The upcoming NHL season will be a different look for the Boston Bruins. The main difference between the beginning of the 2009-10 season and the 2008-09 season is that the B's will no longer have the "surprise" factor.
Although the Bruins will be competitive, it can be assumed that they will not be losing just one game in both November and December of this year. Teams recognise the competition this team represents, and now they will get up and ready for them. The Bruins will face plenty of adversity this year in a league where, on any given night, any given team can beat the other.
Aside from the Bruins not surprising anyone this season, they certainly will remain at a competitive level. They still have the best roster in the Northeast and the best coach in the Eastern Conference.
And let's not forget they also still own the reigning Norris and Vezina Trophy winners. Tim Thomas has gotten progressively better with each passing year, just another opportunity to prove to everyone out there that he is as good as they come.
This year will be no different. Expect Thomas to be that much stronger, that much faster, that much more controlled, that much better in his game.
And there are no secrets about the skill of Zdeno Chara, heading a defense that has added veteran Derek Morris and looks forward to a healthy Andrew Ferrence. Also with young offensive defensemen Dennis Wideman and Matt Hunwick getting better and better, expect the Bruins' defense to be the highlight of this year.
As far as the offense goes, despite the loss of sniper and leading goal scorer Phil Kessel, this offense still has an incredible amount of depth to be dealt with. Marc Savard will undoubtedly be the setup man he always has been, and with Marco Sturm healthy and back in the lineup, expect a lot of connections between the two.
Patrice Bergeron began heating up last year offensively after his injury; if he can get back to his old form and remain a spectacular positional player, the Bruins will likely have a powerhouse of a third line. Look to see Bergeron, Chuck Kobasew, and Mark Recchi each score 20 goals this year.
And, of course, the B's are not lacking a tough man aspect with both Milan Lucic, whose offensive production should also increase, and Sean Thornton backing up the rest of the team, keeping other teams on their toes.
The Bruins' depth is great. A few not mentioned include Michael Ryder, David Kreicji, and Blake Wheeler. Defensively, expect the Bruins to be the best in the NHL at preventing goals, and look for them to be a strong offense without a superstar goal scorer. The Bruins will undoubtedly be a playoff and potentially a Stanley Cup competitor in this upcoming 2009-10 season.