NHL 2011: 15 Predictions for the Boston Bruins
The Stanley Cup champions will be looking to defend their title in the 2011-2012 season.
With a few significant losses in Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder and a couple of noteworthy additions in rookie Dougie Hamilton and veteran Joe Corvo, the Boston Bruins should be in for an interesting season.
Here's a list of things you should expect to see in the upcoming season.
15. The Vancouver Canucks Will Defeat the Boston Bruins
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The Vancouver Canucks choked during the Stanley Cup Final by blowing a 2-0 series lead with Roberto Lebrongo at the helm. Despite a few shutouts on his home ice, he put on performances at the TD Garden that were painful to watch. Things didn't get any better for him during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final as he gave up 4 goals.
There's no reason for Luongo to choke during their regular season matchup. He'll put up great numbers, post a few shutouts, maybe even receive a Vezina nomination.
Vancouver's explosive offense and solid goaltending will power them over the Bruins during their regular season matchup, giving them the "W."
14. The Bruins and Canadiens Will Have at Least One Big Brawl
The Boston Bruins meet the Montreal Canadiens six times during the regular season and there's tons of unfinished business between these two teams.
Maybe Montreal will be seeking some form of revenge against Boston after they knocked them out of the first-round of the playoffs?
13. Benoit Pouliot Will Be a Disappointment
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The Boston Bruins recently signed former Montreal Canadiens winger Benoit Pouliot to a one year, $1.1 million contract. Filling the void Michael Ryder left when he was traded to Dallas won’t be an easy task. Pouliot has a history of underachieving, but you could say the same for Ryder.
Pouliot totaled only 13 goals and 17 assists in 79 games with the Habs. Those are less than impressive numbers as Pouliot was the fourth overall pick in the 2005 draft. It’s not guaranteed that Pouliot will see a whole lot of ice time with the B’s—he might even spend time in the minors. Either way, expect to see sub-par numbers from Pouliot during the 2011-2012 season.
12. Joe Corvo Will Become a Valuable Asset
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The B’s acquired 34-year-old Joe Corvo from the Carolina Hurricanes for Tomas Kaberle during the offseason. Corvo will prove to be an asset to the Bruins defense by bringing an offensive element to their blue line.
Corvo had 11 goals and 29 assists last season—even more impressive numbers than Benoit Pouliot’s. Don’t expect Corvo to outshine the other behemoth blue liners like Captain Zdeno Chara or Dennis Seidenberg, but anticipate more offensive production from the defense.
11. Adam McQuaid Will Have at Least 20 Fighting Majors
The team leader in fighting majors during the 2010-11 regular season was none other than Shawn Thornton with 14. In second place was rookie Adam McQuaid with 12. McQuaid's defensive ability is expanding and so will his PIM.
McQuaid is a ruthless and aggressive player with physical intimidation and a 6'4" frame. Expect McQuaid to have over 20 bouts during the regular season.
10. Shawn Thornton Will Seek Revenge
Last season, the Bruins and Blackhawks only met once with the Bruins coming out on top 3-0.
The second period was underway when Boston's Shawn Thornton and Chicago's Fernando Pisani collided behind the Boston goal. Shawn Thornton took a skate to the forehead above his right eye, leaving a gash that required 40 stitches. According to Thornton, as he skated off the ice the Chicago bench began chirping and taunting him. Even referee Don Van Massenhoven heard it and warned them to stop.
Chicago is just asking for trouble by picking on a guy like Shawn Thornton.
They only meet once during the 2011-2012 season and I've got a feeling there's some unfinished business between Thornton and the Hawks. Don’t be surprised if Thornton drops the gloves against Chicago.
9. Tuukka Rask Will Post 4 Shutouts
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Tuukka Rask didn't see much playing time last season due to Tim Thomas' miracle run. Rask started 29 games during the 2010-11 season, putting up an 11-14 record. He also managed to maintain a solid .918 save percentage and 2.67 goals against average. While his record was under .500, Rask delivered when the B's needed him. He made a handful of ridiculous saves and posted two shutouts.
Rask is arguably one of the most talented backups in the league. He recently underwent a minor knee surgery which—hopefully—will improve his game. Maybe he'll pull a Tim Thomas and come back an even better goaltender than he was before.
8. Tyler Seguin Will Have a Breakout Season
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Rookie Tyler Seguin got a chance to shine when he was thrown into the lineup during the Eastern Conference Final and he did not disappoint.
In his playoff debut, Seguin scored one of the two Boston goals in Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He tallied two more goals in Game 2, helping the B's get the win and giving him four points in two playoff games. Seguin was the first teen in the NHL to accomplish this since Trevor Linden in 1989.
While he had a slow and less than impressive regular season last year, expect to see more of Tyler Seguin in 2011-12. He'll be given more time on the ice and therefore more time to shine.
7. Marc Savard Will Retire
During the 2009-10 regular season, Marc Savard suffered a severe concussion due to a blindside hit at the hands of none other than Penguins winger Matt Cooke. Savard returned to the lineup during the 2009-10 playoffs but was sidelined once again after suffering yet another concussion in the game against Colorado.
Savard is still suffering from post-concussion depression as a result of the first hit and is showing other post-concussion symptoms. Even months after the incident, he’s still experiencing memory loss. It’ll be a huge risk for Savard to return to the Bruins lineup—if he ever does.
There would always be a threat of Savard receiving another concussion and possibly enduring permanent, career-ending damage. Returning to the ice is just not worth it if he has to put his life in jeopardy.
6. Dennis Seidenberg Will Receive the Other "A"
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Dennis Seidenberg is one of the most underrated defenseman in the NHL. He’s got incredible defensive ability and excellent leadership qualities. With Mark Recchi retired that leaves another alternate captain spot open and Seidenberg is the perfect candidate.
At 30 years of age with eight years of experience, Seidenberg can be considered a veteran player. Alternate captains should be able to display leadership on and off the ice and they have to be one of the go to guys for the younger, less experienced players on the team.
Seidenberg is definitely qualified for the alternate captain spot.
5. The Bruins Will Only Make It to the Second-Round of the Playoffs
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The Boston Bruins 2010-11 playoff run was nothing short of a miracle. No one expected them to get as far as they did, but with phenomenal goaltending and a no quit work ethic, they climbed all the way to the top and won their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
However, it’s unlikely that next season will have the same result. While most of their Stanley Cup champion team is still intact, the losses of Michael Ryder, Tomas Kaberle and Mark Recchi could turn out to be critical.
History can repeat itself, but as far as I’m concerned the Bruins won’t make it past the second-round in the 2011-12 season.
4. Brad Marchand will score 30 goals
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When Tyler Seguin's expected stardom lulled, Brad Marchand stepped into the spotlight giving him a breakout rookie season. He was moved from the fourth line, to the second line where he was aided by some of the best in the game: Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi. This line was a mixture of veteran leadership and fresh young talent, and proved to be one of Boston's most offensively productive lines.
Marchand scored 21 goals during the regular season, and managed to tally 11 goals during the playoffs ranking him second in goals right below his teammate David Krejci.
Marchand was also ranked 3rd in the league for most shorthanded goals during the regular season (5) and had an impressive +25 +/-.
Expect to see an even more skilled and experienced Noseface Killah in the upcoming season.
3. David Krejci Will Accumulate 60 Assists
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David Krejci led the playoffs with 12 goals in 2010-11 and also tallied 11 assists. During the regular season he had only 13 goals, but had an impressive 49 assists. Even teammate Milan Lucic believes that Krejci is one of the most skilled passers on the team with his stellar stick-handling ability. He's also more of a pass-first kind of guy, rather than take the shot.
David Krejci set up some of the biggest goals of the regular season and playoffs. He assisted Nathan Horton's game-winning goal in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Using speed and finesse, Krejci always seems to be in the right place at the right time ready to deliver the perfect pass.
Krejci's assist stats will definitely go up. He only has room to improve from here.
2. Tim Thomas Will Have Another Stellar Season
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I'm not saying he's going to win the Vezina or the Hart Trophy. Thomas will put up numbers similar to last year, but there 's just no way of duplicating last season's miracle run.
There will also be intense competition for the Vezina with elite goaltenders such as Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne and Carey Price.
Thomas has proved more than once that he is the deciding factor of success for Boston and he'll do it again in this upcoming season.
1. Patrice Bergeron Will Be Nominated for the Frank J. Selke Trophy
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Bergeron just missed being nominated for the Selke during the 2010-11 season. Not only is he one of the most underrated forwards in the game offensively, but he displays excellent defensive ability as well.
Bergeron is a player that will do anything to move the puck, get the perfect pass and protect the net. He'll have a more than solid regular season and will finally get the recognition he deserves with a Selke nomination.