How or where do I start this one? After the epic, disgusting collapse to the Flyers last year, it was up to Peter Chiarelli to reconstruct this potentially fragile organization to the point where the expectations of 2009/10 are met this year. Maybe that was the problem. This organization hasn’t had expectations like last year’s club did since newly named President, Cam Neely, was blazing up and down the wings of the original Boston Garden. We are talking about the 1990-1993 era when the Bruins came off their last Stanley Cup Final and then lost successive Wales Conference Finals to Mario Lemeiux’s Penguins in 1991 and 1992. Maybe last year’s team wasn’t mentally ready to handle the pressure coming off the breakout 2008/09 season.
I’m not a huge fan of Claude Julien’s “roll four lines” every game, no matter the situation. Ya, in late Februaury, winning (or losing) 6-2 I don’t have any issues rolling the lines and keeping the big guns fresher for future games. Not in Game 7 of the Conference Semi Finals after blowing both a 3-0 lead in games and the score in Game 7. I like Shawn Thornton – alot. I like his toughness and attitude on the ice and I’m not going to lie to you. He is mandantory to see after almost any game. His quotes are great and if the situation calls for it, he lightens the mood in the room. I remember after the the loss to the Flyers he was asked about his future as he was looking at becoming a UFA. I didn’t get it on tape so I’m paraphrasing when I say his answer was along the lines of “only if they want me back after this one.” Back to Julien though. Since his arrival, the team has had a presence in the playoffs every year. But something is lacking somewhere. The Bruins have lost three consecutive game seven’s in heartbreaking fashion. In 2008, they were blown out by the Canadiens in Montreal after coming back from a 1-3 deficit. The overtime loss to Carolina in 2009 at home was brutal but again, they dug themselves a 1-3 hole during the series. Lastly, who could forget the Philly series last year? ‘Nuff said.
Something is missing in Claude’s translation to the team after eight or nine months of drilling. I wouldn’t say he should be on a hot seat but barring injuries, a trip to the Conference Final should be mandantory for a team as talented as this.
First, Assistant Coach Craig Ramsey left the organization for the head job in Atlanta. Best of luck to Coach Ramsey and to fill in the loss, the Bruins brought in former Montreal Canadien Assistant Doug Jarvis. I’m not lying to you when my best friend Rob said to me mid-season last year the B’s should find him and get him on board. He was the reason for the Habs great power play and if you remember last year’s PP, especially after Savvy went down….Yuk. Hopefully the power play will be something to watch closely this year.
Cam Neely was officially named President in mid June allowing him to further put his stamp on the team.
Prior to the draft, the B’s traded the fans favorite on ice target since Hal Gill wore a spoked B. Mercifully, Dennis Wideman and the Bruins 2010 first round pick (#15 overall) were shipped to the Florida Panthers for “underachieving” Nathan Horton and grinder, Greg Campbell. Too bad Campbell, the son of Colin Campbell, wasn’t a Bruin last year. Maybe then Matt Cooke would have been punished for his cheapshot on Marc Savard. After the draft I spoke to Panther GM, Dale Tallon and in particular the Wideman trade for Horton. He’s really looking forward to getting Wides in his mix. As far as Horton. In a nutshell, he’s hoping the trade is the kick in the pants to get Horton’s career on the path that the #3 overall pick was expected to have. FYI – I loved the way Tallon aquired first round picks that first afternoon in LA.
Then we all went to Los Angeles for the draft. As a result of the “trade that keeps on giving” the B’s waited only for Edmonton to pick Taylor Hall before scooping up Tyler Seguin with the #2 overall pick
. With the 32nd overall pick, the Bruins took forward Jared Knight from the London Knights. Jared is only 18 years old and last year he scored 36 goals and 21 assists for 57 points while appearing in 63 games. Of course we Bruin fans are hoping the Leafs are as poor this year as they were last. The Bruins hold Toronto’s first round pick for 2011 in next year’s draft that will be held Minnesota.
Over the summer, Peter Chiarelli extended deals to Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler and Mark Recchi. He has also signed Tyler Seguin to a rookie deal.
