2009-2010 Bruins Highlights

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October 12, 2010

Thoughts from the Opening Weekend

Well it was an interesting weekend in Prague to say the least.  I am sure glad that will be the last of the games that are on at 11AM.  For a team that is thought by many to be a serious contender this season, the Bruins didn't waste any time reminding fans of how awful they can play as they did in the second half of the Philadelphia series.  On Saturday, after being outplayed and out hustled for 2 periods the Bruins turned it on in the 3rd period of the 5-2 loss and carried that momentum into Sunday's 3-0 shutout.  They looked like 2 completely different teams, and for the sake of all of the Bruins faithful, lets hope that second team shows up more often than not.

Here is a recap of some of the events that happened in Prague over the last week.

B's Extend Bergeron and Chara:  After having a successful off-season this summer, Chiarelli and Co. didn't waste anytime getting to work on next year's agenda by locking up the two biggest upcoming Free Agents on the roster.  These signings show me two things.  First, by signing both these players the Bruins will continue to be a defense first club.  Chara shows no signs of slowing down, so I don't mind the extension for 7 years, but would have been ok seeing 2 or so less years.  The Bergeron signing was a good deal for the Bruins as well.  He may not command that much on the open market, but for a team that values multi-faceted forwards, especially centers, the Bruins couldn't afford to let Patrice test the open market.  Secondly, and most importantly, these signings along with other recent extensions mean that the core Bruins players are going to be locked up for at least the next 3 seasons for what hopes to be multiple cup runs.  Savard, Lucic, Bergeron, Chara, Seidenberg, Seguin and Horton are all going to be wearing the black and gold for those 3 years.  Krejci and Rask will most likely continue to be in Boston, but the rest of the supporting cast can be overhauled by bringing in new talent or promoting from within.  This off season Ryder, Sturm, Recchi and even Wheeler (restricted) will all be Free Agents providing Chiarelli with ample amount of room to make key acquisitions on the wing.

McGrattan Inks 1 year Deal:  He isn't going to change the face of the organization, but he is certainly worth the price of admission.  I am not going to try to hide the fact that I enjoy fighting in hockey.  It is probably the only sport that allows the players to police themselves to some extent and that has always appealed to me.  McGrattan is one of the best heavyweights around so I was definitely intrigued when he was brought into camp this year.  I only expect him to be around once in awhile, but since he is on a 2-way contract I will certainly be sure to check out his work in Providence this year.  To me, this move has Cam Neely written all over it.

Return on Investments:  The much anticipated debuts of both Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin did not disappoint.  Horton went off this weekend scoring 3 goals and 1 assist.  He looks at home with Krejci and Lucic as that combination accounted for 4 out of the 5 goals this weekend.  The other goal was of course the work and speed of Tyler Seguin as he was able to bury a breakaway goal.  Surely that first goal has lifted a lot of pressure and will go along way to boost Seguin's confidence.  They both have done what they were brought here to do, and seeing that this early in the season is a great sign of things to come.

Thomas/Rask-  I wouldn't look too far into the move to start Thomas over Rask on Sunday.  Yes, Rask gave up 4 goals but he also had to face a ton of shots including a few breakaways.  The score could have been much worse if he wasn't up to the task.  I think the switch to Thomas for game 2 was more of a move to get both goalies on track and in the lineup early in the season.  It was a very reassuring sight to have Thomas return to his old form.

Early Season Test: For me, one of the keys to the Bruins season this year is how quickly they start and can find their game.  Last season saw the B's stumble out of the gate at home and never seemed to get things going.  This season, however, the B's spent/will spend some time on the road to get things started, which can go a long way to develop the chemistry needed.  In facing Phoenix (2x), New Jersey and Washington(2x) to start the season, the Bruins are going to be tested early against playoff opponents.  How they fare during this tough stretch could help define this year's team and set the tone and pace going forward.

Bruins Powerplay- Going a combined 1-8 on the man advantage over the weekend is not going to cut it this year.  Simply put, the Bruins need to score on the power play.  While Savard should be able to help ease the pain, it still is unknown how long he will be out for.  The B's need to quickly fix this or else we are in for a repeat of last year.

Providence Recap:  I was at the game on Friday and it was a great crowd on hand, over 10,400 which was 3rd in attendance in the AHL for opening night.  But that is where the good news ends.  P Bruins looked solid in the first period as they controlled most of the action but then gave up 4 goals in the second period (3 within 5 minutes).  Really, no one looked good during this game especially the power play as they gave up 2 shorthanded goals.  Providence has a lot of youth on the team, and it definitely showed on Friday losing 5-1.  However, youth was forgotten the next night as Max Sauve led the team to a 6-5 win over Springfield as he recorded a hat trick.  Sauve was impressive with his speed both within camp and during the game Friday.  Hopefully he can continue that momentum forward.  3 games this weekend...Worcester Sharks come to the Dunk on Sunday.

September 27, 2010

Thoughts from Saturday Night's Game

First off, what a great feeling to be able to see a Bruins game on NESN.  The wait is now over.  Jack Edwards and Andy Brinkley are now back and hockey season is right around the corner.  Watching the game on an HDTV was a huge upgrade over the streaming feeds I have struggled with for the previous two preseason games. 

With camp winding down and now 3 games under their belts we are now starting to get a better feel for the new players in camp and the Bruins roster.  Although Saturday night ended in a loss, there were a lot of positives to take from the game.  First off, Steven Kampfer has looked tremendous, especially in this last game against Florida.  He spent time alongside Chara both as a pair and on the power play.  He has shown good puck moving skills in the offensive zone, a decent shot from the point and he has been aggressive on the attack.  He has also shown some good speed and now can be considered right in the mix for that last D pair/7th defense men.  Florida was playing a lot of their projected starters so it wasn't like he was matched up against scrubs.  I really like the way Bartowski looked during the rookie games, but Kampfer is slightly ahead of him in my opinion.  If both Kampfer and Bartwoski don't make the NHL roster, they will join Alexandrov in Providence this year giving the baby B's a solid group of young defense men to watch develop.  Speaking of Alexandrov, he really struggled on the ice Saturday and can definitely use next year in the AHL to develop some skills.  He made a few bad decisions that ended up in turnovers.  He really does have excellent skating ability.  Give him a year to adjust to the North American game and over come the language barrier and he should round into a solid defensive prospect.

How good has Spooner looked!  He has shown some great chemistry with Sauve (who is no longer on the NHL roster) with breakouts into the offensive zone.  He is playing way beyond his age so far and has been rewarded by Julien for his standout efforts with extra ice time and a chance in the shootout.  He is quickly becoming a fan favorite with bellowing chants of SPOOOONER!  While most of the talk in camp was about the young guns Seguin, Caron and Colbourne, Spooner has been the standout for me in regards to performance vs expectation.  If you remember, Boston traded their first round pick for Horton and only had an early second round pick which they used to draft Spooner who wasn't projected to go until much later.  If he makes the NHL team or even comes back next year he is looking like a steal.

If you didn't have a hockey pulse on Sunday you certainly were brought to life with the Milan Lucic pounding of Tristan Grant.  Looch had a rough year last season with injuries and understandably was not the same scrapper he had built his reputation on.  Clearly, this bout announces his return.  Granted, Looch's role is going to be much more important and expanded than the occasional scrap but it was a great sign to see him stand up for Horton.  I think you are going to see a lot more of that this season from Boston in regards to protecting their stars.  Krecji, Bergeron, Savard, Horton and Seguin should all be guarded by the likes of Lujcic, Stuart and Thornton regularly.  Obviously fighting is not the most important aspect of the game, but for a team that needs to establish both its chemistry and physical presence within the game a decisive win like the one on Saturday night will go a long way to do both.

Speaking of brawlers, I have been pleasantly surprised by the play of Brian McGrattan.  He was a surprise addition to the preseason roster but has done well in the preseason action.  He isn't going to be asked to score goals or put up any sort of offensive numbers.  But he has been a presence in front of the net and checking on the ice.  For an enforcer, he has also shown good skating skills.  I don't think he will be spending regular time in Boston but maybe he will be on the roster while both Sturm and Savard are on long term injured reserve.  If not, I think the Bruins will hang onto him in Providence, which will certainly mean the Dunkin Donut Center will be host to some brutal fights this season.  To me, I think this move has Neely written all over it as with the other moves involving Reich, McIver and even Horton.  Thorton is most likely going to be the one tough guy in Boston regularly, but McGrattan will certainly be called upon against certain foes.  The Atlantic Division seriously added some heavyweights this season, and with having to play each of those teams 4 times it may take a toll on the smaller Thorton.  Here are the enforcers in the Atlantic Division:

Islanders: Zenon Konopka
Rangers: Derek Boogaard, Brandon Prust, Aaron Voros
Flyers: Jody Shelley, The Rat, Ian Laperriere
Pittsburgh: Eric Godard, Aaron Asham

And we still will have Colton Orr to deal with within the division.  Matching up against some of these teams will be exhausting for the likes of Thorton and Lucic so McGrattan will most likely be called upon to be an insurance policy or and extra on ice policemen during games where it is going to be rough and likely to be fighting.  He certainly can handle himself and should become a favorite of those who frequent the garden this winter. 

September 22, 2010

Bruins vs Habs

Montreal decided this off-season to trade goaltender Jaroslav Halak to St. Louis and all they got in return was a whole lotta Blues and boos.  On the first night of fall and the first night of the 2010-2011 season it didn't take long for the Montreal fans to turn cold on Carey Price as he let in 3 first period goals in only 5 shots.  While the B's didn't pepper the net in the opening period, I will certainly take 60% for a shooting percentage any day of the week.  While Price looked shaky in the first period, his counterpart at the other end of the rink picked up just where he left off last year.  Rask was solid through 2 periods even after letting in 2 goals late in the 2nd period.  The Habs kept knocking on the door in the 3rd but couldn't get it done.

