5 Bold Predictions for the Boston Bruins' Season
Coming off a loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in last season's Stanley Cup Final, the B's made some roster moves in the offseason to bolster their lineup and are now part of the Atlantic Division.
There is some concern over lingering injuries to Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell, as well as the still-undecided makeup of the makeshift third line.
Here are five bold predictions for the upcoming season.
Boston Will Win the Atlantic Division
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The Bruins finished one point behind the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division last year after winning back-to-back division crowns the previous two seasons. In order to sit in the throne once again, Boston will have to conquer three unfamiliar teams—Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida—in addition to the already well-known old Northeast rivals.
Detroit and Ottawa will be the toughest opponents for Boston, and Montreal and Toronto always play the B's tough. The only way Buffalo will win the division is if points are awarded for having goons trying to fight superstars. Tampa Bay and Florida should buy a timeshare for next May because they're not making the playoffs, either.
Boston will win the division because Tuukka Rask is the best goalie in the Atlantic. (Please accept my apologies, Carey and Jimmy.)
Boston will win the division because Zdeno Chara is the best defenseman in the Atlantic (sorry Niklas, Erik and P.K.).
Ottawa will have a healthy Erik Karlsson and Bobby Ryan, and the Leafs added Dave Bolland and David Clarkson (but he will miss the first 10 games). Montreal inked Daniel Briere. Not to be outdone, Boston nabbed Jarome Iginla and Loui Eriksson.
It won't be a stroll down Beacon Street. The Sens, Wings, Habs and Leafs all have young talent and great coaching.
Even with the questions surrounding the third line, Boston will come out on top, followed by Ottawa, Detroit, Toronto and Montreal.
Loui Eriksson Will Score 85 Points
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Loui Eriksson has scored over 70 points three times in his career, but never more than 73—and that's with that awful lineup he skated with in North Texas.
Now that he is with a talented roster in Boston, he is set up to have a career year.
The 28-year-old Swede will skate alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand and will have plenty of chances to get on the scoresheet with those two.
Eriksson has only missed three games in the past four seasons, and if he keeps up that trend, there will be no reason not to put up big numbers.
Eighty-five points is doable. Expect him to do it.
Tuukka Rask Will Be a Vezina Finalist
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Because the Boston roster is so strong, Rask will have to put up a phenomenal goals-against average in order to get the credit he deserves.
Jonathan Quick and Henrik Lundqvist, widely considered to be the two best goalies in the league, will be the front-runners for Vezina nominations.
Pekka Rinne and Mike Smith are just highly-paid pallbearers who carry their teams all season long. They'll get noticed by the hockey writers.
Like Rask, Anti Niemi, Corey Crawford and Carey Price all have great players skating in front of them. They're in the same boat as Rask. One of those four will practically have to jump ship in order for the Coast Guard that is the Professional Hockey Writers' Association to notice them.
This year, Rask will.
Jarome Iginla Will Score 35 Goals
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Before last year's short season, Jarome Iginla had 11 consecutive seasons of scoring at least 30 goals.
Now that he's on Boston's top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, he should return to that form, even after 16 NHL seasons.
Krejci will feed him the puck ad nauseam and Iggy will see time on the power play. He scored 14 goals in 44 games last season.
With 82 opportunities to lace up the skates this season, 35 goals won't be too difficult for the 36-year-old Edmontonian.
Brad Marchand Will Have Down Year Offensively
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The "Little Ball of Hate" is entering his fourth season with the Bruins, and it will be the first without his close friend Tyler Seguin.
As Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston wrote last week, trading Seguin indirectly affected Marchand. It let him know that nobody in the organization is exempt from getting moved, and he will have to corral his emotions when he plays. McDonald noted that Marchand misses his close friend, who is now in Dallas. From McDonald's piece:
"It's different. It's a little quieter," Marchand said. "It's always tough in training camp when the team's spilt up; you don't see the guys as much and things are a little different. But, yeah, it's definitely a little quieter around without him. We always joked around a lot on the ice and had fun out there. It's been fun getting to know Loui."
McDonald pointed out that Marchand and Seguin, for the majority of the past three seasons, were linemates. That, and their age, brought them together. But now Seguin is gone, and it will affect him this season.
Marchand will now be joined with Loui Eriksson along with his usual center Bergeron. Eriksson is the hot commodity, the new family on the street. The B's are going to try and get him established early in the season.
Marchand is in danger of being last week's flavor. Now is the time to see how mature he is.
No. 63's goal-scoring will be down this year, with Eriksson being the more gifted scorer and getting the majority of the chances. This season will be a test of Marchand's character. When things aren't going his way offensively, how will he adjust without his buddy?
Can he still be an effective pest even if he's not scoring? That will be something that Boston needs this year.