|Notes and Observations Week 15: Patriots Blow Out Dolphins 41-13; Clinch AFC East||Connelly’s Top Ten: Patriots Defense, Special Teams Carry Home Team||Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 15||Right Idea? Red Sox Bring in Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson|
On Wednesday, we showed the first four things to watch for as the Bruins open camp. While the way the 2009-2010 Bruins season ended really stung, we are turning the page to a new era of Boston Bruins hockey. One way to get that started is with new talent, like Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. This brings us to our next four questions. Let’s play hockey!
In what turned out to be a rather quiet off-season in terms of player moves and free agency, really the only major move the front office pulled the trigger on was a deal that led to the B’s acquiring forwards Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell from Florida.
Horton, a 25-year-old winger that has scored 20 or more goals in all five of his full seasons in the NHL, projects to ride alongside Marc Savard on the team’s top forward line, with hopes that his scoring touch can help add some much needed firepower to what was a very lackluster offensive effort last season. Gregory Campbell, son of former league disciplinary guru Colin Campbell, comes to Boston after six seasons and 363 games playing for the Panthers. He won’t be a guy who will contribute a ton on the stat sheet, but he will likely fill the fourth line centerman void, left by the departure of veteran Steve Begin, on a line that could include wingers Daniel Paille and enforcer Shawn Thornton.
Captain Zdeno Chara returns for the fifth and final year of his mega-contract, anchoring what should be a very solid defensive unit for the Black and Gold. The B’s parted ways with the underperforming Dennis Wideman, sent south to Florida in the swap for Horton and Campbell. They did however retain Dennis Seidenberg, whom they first acquired at the trade deadline last March and re-signed in the off-season. Seidenberg, who made significant contributions in his brief time with the B’s last season before going down with a lacerated tendon in his left arm, will likely be paired with Chara on the team’s top D-line. Behind them, the team returns the likes of Mark Stuart, Johnny Boychuk, Matt Hunwick, and Andrew Ference, along with depth guys Adam McQuaid, Andrew Bodnarchuk, and Jeff Penner. It was one of the stingiest defenses in the league last year, and there’s no reason why they can’t repeat that feat this coming season, providing much needed help in front of the Rask-Thomas combo.
Ryder enters his third season with the B’s, the final year of his big 3-year, $12 million contract. His first year with Boston was a good one, leading him to 27 goals, a +28 plus/minus rating, and fans thinking he was a bargain. Then came year two. Ryder himself will admit that last season was a disappointing one, lighting the lamp just 18 times while playing in all 82 games. Ryder knows he’s on the hot seat as far as securing a spot on the team’s roster. Add to the fact that he’ll be playing for his next contract this season, and #73 has even more incentive to put up big numbers this season. Being paired with a now healthy David Krejci should help Ryder’s cause, with hopes that he can get off to a quick start this season, to solidify his spot with positive contributions from day one. If he falters again, it could be Ryder who takes the fall when Marco Sturm returns from injury, as someone will have to go in order to free up the roster spot and salary cap space necessary to fit Sturm back into the picture.
Honestly, not many. Sure the team has young talent, but because the roster is chock full of veterans eating up spots, barring any significant injuries early, or a pre-season trade that comes out of nowhere perhaps, odds are that Seguin will be the only rookie to begin the season in Boston. That being said, if the upcoming youngsters can live up to all the hype being thrown at them, the Baby B’s down in Providence should be a very entertaining and very successful team to watch. Former first round picks Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron lead the way in terms of prospective pro talent, with other NHL hopefuls including Jared Knight, Max Sauve, Jamie Arniel, and Yury Alexandrov. Behind Rask and Thomas on the goalie depth chart, you’ll find Nolan Schaefer, Adam Courchaine, Mike Hutchinson, and Matt Dalton, with Schaefer predicted to get most of the starting work for Providence.
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