The Bruins 2008-2009 run to the best record in the Eastern Conference started early. Boston jumped out to a 5-3-3 record, which on the surface did not look spectacular. However, that month allowed the team to establish its identity, as well as a stable lineup which went on to steamroll the rest of the league in November, December and January.
This time around the team comes into the season with arguably its highest expectations in more than a decade. Despite the loss of leading goal scorer Phil Kessel, the offense should still continue to click with the likes of Marc Savard, David Krejci, and Blake Wheeler.
The defense is possibly the strongest in the NHL, anchored by the baddest man on the planet, 6'9" Zdeno Chara. The only missing piece is Aaron Ward who was picked up by the Hurricanes. Instead the B's will pair free agent signee Derek Morris with Chara, adding the puck-moving defenseman they could've used a year ago.
Taking a look at the schedule, there's no doubt the Bruins will be tested early. While a five game opening home-stand helps, each of Boston's first three opponents (Capitals, Hurricanes, Ducks) are playoff teams from a year ago. The first two especially will be tough with the Capitals coming in as one of the few teams viewed as Stanley Cup contenders and the Hurricanes a strong team that ended the Bruins playoff run prematurely last season.
Overall, Boston fans should expect another solid start. There very likely will be an adjustment period beyond training camp, especially with the new Chara/Morris pairing. Marco Sturm appears to be healthy, but may need a few games to readjust after missing almost all of last year. David Krejci says he's ready to play after offseason surgery, but he too should need some time before being 100 percent.
The main reason I believe the Bruins will succeed while some of these players take some time to adjust to new surroundings or recover from injuries...Tim Thomas. The reigning Vezina winner is a supreme competitor and will work as hard as possible to keep Boston in every game. He's the reason they made it as far as they did last year, and his play will be the key to another successful season in Beantown.