and prestigiously named captain.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

Bruins fans should not expect a drop off in play even with the departures of some key players. Seguin and Horton will be replaced with Eriksson and Iginla, two very capable parts.

Depth is strength for the Bruins, possibly having the deepest bench and prospects in all of the NHL. This year’s first line will be the assembly of David Krejci at center, with Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla at the wings. The second line will be centered by Selke Trophy winning, assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. His wingers will be Brad Marchand, and previously mentioned Loui Eriksson. The Bruin’s fourth line will continue to be one of the best in the NHL, which we all know includes Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, and Shawn Thornton. This line has proved to give the Bruins that spark of energy when needed, and the pairing of Campbell and Paille on the power play is a recipe for short-handed goals.

This brings me to the biggest story of this year’s offseason; the third line.

With Rich Peverly gone along with Jarmoir Jagr, two wing spots have opened around assistant captain Chris Kelly.

Swedish winger Carl Soderberg was claimed by the Bruins late last season in a controversial signing that almost left the now Bruin in the Swiss league. Only having sight in one eye, Soderberg was a contributor late last season and into the playoffs, and should be a regular on Boston’s third line.

This last wing spot has been a moving carousel this pre-season. From the looks of it the spot belongs to former first round pick Jordan Caron. Caron has shown flashes of solid play at the NHL level in the past, but has always been pushed to the side with players like Benoit Polluiot, Chris Bourque, and Jagr coming in. This year the spot is open for him and it is time to step up. If Caron does not show that he is NHL ready, it might be seeing the last of him in a Bruins sweater.

Defense has always been a staple of the Boston Bruins and has been even more implemented with the installation of Clude Julien as coach. Since Julien has taken the reigns, the B’s have had an extremely impressive penalty kill, and are at the top of the league in plus/minus as a team. This was one of the reasons players such as Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin were shipped out of Boston; they could not play his style.

Now, Julien has a core of players who have bought into his Bruins brand of hockey, which has proved to be successful in the past five seasons.

Headlining the defenseman are Captain Zdeno Chara, and Dennis Seidenberg.  Bruins fans could not ask for a better top two pairing. Both players are extremely physical and play a ton of minutes per game. Seidenberg is a shot blocking specialist, while Chara may be the most physically intimidating player to ever play this game.

The drop off to the second defense pairing is not as steep as most NHL clubs. Johnny Boychuk and Dougie Hamilton will be a solid second group for this team. Boychuk has emerged as a star in these past few seasons and Dougie is an offensive weapon at the point. With Boychuk’s bomb of a shot and Hamilton’s offensive awareness, this should be a contributing second set of d-men.

The final pairing brings  Adam McQuaid, and Torey Krug. McQuaid has been with the Bruins for some time now and brings hard-nosed, glove-dropping ability on the blue line.

Krug on the other hand is a finesse defenseman who knows how to get his hands dirty along the boards, and let’s not forget all those goals he scored in last year’s playoffs.

And finally, goaltending.

Expect Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask to continue to be extremely impressive between the pipes. Last year he regained his job as the number one tender for the B’s and lead them to a Stanley Cup birth. Tukkaa is one of the most poised and calm goalies in the net and his hybrid butterfly style is much more comforting to watch then the flopping around of past goalie Tim Thomas. Rask will be a strong contender for a Vezina Trophy this year with extremely talented defensive players in front of him. Bruin’s fans have coined the phrase “two u’s, two k’s, two points.”

With the realignment this year and the new hybrid icing rule in place, this should be one of the most entertaining seasons the NHL has had in years.

Last year the Bruin’s Blackhawks Cup battle was the highest rated final ever. I expect those numbers to increase this year, with a very possible re-match looming.

If you’re a Bruins fan, you should be excited about this year’s team, and the future of the team. The season opens up at the TD Garden on October 3, versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Let’s drop the puck already.

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