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Bruins 2010-2011 Preview: Forwards

With some new faces and hopefully a healthy lineup, the Bruins forwards should be able to climb atop the NHL's elite offenses this season.

When it comes to what will fuel the Bruins this season, look no further than the forwards. Regarded as one of the worst offensive teams in the league last year, the Bruins hope to find their way back into the elite group of offensive teams in the NHL. Two years ago, the Bruins had one of the most exciting groups of players as they all had break out years in terms of scoring. They then took a step back, as players saw career-lows in scoring last year.

Now, with everyone hopefully healthy and ready to play, the Bruins should regain that scoring touch and be a team to contend. All they have to rely on are these forwards…

David Krejci

Coming into this season, the one player that needs to prove me wrong has to be David Krejci. I have written this guy off more than any other Bruins’ player and why not? He showed so much promise two years ago, only to break people’s hearts last season. Two years ago he had 22 goals and 51 assists in only his second full regular season. He played in all 82 games that year and compiled a +37 rating.

Last season he made me mad. He was supposed to be this promising young center (now is 24 years old) who would carry the team in Marc Savard’s absence, but instead he disappeared beyond belief. He had 17 goals and 35 assists last year for a total of 52 points. He played in 79 games and ended up with a +8 rating. So with a year of experience, he drops 21 points while shooting the puck 10 more times and lowers his rating 29 points. Now prove me wrong, but shouldn’t he have improved more last year on what he started in 2008-09?

Maybe I want him to be better than he actually is but when he first came into the league all I heard was great things about him and how he can score in bunches. Well two years ago I was impressed, but not at all last season. So this year, I really am looking for him to produce even more, or maybe I won’t expect anything and he’ll give me everything. I hope he gives me the latter on that one.

For production, I am hoping that he scores 24 goals, dishes out close to 50 assists and brings his rating back up into the +30’s. Even if he is battling Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin for playing time, he better produce when he has the opportunity.

Nathan Horton

This kid is someone who I am really looking forward to seeing this up-coming season. He played in Florida last season and like everyone knows, you never hear anything about players on the Panthers so a lot of people from Boston probably don’t know too much about him. He came over this summer along with Gregory Campbell in the trade that sent Dennis Wideman to Florida along with the Bruin’s No. 15 overall pick in this year’s draft.

Horton is still young, as he is only 25 years old, but he has been in the league for six seasons so far. He was originally drafted No. 3 overall by the Panthers in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he has put up 295 points in 422 games in his NHL career. His best season came in 2006-07 when he scored 31 goals, had 31 assists and had a +15 rating. Since then he has also been steady, registering at least 45 points in each of the years following. He has only scored fewer than 20 goals once, and that was his rookie season.

He comes to the Bruins, figuring to be either the first or second line right winger. I fully anticipate him starting on the first line alongside either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci at center, and Milan Lucic on the left side. Horton is also fairly big as he stands at 6-foot-2 and weighs in around 230 pounds, so he isn’t a small guy by any means.

I look for him to put together a solid season with around 25 goals, 35 assists and a rating of +10. Although the Bruins No. 15 pick could’ve been someone good, I think in the trade we got someone even better in Horton. Heading into the prime of his career, he has all the tools to really make an impression on this group.

Milan Lucic

He’s back. Finally. After being injured for a lot of last season, Milan Lucic is healthy and ready to start playing again. He missed 32 games last season due to a broken finger and a sprained ankle. His finger was what caused him to miss most of the time and caused him to not be as productive on the ice.

He, like Krejci, had a breakout season in 2008-09, in which he scored 17 goals and had 25 assists, to add to his title of being an enforcer on the ice. Since he was known for his knockout punches and laying down the big hit, it was an added bonus that he actually knew how to score.

Last season was not nice to Lucic and heading into this season, I am sure he will look to get back into the swing of things. He scored only nine goals and had 11 assists last year, but was still able to rack up 141 hits. Not only did his scoring ability help while he was on the ice, but by being physical with the other team he helped the Bruins stay motivated and really got the crowd into each and every game.

For this season, I expect him to put up a solid 15 goals, dish out 25 assists and have about 250 hits. Hopefully him and newly acquired Brian McGrattan can scare the hell out of the opposing teams, making them not want to even mess with the Bruins.

