2014/15 Season Preview – Boston Bruins
2013/14 Season Record – 1st in Eastern Conference, 1st in Atlantic Division
Post-Season Record – 2nd round loss to Montreal Canadiens 3-4
2013/14 Season Recap
The Bruins were the team to beat last season. They pipped the Ducks to the Presidents’ Trophy but fell to much hated rivals the Habs in Game 7 of the second round. It was a disappointing end to the year. Throughout the season, the Bruins were favourites to repeat their final appearance and to go one better. Tuukka Rask was a force in the net, ending the season with league leading figures in shutouts and save percentage (among starters), heading towards his Vezina Trophy. The team as a whole had the best +/- figures when compared to any other team (Krejci alone was a +39!) – to fantasy owners’ relish.
The team played their usual tough physical style and it paid off for them. But they had big injuries, notably to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg who went out in December to an ACL/MCL injury. Loui Eriksson and Daniel Paille had concussion issues, and Chris Kelly suffered a broken ankle. There was also the notable suspension to Thornton in the Pens game in December, but the less said about the transgressions on both sides in that game the better. The Bruins maintained their dominance for most of the season, and it’s a credit to their dedication to their style of play that they were so tough to beat.
|Milan Lucic||David Krejci||Matt Fraser|
|Brad Marchand||Patrice Bergeron||Reilly Smith|
|Chris Kelly||Carl Soderberg||Loui Eriksson|
|Daniel Paille||Gregory Campbell||Simon Gagne|
|Zdeno Chara||Dougie Hamilton|
|Dennis Seidenberg||Adam McQuaid|
|Torey Krug||Kevan Miller|
Top Call-Up Options
1. Ryan Spooner (F)
2. Malcolm Subban (G)
3. Alexander Khokhlachev(F)
- Shawn Thornton (to FLA
- Jarome Iginla (to COL)
- Johnny Boychuk (to NYI)
- Chad Johnson (to NYI)
With a very small amount of cap space, juggling the Bruins roster is a precision task. The lack of space hampered them in finding a new contract for Jarome Iginla, who Bruins fans would love to have seen back, given his impact. The one-year deals for Torey Krug and Reilly Smith are looking like they could be bargains; especially if they step up their games in order to secure good contractions for next season.
There were a number of losses but no first team pick-ups for the Bruins over the summer. With a wealth of talent in Providence, the holes in the roster were filled with some success, although how they settle down into the system is yet to be seen. Trading out Johnny Boychuk for drafts picks was a good move for the Bruins to clear up some last minute cap space, but it leaves them with the loss of an experienced D. Unfortunately they started the 2014-15 season without David Krejci, who was out due to an undisclosed injury, and also fourth line centre Greg Campbell. Krejci is now back on the ice and looks to be settling in again, however Lucic may take some time to settle down after wrist surgery in the off-season. The lack of Krejci in the opening games highlights Lucic’s need for an elite player to lift his game.
The quality of their second line, which is unchanged from last season, gives them very competent back-up. It’s centred by Patrice Bergeron, the team’s leading goal scorer last season (tied with Iginla). Bergeron is the heart of the team, and to be frank, the heart of the NHL – recognised by his second Selke Trophy and his NHL Foundation Player Award last season. He’s an ambassador for the sport. Find me someone that says they hate Bergeron, and I’ll show you a liar. There are so many reasons why he’s gracing the cover of NHL15.
It’s looking like the third line will be the one to do the heavy lifting, especially Soderberg and Kelly who are workhorses. Eriksson is still settling in after the concussion issues last season, but seems to be settling down with Soderberg. Their work together on the power play unit with Bergeron and Smith highlights the compatibility.
Captain Zdeno Chara will lead the D-core again, and although starting to slow down a little, he’s still one of the top defenders in the league and his shot mean he’s a power play force to be feared by opposing teams. I’ll expect to see him continuing to laugh at everyone that thinks they can drop gloves on him. Dennis Seidenberg is back after his season ending ACL/MCL injury in December last season. He’ll likely take a few games getting back to his normal self, which will be hampered by the trade of his usual partner Johnny Boychuk – a move that has caused a few ripples through the fans and the team alike. Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton will likely be looked at to step up while we see what Chara’s stamina will be like, and how long Seid’s journey to full fitness will take. Questions for the season will be whether McQuaid can stay healthy and if Miller can fill the big gap left by Boychuk’s departure.
As of time of writing, Simon Gagne has just been signed to the team. He had been travelling with them without a contract after a PTO in pre-season after a year out. He may be the offensive spark the team needs, if he can get up to NHL speed quickly and if he creates a good relationship with Paille who has been the stalwart of the fourth line.
If Tuukka has another good season, then the Bruins will have a solid foundation on which to build up the numbers in the win column. All eyes may well be on Chara though this season. At 37 he’s heading towards the end of his career, but he should still be classed as a Top 5 defenseman. Chara clocked up 40 points last season and had a +25 +/- which is not to be sniffed at when he’s given the toughest top line match-ups.
David Krejci was the top points scorer for the Bs last season, and the assists leader. Centering the top line heaps a lot of expectation on his shoulders, but Krejci is one of the best playmakers on the team. With Iginla gone it will be no surprise if Patrice Bergeron leads the team in goals scored. Bergy is one of the league’s best centres and can be relied on to be consistently excellent. If Bergy stays healthy he’ll be the team’s MVP.
The Bruins have some adapting to do with the loss of some top flight players and the lack any NHL vets or starters to replace them. Having said that, the Bruins’ style of play is tough to beat. If Rask stays solid between the pipes, and Krejci is back in the line up soon, then there’s no reason why the Bs can’t repeat last year’s winning trend and avenge the second round loss. Except, the first few games have shown that the Bruins are a little shaky, and the pre-season injuries certainly haven’t helped to get the team settled down. A proclaimed change in style with the exit of Thornton isn’t really being seen, certainly not with the addition of Bobby Robbins for the first few games. However with Gagne signed and Robbins waived, then we may actually see some of that change in style.
The second and third lines are the most solid. If they remain clear of injury they’ll be a good foundation for first and fourth lines that need time to settle down. The lack of cap space will likely see the Bruins hit hard this season. Losing players like Iginla without NHL calibre replacements depletes their offensive capability, and Boychuk heading to the Isles – and already making his mark – leaves a big gap in defence. Given a few games it’s likely Seidenberg will shake off the cobwebs, and the team will need him to do so if they’re going to stay solid at the back.
Injuries could be the undoing of the Bruins this season. While there are some NHL-ready players among the prospects and in Providence, not all can play the system as well as they would need to should they be called up to fill any gaps. Ideally the Bruins need to find space somewhere for a competent winger for the first line alongside Krejci and Lucic. In the past Craig Cunningham and Seth Griffith have been plugged in there, and they were looking at David Pastrnak for the role, but he was injured in preseason – however watch this space for his return. It may be that the Bruins will use the draft picks they took for Boychuk to find that winger, but whether they can find the right calibre with the limited cap space available is questionable.
What is clear is that if the Bruins want to go further than last season there are a few teething troubles they need to iron out. They may not see the Presidents’ Trophy again this year, but that probably won’t stop them from making their mark on the playoffs.
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