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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Season Preview

The Boston Bruins were picked to finish near the bottom of Eastern Conference by many in 2007-2008.  Even with numerous injuries during the season, (Manny Fernandez, Patrice Bergeron, Andrew Alberts) the Bruins were able to squeak into the playoffs to finish 8th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 41-29-12 and 94 points.  They took the number 1 seeded Montreal Canadiens to a 7th game in the first round of the playoffs despite going 0-9-1 against them in the regular season and being without arguably their best player in Patrice Bergeron, and one of their leading scorers in Chuck Kobasew.  

The 2008-2009 seasons brings a new chapter to the team and its fans.  The much anticipated return of C Patrice Bergeron after his season ending concussion.  The development of Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, David Krejci, Vladimir Sobotka and Petteri Nokelainen.  And, the emergence of former 5th overall pick Blake Wheeler.

But, the season also has many questions marks.  How will Manny Fernandez play?  Will Patrice Bergeron be his former self?  Will Michael Ryder be a 30 goal scorer or a 4 millon dollar bust?  Will the offense step up?  Will Milan Lucic go through a sophmore slump?  Can they stay healthy?  You can ask all the questions you want, but in the end, the Bruins team on paper is one of the top teams in the East.  Once again the Bruins are ranked between 12 and 20 in most national rankings, but they will surprise many people.

Offseason Moves:
-Signed Michael Ryder (Montreal) to a 3 year deal worth 12 million dollars.
-Signed Stephane Yelle (Calgary) to a 1 year deal worth 750k.
-Signed Blake Wheeler (Phoenix) to a 2 year entry level deal.

Key Losses:
-Glen Metropolit (Philadelphia)
-Alex Auld (Ottawa)
-Glen Murray (Free Agent)
-Peter Schaefer (Providence)
-Jeremy Reich (Providence)

The 08-09 Bruins team remains almost intact from the previous season.  Michael Ryder will provide a true sniper on the right wing with Marc Savard.  Ryder replaces Glen Murray who was bought-out this past offseason.  Murray could no longer skate and with his legs went his shot.  Ryder had back to back 30 goal seasons and has scored 25+ goals 3 out of his 4 seasons.  However, he did only have 14 goals last season, but he did not play many minutes and rarely saw PP time.  Blake Wheeler, who was supposed to play in Providence this season, played so well during training camp that he earned a spot on the roster.  Stephane Yelle, a Stanley Cup champion, provides leadership and defensive responsibility.  He is a great face-off guy as well, and replaces Glen Metrpolit in the lineup.

The Bruins struggled to score last season, near the bottom of the league with 212 goals.  They upgraded on the wing with Michael Ryder over Glen Murray.  They also have the development of Kessel, Krejci, Lucic, Sobotka and Nokelainen.  And, not to forget, the return of Patrice Bergeron.  That alone should increase the total amount of goals.  While the Bruins won't win a lot of shootout type games, this season should be able to score more goals and be able to stay in game in which they give up 2, 3, and 4 goals.  Marc Sturm, Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, Patrice Bergeron, Michael Ryder, and PJ Axelsson round out the top 6.  This team is extremely deep at forward, and look for a lot of line shuffling to make the most of the offense. 

The Bruins had one of the better teams defensively in the league.  Zdeno Chara played like a Norris Trophy caliber player while Dennis Wideman developed into one of the better young offensive defenseman in the league, making the Brad Boyes trade seem better.  Aaron Ward is still back and provides all around solid play and timely goals.  Mark Stuart showed strides last season and should continue to develop.  Andrew Ference remains, and the Bruins hope he steps up his game from last year.  Andrew Alberts returns after an injury plagued season and Shane Hnidy is the 7th defenseman.  

Tim Thomas, an All-Star last season, will still be the number one this season.  Manny Fernandez will likely battle him for the top spot and if healthy, they could provide a nice duo.  Hot prospect Tuukka Rask will remain in Providence barring a trade or injury.  The goaltending has thought to be an issue in the past, but with the play of Thomas over the past few seasons, the goaltending is no longer an issue.

Overall, this Bruins teams seems poised to make some damage.  This was a 94 point team without Bergeron or Fernandez.  They were the only team to make the playoffs that allowed more goals than they scored.  They had 12 OT losses.  If they had won a few more, plus splitting with Montreal, and had Bergeron not gotten injured, this team EASILY could have been a 104+ point team.  Take the team from last season and add the pieces they acquired and developed this offseason, and the Bruins could challenge for the top spot in the East.  At the same time, if the young guys don't pan out, the season could be a disappointment, but why worry?

47-25-10, 106 points, 2nd in East.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well put Matt. I've watched and played alot of hockey and it blows me away when all these sport analyst place the bruins in 10th in the east. Do they even watch our games? How can we be worse then last year. I dont see any team getting better then us in the off season, if anything other teams lost some key components. ie Hossa, Campbell, Bernier, Huet, Cole, Richards, Jokinen, Jagr, Straka, Avery, Shanahan and there still more dont get me wrong some teams got players to try to fill that void but realisticaly there going to need time to gel if they gel at all. :-) Fallse Ontario

9:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thats a bold prediction matt.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous ytnomonty said...

low plyoff team + 60 points (bergeron) + 23 goals (halfway between ryder with 13 minutes and ryder with 23 minutes) + blake wheeler (anywhere from 20 to 60 points) + development of kessel lucic kreijci nokie and sobotka = a better team. seeing as we can beat montreal now we should be able to split the series. also, the b's should be able to come from 2 points behind to win. if you believe the bruins could win 5 more games than last year, yes just 5, then you believe they can get 104 points. are the bruins 5 wins better? i think so

104 points is my prediction

11:02 PM  
Blogger Jefe77 said...

It is a bold prediction, but if things go the way they could, it might be right on.

If the Bruins can win half their games against the Habs, than why not? As the last post stated, dont you think with a healty Bergeron, Ryder in place of Murray, Wheeler providing even more size and strength up front, that the Bruins can win 5 more games?

Of course you do.


6:07 AM  
Anonymous vince m said...

Picking up a couple of critical wins against the hated Habs will add a couple of more points. Also the 1 goal games could go the other way and we pickup a couple of more points. With Patrice being healthy, the addition of Ryder and Wheeler we should have more offense. We just have to keep up with the goals against and we should be a better overall club.

I see nothing but a bright future for the Bruins. I think PC is doing a great job, some decisions have had me scratching my head but things seem to be working out.

vince m

12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

we need a goalie to step-up and steal some wins. fernandez has something to prove to the team, and thomas has something to prove to everyone who says he's shit (which is everyone). i think it's gonna happen...bruins will top 100 this year. imagine if ryder decides to score some goals!!!

i wonder how long the leafs will wait to sign glen murray...

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you people high? Look at the way the league is right now, especially the East. The B's are a BETTER team than last year, but over 100 points? Quit drinking the Kool Aid.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow these are pretty bold predictions..I am a die hard bruins fan and would like to see this finish but lets be realistic...they are not going to be 2nd in the east. I see this team around the 6 and 7 seed.

4:52 PM  

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