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Is it too soon to talk about the Bruins yet, or is the sting of last spring’s playoff collapse still too painful to overcome? Personally, as tough as it may be to do, I say we turn the page to the next chapter: the 2010-11 NHL season.
The B’s are off and running this month with their annual rookie training camp at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. The young up-and-comers will be featured at the TD Garden this coming Wednesday and Thursday evenings, as they take on the rookies from the New York Islanders in two games that will be open to the public. Later in the week, the team’s veterans will join the fray, if they haven’t already, as many of them took part in Zdeno Chara’s “captain’s practices” these past few days.
So with a new season fast approaching, it’s about time we take a skate around the roster and touch on a few topics worth watching as we inch closer to another entertaining NHL season. In honor of the newly appointed team president Cam Neely, I’ve decided to highlight eight questions (with the first four here, and another four pressing questions to be released on Thursday morning). Time to drop the puck…
Heading into last year, the Bruins were one of the “cool” picks for Stanley Cup contention, and looking at their roster heading into the season, there was plenty to be hopeful for. Someone unfortunately forgot to tell the offense though. The B’s scored a league-low 196 goals in the regular season, with underachievers up and down the roster. They did put together a nice run at the tail end of the season, enough to earn themselves a playoff spot and a first-round upset of division rival Buffalo. But that’s of course where their luck ran out, falling to the Flyers in four straight games in the second round, after building a 3-0 series lead over Philly.
So what can we expect of this year’s Bruins squad? I feel confident in saying that the 2010-11 B’s are still a playoff team, and I’ll go as far to say that they should win the Northeast Division. The Sabres will always be in the mix with Ryan Miller manning the crease, but Ottawa and Montreal are definitely a step behind Boston in terms of talent, and Toronto is still a few seasons away from completing their rebuilding process. So a Stanley Cup buzz might not be humming around the B’s heading into the year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have high expectations for this team heading into the season.
GM Peter Chiarelli has said that the rookie phenom will have to earn his roster spot with the big boys, but really, can you picture the Bruins going into the season with Seguin’s talents wasting away in the minors? Seguin will be an NHLer from the outset, you can pretty much put that in ink, but how will the B’s use Seguin up front? Boston’s roster is already very solid up the middle, with Marc Savard, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron likely to man the center dot on the first three forward lines. The alternative will be to give Seguin the opportunity to fly on the wing of one of the top two forward lines. Pair him with a playmaker like Marc Savard, and there’s no doubt Seguin could light the lamp 20-30 times this season: he’s that good. I’m expecting big things from Seguin right from the start… he hasn’t given anyone any reason not to.
From as early as before the NHL entry draft, both Tim Thomas and Marc Savard trade rumors were running rampant around the league. Both veterans are signed well into the future, and both come with a hefty salary cap hit. But after an entire off-season of rumors, no deal came to fruition, leaving both men still on the Opening Day roster. Both players realize that this stuff is all just part of the business that comes with professional sports, but look for both players to come out of the gates with an added chip on their shoulder, looking to prove to naysayers that they belong on this team, and that they’re worth every penny of their lofty pay checks. Savard is coming back healthy after a season marred with bumps and bruises, but Thomas will have to prove he is back to top form after hip surgery this past off-season. The former Vezina Trophy winner expects to be 100% ready for the start of the regular season, where he will likely act as backup to incumbent starter, Tuukka Rask.
It’s hard to find a Bruin on the roster that didn’t have to fight through injury last season. Only two players, wingers Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder, appeared in every regular season game. David Krejci, who had surgery to repair a dislocated right wrist that he suffered in the playoff series with the Flyers, should return to form by the season opener. Milan Lucic, who also went under the knife over the summer, having a procedure done to repair an ailing left ankle, is aiming to come back strong as well. With a productive training camp, the hard-nosed winger should also be on track to be 100% ready for the regular season, although some reports indicate his progress is off to a bit of a slow start.
Marco Sturm, however, will not be ready for the beginning of the season. Sturm is trying to come back from a major knee injury he suffered late last season, an injury that will likely sideline him until at least mid-November. Turning that negative into a positive however, because Sturm will begin the season on long-term injured reserve, the Bruins will be able to exceed the league’s salary cap by Sturm’s $3.5 million annual salary, until Sturm is able to return.
Tags: Andrew Ference, Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Daniel Paille, David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Gregory Campbell, Joe Colborne, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Caron, Marc Savard, Marco Sturm, Mark Stuart, Matt Hunwick, Michael Ryder, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Shawn Thornton, TD Garden, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara