The last time we saw the Bruins play, they were causing the citizens of Vancouver to burn their city to the ground. Now, for the first time since 1972, they enter the season as the defending champions, and they’ll wear a target on their backs as a result.
Last year obviously couldn’t have gone better, and their core is largely intact to start this year, so there is no reason to think that they won’t be an elite contender again this year.
One player who could be missed is Mark Recchi. The veteran was surprisingly effective last year—especially in the playoffs—and he provided outstanding leadership as well. If the team seems lost early in the season, then that could be an issue.
On the other end of the age spectrum is Tyler Seguin. The high-profile rookie was only mediocre during the season, but when given the chance to be a replacement player during the playoffs, he really excelled. That emergence could be an indicator of a big step forward this year.
Let’s take a look at what the team has in store and some Boston Bruins predictions:
Boston Bruins Offseason Moves
There was surprisingly little movement for this team. Besides Recchi, Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle left in free agency, and Marc Savard will miss at least this season—and likely more—because of concussion issues.
Additions include winger Benoit Pouliot and defenseman Joe Corvo. Their biggest offseason move was getting young star Brad Marchand signed to a new two-year contract just before training camp started.
2011-12 Boston Bruins Outlook
This team is going to be good. Tim Thomas is 37 years old, but he has been the best goaltender on the planet the last three years—and he has two Vezina Awards and a Conn Smythe Trophy to prove it. Goalies often lose their edge as they age, but guys like Thomas, Dominik Hasek and Martin Brodeur have proven to be exceptions to that rule. If Thomas is as sharp as he has been, then this team has a very strong foundation to build on.
With Tuukka Rask as a security blanket—one of the better backup goalies in the league—the team is very well positioned at the back end.
Seguin should take a step forward. Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid should progress as well. Youngsters like Dougie Hamilton and Ryan Spooner are top prospects who could jump to the next level this year. Teams that want to continue to be strong have to have a pipeline of young talent.
Thanks to strong player management—like robbing the Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel—this team is loaded. With the new talent added and the experience the players who were on the roster last year got in the playoffs, this team is very well-positioned. As long as they can keep this core together—and they are better positioned against the salary cap than a lot of teams—they are going to continue to be a factor in the East for years to come.
2011-12 Boston Bruins Schedule
The game to circle here is obvious: the Canucks travel to Boston on Jan. 7. These teams really don’t like each other, so the Stanley Cup rematch could provide some real fireworks.
Boston Bruins NHL Future Odds (from Bodog)
Boston is the third choice in the league to win the Stanley Cup at 10/1, trailing only Washington and Vancouver. There is much more value to be found in betting on them to win the Eastern Conference. There they are just the fourth choice at 11/2 behind the Capitals, Flyers and Penguins.
2011-12 Boston Bruins Predictions
I like this team, but I’m not convinced that they are going to repeat. There is a big reason for that: they weren’t the best team in the conference during the regular season last year, and it was only because they got hot at the right time last year that they won it all.
While I expect them to be as good as last year, I also expect Washington to be even better, and Boston at their best is not as good as Washington. I think they have a better chance to win the conference than Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, so they could be attractive in the conference futures—at least in comparison—but I would be happier betting against them repeating or winning the conference than I would be to bet on them.
Doc’s Sports is very excited for this upcoming NHL season. Visit our home page to access all team previews, as well as more sports articles, betting odds and full coverage on the 2011-12 NHL season.