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.
-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.
-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.