Patrice Bergeron

Another player whom I fully expect to have a big year is Patrice Bergeron. With Marc Savard still out, Bergeron becomes the leader on offense. While most of the team had a sub-par season last year, Bergeron went out and had himself a very solid year. He posted 19 goals, 33 assists and a +6 rating in 73 games. They weren’t the best numbers of his career, but certainly not his worst either.

He still continues to win faceoff after faceoff and what better position to put your team in when you can consistently win the faceoff. Bergeron has always been seen as the “future” captain for this team by me and many other people, and if there is a good time to show his leadership, it’s now.

Everyone knows that Bergeron can score goals and make the plays, but can he constantly make everyone around him better? That is something Savard as a player does on a nightly basis, and it is something Bergeron needs to do.

So this season I see him putting up 25 goals, 40 assists and a rating of +25. Maybe that might be too much to expect of him, but I really do believe he will be taking over this team sooner rather than later, so why not now? I see big things coming from Bergeron…big things, especially if he wants to live up to his new three-year contract.

Mark Recchi

The vet is back again. Mark Recchi will be 43 years old on Feb. 1st and he’s only looking ahead. This guy is the perfect man to have on the team and it’s great he was willing to come back for another season. His veteran presence alone is what makes this team so much stronger, and for someone like rookie Tyler Seguin, it’s what he needs in order to succeed in the NHL. Recchi has succeeded by all means and his role on the team is to be a leader and teach all the young players, and throw in a couple goals here and there.

Last season he surprised many (including me) when he scored 18 goals while adding 25 assists in 81 games. Did I mention that he is almost 43 years old??? That is absolutely incredible for someone his age. In a year when no one was scoring, he came in and puts up an easy 43 points. Now he’s a long ways away from his best season that he had in 1992-93, when he scored 53 goals and added 70 assists, but he’s still a threat on the offensive end.

This season I don’t expect him to be much of a force but who knows, he’s been doubting people year after year. I expect him to put up maybe 15 goals, 18 assists and have a +15 rating. Nothing amazing but certainly an impact.

Jordan Caron

This is another young kid who might be given a chance to get his feet wet in the NHL this season. Jordan Caron was selected in the first round of last year’s NHL Entry Draft (25th overall) and was signed this past March. Since then, he was assigned to the Providence Bruins. Now, I know he might not get a “real” chance to play a lot of minutes for Boston, but if someone does go down with an injury Caron will get a call real quick.

The 6-foot-3 right winger had 17 goals and 16 assists last season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in just 23 games for the QMJHL team. Since the Bruins have Horton, Recchi and Michael Ryder all ahead of Caron, he might get a couple of call-ups, but don’t expect to see him too much.

In his projected stay with the Bruins, he might get four goals and 10 assists in maybe 20 games this up-coming season.

Tyler Seguin

Heard enough of this kid yet? Well if you have, too bad. He is the most anticipated Bruins rookie since Joe Thornton wasdrafted way back in 1997. Too bad for Thornton, as he only scored three goals and had four assists in 55 games. Hopefully Seguin can put together better numbers than that.

As the No. 2 overall pick this summer, Seguin has a lot riding on his shoulders. First, he was expected to move over and play wing instead of center. Since then, he has moved back and forth and with Savard still out he might just get his opportunity at center. Now, Seguin is only 18 years old (he’ll be 19 in January), so he has a lot to learn in the league, but is still regarded as an impact player this season. Him and Taylor Hall were the only “NHL ready” players in this year’s draft class but it might be hard to have Seguin start on the ice from day 1. It has been said that he has good rapport with Recchi and Bergeron, so for him to start on a line with the two of them would be an incredible learning experience for him.

For the season I expect for him to play around 50-55 games and net somewhere around 20 goals while dishing out 25-30 assists. Whether or no he plays that much or is that productive is something to watch. Of course he is going to be the most popular player on the Bruins this season because so much is riding on him to be the future of the team. Honestly, I hope he starts off on the wing position so that he can be eased into controlling the team and if he does start on the same line as Bergeron then he’ll have plenty of opportunity to get the pick off the faceoff for sure.

Michael Ryder

Michael Ryder comes into this season kind of on the back-burner in terms of other players. Three years ago, he came in and was supposed to solidify the right wing position and be the dominant force he was a couple years ago in Montreal. His first season in Boston was a good one, as he scored 27 goals and had 26 assists. Last year, he went a little backwards, as he had 18 goals and 15 assists. A 20-point decrease in just a year, and he played in eight more games last season.

