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Ready to drop the puck!

Posted By Joe Haggerty On October 9, 2008 @ 5:38 am In General | No Comments

So, I’ll have a full-blown NHL [1] preview up on PWH at some point today, but I just wanted to troll around the Internet and A) see if I could travel all the way to the end of it or B) find as many NHL [2] previews as possible to get a sense of what the “National” sentiment is concerning the Bruins.

I imagine that most hockey experts are in one of two camps when it comes to the guys in the Spoked B’s sweaters: either they feel like the Bruins showed real improvement with a young cast of characters last season and should be better with ever-maturing prospects skating along with a healthy Patrice Bergeron [3]. The other school of thought is that the Bruins overacheived on some level while sneaking into the playoffs, and they won’t be able to sneak up on unsuspecting hockey teams this season like they did last year.

I’m more inclined to go with the former theory that the Bruins are playoff-worthy with tight defense and an aggressive sandpaper style of hockey, but this season they should be a bit more potent offensively with Bergeron on the PP. But that’s just me. Let’s see what everyone else has to say:

ESPN’s John Buccigross [4](who I’ll give full credit to for being one of the few true “hockey guys” in Bristol) has the B’s finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference. An excerpt from his capsule on the Bruins: There is something about this team that I like. I sense a positive vibe around the Bruins that should be enhanced with the return of their best player, Patrice Bergeron. The Bruins have not won a playoff series since 1999, the only series they’ve won since the 1994 lockout. Not the 2004 lockout. They have been a sorry franchise. The Bruins are certainly not a lock to make the postseason, but for the first time in a while, Boston seems to have some organizational passion and a plan. The margin for error is small. The key players need to be healthy, and the young players need to be important players without a drop-off.

The Hockey News [5] has the Bruins finishing tenth in the Eastern Conference: There isn’t much explanation behind their pick on the Hockey News web site, but they see the Bruins finishing ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres [6], Florida Panthers [7], Atlanta Thrashers [8], Toronto Maple Leafs [9] and New York Islanders [10]. This is one prognostication that I would consider the “glass half-emptiest prediction.”

Sports Illustrated [11] picks the Bruins to finish seventh in the East and again qualify for the playoffs while also picking Zdeno Chara [12] as the Northeast Division MVP and Milan Lucic [13] as the division’s “player to watch”: Don’t mistake these Bruins for the bruisers who famously carried the club in the 1970s and ’80s, but this is the Northeast’s most physical team, and Boston should bully its way to a second straight playoff berth.  Boston was 24th in the NHL in goals last season, something the addition of free agent Michael Ryder [14] will help but won’t cure by itself. The Bruins’ real center of attention is mild-mannered pivot Patrice Bergeron (above), who missed all but 10 games of the Bruins’ 18-point revival last season. 

Yahoo Sports Hockey Editor Ross McKeon [15]picked the Bruins third in the Northeast Division, but says they’ll

 be hard-pressed to again make the playoffs (one thing I would say is that he really needs to get over the Joe Thornton [16] trade): The Bruins still miss Joe Thornton, whether they admit it or not. It seems like everything is going to have to go right for Boston to be a solid playoff team, sand considering all the bumps a team faces in the regular season, the guess is the Bruins will be in a dogfight to slip into a playoff spot again. 

CBS Sportsline’s Wes GoldStein [17] has the Bruins finishing second in the Northeast Division and has coach Coach Claude Julien [18] winning the Adams Award this season: The Bruins accelerated their building process with a surprise appearance in the playoffs last season and nearly upsetting Montreal in the first round. The expectations will be higher this time. The best news though for Boston has been the return of Patrice Bergeron, who missed almost all of last season because of a concussion, and has looked very good in the preseason. 

Inside Hockey’s James Murphy [19]has the Bruins finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference and making the playoffs: The Bruins were one of last season’s most pleasant surprises, reverting back to the hard working, bruising style that defined them when the likes of Terry O’Reilly and Cam Neely [20] wore the black and gold with pride. Much like those Bruins icons, sophomore winger Milan Lucic has become one of the faces of the franchise. The biggest additions are three players returning from injuries — center Patrice Bergeron, defenseman Andrew Alberts, and goaltender Manny Fernandez [21] — all of whom could make a huge impact. If Tim Thomas [22] can deliver a repeat performance between the pipes and Fernandez can provide a solid complement, the Bruins are fine in goal, and the Zdeno Chara-led defense is unquestionably stout. The biggest question is whether newcomer Michael Ryder and the returning Bergeron can conspire to make the Bruins’ offense click. 