In a deal that looks like the Bruins are saying ”who was at fault for the Game 7, Too many men penalty”, Vlad Sobotka was shipped to St. Louis for David Warsofsky. Warsofsky is currently a junior defenseman at Boston University. He also played for the United States National Development team in 2007-2008, recording 4-2=6 totals while skating in 15 games.
So how do I think the Bruins line up this year? Since Julien rolls all four of his lines let’s hit them all.
First Line - Savard between Horton and Lucic. Lot’s of “ifs” here. IF Marc Savard can keep his head clear all season, I see no reason why he won’t get you 85-100 points. All the while, lending a helping hand to the development of Tyler Seguin. IF Milan Lucic can stay healthy and return to his 2008/09 form when he, Savvy and Kessel scored at will. This line will need a healthy Looch to get his nose dirty in the corners. IF Nathan Horton gets his “perverbial act together” the winger should benefit from Looch’s forcheck and Savvy’s deft passing. I’m sure both wingers will get some attention from President Neely as to how the game should be played when you have the size and hands these players do.
Second Line – I think Krejci is more of a gifted offensive player than Bergeron is so I will put this line next. Reunite Krejci, Wheeler and Ryder. Let’s see if they can get the form of 2008/09 back. Ryder – and the Bruins for that matter – are kind of in a spot though. In the last year of his deal, Ryds cannot have a season like last year where he disappeared for many points of the season. If he wants another contract, he’s got to play much better than he did last year. What will hurt him the most is his big salary cap number and the fact the Bruins are over the cap going into the season. A move will have to be made and there is a strong possibility the Bruins ship him to Providence and bury the large cap hit like they did with Peter Schaefer a couple seasons ago. There could be a chance that Zach Hamill or Joe Colbourne get a chance to move up and switch over to a wing to make the team.
Krejci’s broken wrist is on schedule for him to start training camp on time. Blake Wheeler could be a cap casualty as well. He recently won an arbitration case this summer and with his combo of size, speed and youth, he could be trade bait.
Third Line – Bergeron, Seguin and Recchi. Bergy and Rex have worked well together since the 2009 trade when the B’s aquired him. I see this is a good spot to bring the rookie in if he makes the team. I think Seguin getting third line minutes on the wing will be better overall for his development than if he gets 6-8 minutes at center on the fourth line.
Fourth Line – Campbell, Paille and Thornton. We’ll get a good look at Campbell and how well he actually mixes in up as an energy guy. We all know and love Thornton (see above) and Paille has the speed to help on the PK and take advantage of other teams fourth line, energy guys.
As I’ve mentioned, the B’s have salary cap issues right now and come November, Marco Sturm will be coming off LTIR only adding to the problem
On Defense, I would line up the pairs like this:
Chara / Boychuk – Boychuk had a break out season after he lined up with the big Captian
Seidenburg / Stuart – I think Stuart’s the perfect stay home guy for Seidenburg
Ference / Hunwick – Not much of a fan of either. Hunwick’s gig is to move the puck but he had his share of problems last year. I spoke to a scout from a Southeast team frequently over the summer and he mentioned strategies his team has used against Ference, Hunwick and the dearly departed Wideman in an effort to help the Flyers in this year’s playoffs.
Ference signed a 3 year, approx $7 million dollar extension last year. I really don’t understand that move. It’s kind of expensive for an injury prone, 3rd pair defenseman. I can only think that maybe the B’s had a deal with someone prior to last year’s deadline and the other team wanted him locked up….then backed out? I hope that’s what it was.
I think they are very stong in net. Tuukka and Timmy…..Timmy and Tuukka. Either way, I’d like to see Rask get 50-55 starts so he is still fresh for the playoffs. If he has a sophomore slump this year, you have a solid player in Thomas to fill the shoes. Plus, Thomas has always played best when he’s been doubted. Well, after last year the doubts were high on Thomas and he will be looking to prove everyone wrong once again.
Oh and lastly…the B’s get to start the season in Prague, CZ this year with a “home and home” against the Phoenix Coyotes. A great way to start the season. Thirty four days until the B’s drop the puck in Prague. Can’t wait!
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Written by Jim Mulligan