Ryder is not completely sitting on the bench, but with other players stepping up and younger players getting opportunities, it might be hard for Ryder to return to the form he was in his first season in Boston. He is now 30 years old and not getting any younger, so for him to be a veteran presence is definitely important for the team. He can still score as he showed last year in the playoffs when he scored four goals in the two series against Buffalo and Philadelphia, but he did only manage to collect one playoff assist.

I look for him to have a fairly similar season as he did last year, so maybe 20 goals, 22 assists and a -3 rating shouldn’t be too far off. That is of course if he doesn’t get hurt anytime soon.

Blake Wheeler

Blake Wheeler is an interesting story as well. He is also a right winger and is trying to surpass Ryder on the depth chart. Wheeler is six years younger and is known for being able to score. So should he play more of less than Ryder? I guess that comes down to who’s playing best at the time but since coming into the league two years ago Wheeler has been very consistent.

I don’t think anyone expected him to score 21 goals in his rookie season but he did. He followed that up with 18 last season. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft has done all he can to help the offense the past two seasons and hopefully this year he’ll continue that.

I expect him to slow it down a little on the goal scoring this season and give up the puck a little and start kicking in some assists. He might get 19 goals but he’ll add somewhere around 28 assists.

Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton comes into the season knowing his role right from the start: kick some ass and score at least a goal and give out a few assists. Paired with Brian McGrattan and Milan Lucic, Thornton and the Bruins have some serious fighters on this team now.

No one really expects Thornton to score anything so when he does, it’s a bonus. Just like Lucic, he can score a little bit (Lucic can score more) but it’s his fighting that is key to the team. It pumps up the crowd, the team and really helps in building a strong atmosphere. That is why he is important on the team. As long as he plays hard and contributes on both sides of the puck he will continue to be a fan-favorite.

As for the season, I predict that he’ll score two goals and add five assists with a -5 rating. He’ll get in about 16 fights and win them all. He might lose a tooth or two and hopefully he’ll break one glass board. 135 penalty minutes isn’t out of the question and neither is 125 hits. How about that for some numbers?

Daniel Paille

Daniel Paille came into Boston last year over from Buffalo and definitely made the best of his situation. He played two games for the Sabres before coming to the Bruins for a third-round and a conditional fourth-round pick. It was the first time the two teams made a trade in 39 years (trades between the two teams are unlikely since they are division rivals).

Paille wasn’t the largest impact on the Bruins but with 10 goals and nine assists, it didn’t hurt to have him. A former first-round pick, Paille figures to fit in somewhere behind Lucic and Thornton and if Seguin plays left wing it might get a little crowed.

I’m predicting that Paille plays a little more than he did last year and possibly scores a little more as well. Well, he better score more goals considering he had 118 shots-on-goal last season and only had 10 of them find the back of the net. Around 12 goals and 16 assists is not out of reach for Paille, but if he gets a lot of ice time, his goals could shoot up, since he is pretty good with the puck.

Marc Savard

By far the biggest question mark this whole season happens to be Marc Savard. I’m not even sure if he knows whether or not he will play this season. After suffering from a Grade 2 concussion on March 7, he returned in the postseason matchup against Philadelphia and scored the game-winning goal in overtime in Game 1 of the series. Since then he has post-concussion symptoms and his timetable to return has yet to be identified.

Reports out of ESPN in late September had said that Savard may miss the entire 2010-11 season, but Savard himself said that he planned on playing at some point this year. He also mentioned that he will not play unless he is fully healthy. I am guessing that he’ll come back in maybe late February and help push this Bruins team into the playoffs. He has been a big-game player in the past and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him work some magic late in the season and into the playoffs.

If I had to guess I would say that Savard might play about 22 games, score around nine goals and dish out 12 assists. At this point it is incredibly hard to tell what Savard might do this season, if he even gets on the ice. All we can hope for is to see him at some point this season.

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Discussion

One comment for “Bruins 2010-2011 Preview: Forwards”

  1. Have been watching lucic since he played up the road from me here in coquitlam always plays with heart, great blog, tom

    Posted by tom | October 15, 2010, 6:13 pm

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