Fox Sports’ Darren Spang [23]sees the Bruins returning to the playoffs and Spector [24] (apprently rock stars and hockey analysts are in the same boat when it comes to one name monikers) has the Bruins finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference: The return of a healthy Patrice Bergeron at center should provide a significant boost to their offense. A consistent performance this season by goaltender Tim Thomas should bolster the Bruins’ postseason hopes. The improvement of young forwards Phil Kessel [25], Milan Lucic and David Krejci [26] could also boost their forward depth, while head coach Claude Julien’s defensive system should make the Bruins tough to score against. Captain Zdeno Chara is still nursing a shoulder injury from last season and management is on the lookout for another puck-moving defenseman. While some gaps in the roster remain to be addressed, the Bruins appear in better shape this season than they were a year ago.  

Be back in a bit with my own take on the Bruins and the NHL this season…let’s drop the puck already!


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URL to article: http://bigbadblog.weei.com/sports/boston/hockey/bruins/2008/10/09/ready-to-drop-the-puck/

URLs in this post:

[1] NHL: http://media.weei.com/hockey/nhl.htm

[2] NHL: http://media.weei.com/hockey/nhl-hockey.htm

[3] Patrice Bergeron: http://media.weei.com/hockey/patrice-bergeron.htm

[4] ESPN’s John Buccigross : http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/preview2008/columns/story?columnist=buccigross_john&id=3629979

[5] The Hockey News: http://www.thehockeynews.com/articles/17901-The-Hockey-News-200809-regular-season-predictions.html

[6] Buffalo Sabres: http://media.weei.com/hockey/buffalo-sabres.htm

[7] Florida Panthers: http://media.weei.com/hockey/florida-panthers.htm

[8] Atlanta Thrashers: http://media.weei.com/hockey/atlanta-thrashers.htm

[9] Toronto Maple Leafs: http://media.weei.com/hockey/toronto-maple-leafs.htm

[10] New York Islanders: http://media.weei.com/hockey/new-york-islanders.htm

[11] Sports Illustrated: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/hockey/nhl/10/07/northeast/index.html

[12] Zdeno Chara: http://media.weei.com/hockey/zdeno-chara.htm

[13] Milan Lucic: http://media.weei.com/hockey/milan-lucic.htm

[14] Michael Ryder: http://media.weei.com/hockey/michael-ryder.htm

[15] Yahoo Sports Hockey Editor Ross McKeon : http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/news;_ylt=Av9TQGhFJnB6EyRzwMjzcWh7vLYF?slug=rm-bruinspreview090308&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

[16] Joe Thornton: http://media.weei.com/hockey/joe-thornton.htm

[17] CBS Sportsline’s Wes GoldStein: http://www.sportsline.com/nhl/preview/expertpicks

[18] Claude Julien: http://media.weei.com/hockey/claude-julien.htm

[19] Inside Hockey’s James Murphy : http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/pgStory?contentId=8627136#sport=NHL&photo=8626398

[20] Cam Neely: http://media.weei.com/hockey/cam-neely.htm

[21] Manny Fernandez: http://media.weei.com/hockey/manny-fernandez.htm

[22] Tim Thomas: http://media.weei.com/hockey/tim-thomas.htm

[23] Fox Sports’ Darren Spang : http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-us&brand=foxsports&vid=3ca73bcc-542d-49ec-a140-0a2acd61d2df&playlist=&editor=&from=FOXSPORTS&fg=/nhl/story/8634408/Darren-Pang

[24] Spector: http://msn.foxsports.com/nhl/story/8628632

[25] Phil Kessel: http://media.weei.com/hockey/phil-kessel.htm

[26] David Krejci: http://media.weei.com/hockey/david-krejci.htm

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