Boston Bruins 2013-2014 Season Preview

boston-bruins

Three months removed from a disheartening Stanley Cup defeat, Boston is raring to kick off the 2013-2014 regular season. We will soon find out how the Bruins reinvigorated roster will fair, as they will be competing in the new look Atlantic Division. The core of the team is now locked up long term. Their perfect mix of veteran experience and youthful energy could seamlessly mesh and result in a return to glory.

Boston saw little roster turnover this past offseason, but the players who did leave captured the headlines. The Bruins swapped out the right side of their top two lines, replacing Tyler Seguin with Loui Eriksson and Nathan Horton with Jarome Iginla.

Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, arguably Boston’s most important pieces, cashed in with multi-year contract extensions. Each guy inked 8-year deals and project to be the franchise players well into the future.

The Bruins may not be the flashiest of teams, but great coaching, organizational depth, unwavering determination, standup leadership and a relentless will to win make them a favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference this year.

Key Additions:

Loui Eriksson, Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith, Chad Johnson

Key Losses:

Andrew Ference, Tyler Seguin, Rich Peverley, Nathan Horton, Anton Khudobin

Iginla, a longtime captain of the Calgary Flames, will most certainly fill the leadership void Ference had filled since joining the Bruins in 2007. Eriksson will quickly prove to be an upgrade over the inconsistencies of Seguin. Smith adds a great deal of bottom six upside and Chad Johnson may not be as experienced as Khudobin, but still should provide serviceable work behind Rask.

Key Bruins:

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Rask in my mind is the most important Bruin. He will be called upon to start at least 60-65 games. It’s his first full year as a starting net minder and is embarking on year one of and 8-year/$56 million contract. Rask showed nothing but greatness this past postseason and rekindling that success over an 82-game schedule is a must because his backups all tote question marks.

Zdeno Chara is another Bruin that makes this team tick. He has looked superhuman at times during his tenure with Boston, although he did show signs of breaking down this past postseason. A healthy Big Z is imperative if the Black and Gold have hopes of making a Stanley Cup appearance. Possibly monitoring his minutes could prove beneficial.

It would be insane not mention Patrice Bergeron as a key Bruin. We saw the Bruins struggle mightily after Bergy sustained injury. He will be relied upon in all key situations and should find immediate chemistry with Eriksson flanking him.

X-Factor:

Dougie Hamilton is poised for a strong season. The youngster is coming off a respectable rookie campaign and his first NHL training camp. He should continue to progress defensively. The offensive numbers will definitely come, as Hamilton figures to be a key component to the Boston power play attack.

Projected Starting Lineup:

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla

Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Jarome Iginla

Carl Soderberg-Chris Kelly-Reilly Smith

Daniel Paille-Gregory Campbell-Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara-Johnny Boychuk

Dennis Seidenberg-Torey Krug

Adam McQuaid-Dougie Hamilton

Tuukka Rask/Chad Johnson

Healthy Scratches:

Jordan Caron, Matt Bartkowski, Kevan Miller

Atlantic Division Teams:

Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers

My Outlook:

6-boston-bruins

The motivating factor behind this year’s team will be the hunger to avenge their Stanley Cup loss to Chicago back in June. Though by no means will it be a cakewalk. Division foes such as Ottawa, Detroit and Toronto have all gotten better and will certainly challenge Boston for the Atlantic Division crown.

Look for Boston’s young defensemen to have breakout showings. Hamilton, Krug and Bartkowski will all get their fair share of ice-time. Coach Julien will expect big things from the promising trio. Their youthful style of play should instill an added spark into an already ramped up approach. But most importantly improve what has been a historic underahcieving power play unit.

Claude Julien may have to manage the minutes for some of his veteran stars from time to time and maybe even throttling it back every once in awhile could do them a lot of good. They head into the season with an improved roster over the 2012-2013 team and are still the class of the Eastern Conference in my eyes.

Frank O’Laughlin-Senior Contributor-Title Town Sports Network

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