Boston Bruins Aspire for Big Year in 2009

Wayne WhittakerCorrespondent IJanuary 1, 2009

2008 was a success for the Boston Bruins.

A late-season surge led to an exciting seven-game series against the Montreal Canadiens in the '07-'08 season.

Coming into the '08-'09 season, expectations were high, and have been far surpassed by the outstanding play of the (once again) Big Bad Bruins.

Always looking forward, Coach Claude Julien jumbled the lines a bit in the B's last win against Pittsburgh, demoting Milan Lucic to the third line and putting veteran P.J. Axelsson alongside center Marc Savard and sniper Phil Kessel. 

Why mess with success?

“I guess it’s just preventing things from getting stale." Coach Julien replied when questioned about the curious move.

The Bruins' January schedule is highlighted by the match up against the Montreal Canadiens on the 13th. The Habs may feel a sense of desperation as the two teams battle for the Northeast Division (which the Bruins currently hold a 12-point lead over their bitter rivals).

Also on tap for Boston are some big games against the Eastern Conference rival Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers.

In other words, the B's should have their hands full. And if they wish to continue the success they've had in recent months they will have to battle hard not only in the games listed above, but also in the possible "trap" games against teams like Toronto, Minnesota, and Carolina.

However. don't expect Zdeno Chara and company to come out soft against any team.

"We just want to win every game," the towering Bruins captain said while addressing the media after Tuesday's win over Pittsburgh, "The stats and the history is one thing, but playing every game the best we can is another thing. After each game we want to look forward instead of back on whatever the record is."

First up for Boston is Pittsburgh in the second game of a home-and-home battle on New Year's Day in the new Garden. The slumping Pens will have to step up their game if they want to have a shot against this year's team to beat in the East.

The injury bug has bitten the B's, but strong depth down in Providence has allowed the continued dominance by the Bruins. With Aaron Ward back in the lineup and Petteri Nokelainen, Andrew Ference, Patrice Bergeron, and Marco Sturm all working toward a quick return, the new-comers Martin St. Pierre, and Matt Hunwick shouldn't get too comfy in the locker room.

2009 has the potential to be a very big year for the Boston Bruins. Will the cup drought on Causeway Street finally come to an end? We'll have to see if the Killer B's can say true to their New Year's resolution.