Everyone knows about the huge moves the Blue Jackets, Rangers, and Lightning made. If you do not know what I am talking about, shame on you for living under a rock. My Boom or Bust article covers everything you need to know or go to any hockey website.
I wanted to cover a team you never saw coming that is going to have an amazing season. This team has all the pieces they need to be serious contenders.
I know a couple people from Boston and lately all I have heard is Tom Brady this, Red Sox that, Yankees suck, and all this while decked out in green clothes celebrating the return of the Celtics to basketball powerhouses. No one seems to be talking about “the other” Boston team, the Boston Bruins.
Secretly the Bruins have been putting together one very nasty team and outside of Zdeno Chara, there has been no mention of their possible greatness.
First, the Bruins have a really solid group of goaltenders. They have veterans Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas backed with the best goalie not playing in the NHL, Tuukka Rask. Fernandez has not delivered exactly what was expected of him and should be a good depth guy as the third goaltender.
This year could be Rask’s year to cut his teeth in the NHL as a backup to Tim Thomas. Rask has been playing in Finland and needs to become adjusted to the North American game before he can rightfully claim the starting job.
Tim Thomas is the starting goaltender and for good reason. Thomas’ 2.44 GAA and .921 save percentage are respectable and I believe he can repeat those numbers in the ’08-’09 season.
Guarding this trio of goaltenders is the Bruins’ underrated defense. The monolith that is Zdeno Chara led the Bruins' defense in most categories—including size—with 17 goals, 34 assists, 51 points, and 114 PIM.
The Bruins also have well-rounded Dennis Wideman contributing significant points from the blueline. The rest of Boston’s defense consists mainly of shutdown guys like veteran Aaron Ward, former first-rounder Mark Stuart, and anti-Crosby hero Andrew Ference (even though I would call the fight a draw).
Up front, the Bruins have multiple lines that can score and that translates into a serious threat for top heavy teams. Sure, the Bruins made that trade to get rid of Joe Thornton, but Marc Savard seems to be stepping into Joe’s place quite nicely by averaging more than a point a game last year.
Marco Sturm and Chuck Kobasew are also big contributors to the Bruins' top lines. Patrice Bergeron is the best player you have never heard of and if it were not for his injury early last season he would have put up similar numbers to Savard.
If you look at the Bruin’s stats from last year, you'll see it has a nice descending flow in point totals rather than a sharp drop off after the top line. This shows that even guys that play less minutes like David Krejci, Peter Schaefer, and Milan Lucic can contribute 20+ points a season.
In the off-season, the Bruins added former fifth overall pick Blake Wheeler from Phoenix to their line-up. Wheeler has played with Bruin and fellow American Phil Kessel at the University of Minnesota and a reunion could spell success.
Another possible reunion that the Bruins will reap the benefits from is coach Julien and newly acquired Michael Ryder. The Bruins hope the change of scenery and getting back with an old coach will return Michael Ryder to his 30 goal form.
All of these pieces the Bruins have assembled may not seem like much individually, but this is truly a great team capable of great things.