2013-14 NHL Season Preview: Boston Bruins

2013 Boston Bruins

The following is a guest post from David MacKenzie, avid Bruins fan and college club ice hockey player. Originally from Massachusetts,  Dave has played hockey since age two, and has won state and national championships.

After a successful shortened season coming off the lockout, the Boston Bruins are looking to bounce back after a hard fought loss in game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. After finishing second in the northeast division, the Bruins marched all the way to the Finals and lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, who at the beginning of the season seemed like they couldn’t lose.

During the off season B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli made a few blockbuster moves, including dealing the number two overall pick, Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars. Many fans were excited by the trade and others questioned the GM saying that it was “too soon” to trade the young Seguin after he has proven he can be an elite goal scorer in this league. Only time will tell who was able to get the better deal during the trade, but a lot of people are already thinking the Bruins will be better off. During the off season backup Anton Khudobin decided to test the market and landed a contract down in Carolina playing backup to Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner Cam Ward. The team and fans should hold no ill will towards Anton since he was a great goaltender and deserves to play a more important role in an organization that will better utilize him. Another loss which will hurt not only the Bruins but the Boston community as a whole is the departure of long time defenseman Andrew Ference. Ference came to the B’s as part of a trade from Calgary seven years ago and not only helped lead the Bruins to the cup finals twice, but helped the team raise the Holy Grail of hockey for the first time in 39 years. His off ice contributions to the community will also be sorely missed in the city and community as Ference was always willing to “go the extra mile” for fans and people who may just need a smile. We wish the former B’s nothing but luck in their respective cities and endeavors and thank them for their contribution to the organization.

During that blockbuster trade in which we departed with Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, the Bruins were able to acquire the sharp shooting right winger Loui Eriksson as well as strong minor league prospects. Eriksson is a proven goal scorer who has a similar playing style to the Bruins assistant captain and fan favorite Patrice Bergeron, which should excite Bruins fans for a long time. Think of Patrice, but with a stronger goal scoring touch and you have Loui Eriksson, which should make for an interesting season having two such strong defensive forwards with that kind of offensive touch on the ice together. Stay tuned to find out how that works out. The free agent market was also kind to the Bruins even with the departures of Khudobin, Ference, and Jagr. The Bruins were finally able to sign Jarome Iginla, yes for real this time. Peter Chiarelli made sure to take care of the current Bruin favorites first signing Tuukka Rask and Patrice Bergeron both to 8 year contract extensions. That means two major pieces from both of the Bruins Stanley Cup Finals teams will be Bruins until they are almost 40, and it is a strong possibility those two will retire wearing the black and gold spoked B. With the additions of Iginla and Eriksson the black and gold should have no issues replacing the offensive fire power lost by Nathan Horton’s and Tyler Seguin’s departure.

The Bruins have two key new pieces on offense, the aforementioned Iginla and Eriksson. The lines should look reasonably familiar at the start of the season, assuming Claude Julien simply plugs his new pieces into the slots vacated by Jagr, Horton, Peverley, and Seguin. If he does that, the lines would likely look like Lucic-Krejci-Iginla, Marchand-Bergeron-Eriksson, Thornton-Campbell-Paille, and last but not least Soderberg-Kelly- and the player to be named later. The team returns almost the same roster which made it to game six last season, and the only question mark, similarly to last year, is the third line right wing spot. Assuming that the team can lock down a right wing to play with Kelly and Soderberg, logic would lead you to believe that the Bruins are in a good position to make another run at the cup.

Defensively the Bruins return the same core group of players minus Andrew Ference. The obvious choices or the team are the returning mainstays, McQuaid, Boychuk, Seidenberg, Chara of course, and then it gets interesting. With the playoff performances of the younger talent who had been buried in Providence and Dougie Hamilton’s lack-luster play down the stretch, it seems pretty open for those last two spots on the dressing roster. Logic points to Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton, and Matt Bartkowski making the roster (like during the playoffs) and playing when Claude feels they have earned it and rotating somehow. We should not count out players like former Boston University standout and homegrown product David Warsofsky who made the club at the start of last season but saw little to no action. Although the defense is not set in stone, it is nothing that B’s fans should worry about.

Tuukka Rask - Boston BruinsAfter a good season and a killer playoff run Tuukka Rask has shown he is the goalie of the present and future. Peter Chiarelli agreed and signed Tuukka to an 8 year contract worth $56 million dollars. Tuukka will make $7 million a year making him the highest paid goalie in the NHL at the moment. As mentioned earlier Anton Khudobin left the Bruins and went south to the Hurricanes so that leaves the backup position open. The team went out and signed free agent goalies Adam Morrison and Chad Johnson to add more competition to an already deep position. The B’s drafted Malcolm Subban in the first round, 24th overall during the 2012 entry draft. Rounding out the backup hopefuls is Niklas Svedberg, a young swed who the Bruins signed as a free agent in May of 2012. The general consensus is that Johnson or Svedberg will be the backup to Tuukka while Morrison and Subban gain valuable professional experience down in Providence. How ever it shakes out, the team will still have a young but veteran starting between the pipes, who can help be a mentor to the backup.

Having a roster full of players who not only have NHL playoff experience but have Stanley Cup Finals experience is something most teams dream of and the Bruins have. Many of the players on the current roster are already immortal in the hockey world by already having their names etched into Lord Stanley. That is a great position to be in. With a full regular season and a normal off season, the Bruins should be considered a preseason playoff team. Based off previous work, they should have home ice secured for at least the first round, but that is assuming they play to their potential. Don’t be surprised if the B’s fail to make another deep playoff run. It is not an easy thing to do back to back years. Having said that, with the off season Chicago had, the possibility of another Boston vs Chicago Stanley Cup Finals is a very real thing. That is the beauty of this sport we love so much. Anything can happen on any given night, which is why we show up and play the games. Look for the Bruins to be a strong competitive team for years to come if they stay healthy and hungry.

Stay tuned for more as the season goes on, thank you for reading, and enjoy the season everyone.

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