The following are my notes/thoughts as I watched the game.  It was pretty hard to see the numbers of the players on the live feed since the quality was bad, but it was great to see the B's on the ice again.

Pregame- National Anthem audio cut out half way through and Canadiens fans started cheering loudly.  Classy.

1st Period-
Rask denies a breakaway opportunity
Horton marks his Boston debut in high fashion...scores on a wrister from face off dot and beats Price near side..just what he was brought here for.
Jordan Caron is impressive on his skates.  Also isn't afraid to give the body
Tuukka has been tested early...good control of his rebounds
Defense is shaky to start the game... down 9-3 on shots in the first 10 mins.  New pairings/communication most likely the cause
McQuaid has been solid in the corners punishing anyone who comes down there
Sauve used his speed on the rush to draw first PP
Right off the first face off of PP, puck dropped to Boychuk and he buries a slap shot from the point on a screened Price
Paile with a great rush down the left side and a drop pass to Bergeron.  Bergeron with a nice move to backhand...3 goals on 5 shots.
Second PP... never got it going..not a good PP

2nd Period-
Bruins go on PK
Great fore check by Bergeron and he forces a turnover.  On the breakaway goes backhand to forehand, slams on the brakes and puts it home.  His second of the night
Insane save by Rask on a one timer in close...full stretch to deny the opportunity.  Has been solid all night.  Really controlling the rebounds.
Price is being taken out at the 10 minute mark...9 shots on goal...4 goals allowed...ouch!
First fight of the night.  McQuaid vs Conboy- easy win for McQuaid as he takes him down.  Conboy takes a shot with his back on the ice, McQuaid answers with a big shot.. gets an extra 2.
Didn't get to see MON first goal...shorthanded
Second goal came on a 4-2... good feed from to wing and beats Rask trying for the stacked pad save

3rd Period
Seguin has been quiet but has looked good with strong drives to the net
Bruins on PK-Rask making a great set of saves
Horton delivered a great shift...2 big hits to Neely's delight
Bruins are having trouble getting it out of their own zone for 2 straight shifts
Bergeron has looked great in the offensive zone.  Great puck control and movement
I like Spooner more and more every time I see him.  He has great speed and isn't afraid to get right in front or in the corner.  Glad Bruins went up and grabbed him in the 2nd round this year.
Where has Blake Wheeler been? 
And there he is... hits the post on an open net.... here we go again.
FINAL BOS - 4 MON -  2

Rask was unbelievable tonight.  It is going to be very hard for Thomas to win back the starting job this year. I don't think Wheeler's name was even called until the final minute when he missed the open net.  Boychuck and Seidenberg looked pretty good.  Seguin did record an assist in his first game on the Boychuk goal.

September 13, 2010

The Tuukka Thomas Tandem

Say that five times fast!

Entering this season, the Bruins have arguably the best 1-2 tandem in all of the NHL, and I hesitate to label them as a 1-2 tandem. Clearly, there is going to be a competition in camp for the number 1 spot. Rask may be the favorite to take the top spot based on his performance last season. Rask started every game in the playoffs last year as the Bruins clearly decided to go with Rask down the stretch and in the playoffs. Some of that might be attributed to the fact that Thomas was injured, so with a clean bill of health Thomas could challenge Rask again for the spot.

Anyone who knows me and talks hockey with me regularly knows how much I have dogged the Bruins for the Thomas contract. The extension was a bit much for an older goalie who was rewarded for past performance. Bruins fans were looking forward to the day this off season when Thomas was moved for a forward or d-man. However, the free agent goalie market was littered with talent like Turco, Ellis and Niemi to name a few, and so the price tag for Thomas was too high and the market never truly materialized as many thought it would. Now, Bruins fans should be thankful that Thomas was not traded. I will admit, I was all for moving Tim, but as the summer moved on, I began to think how important it was to keep Thomas on the roster.

Thomas didn't have a bad year last season, but when you are coming off the Veizna Trophy expectations tend to be much higher. Thomas' numbers were still solid (2.56 GAA, SV% .915) but without offensive support, he suffered a 17-18 record. If he had offensive support, he would have potentially put up much better numbers. Take these goalies for example:
Chicago: Huet - GAA 2.50 26W 14L
LA Kings: Quick - GAA 2.54 39W 24L
Nashville: Rinne - GAA 2.53 32W 16L
Vancouver: Luongo - GAA 2.57 40W 22L
Pitt: Fleury - GAA 2.65 37W 21L

With an improved offense this year, both Rask and Thomas should have the ability to put up some great numbers and records. The expectations for Rask entering the season are much like those that Thomas experienced last year, which to me are going to be much too high. Look, its no secret that Rask had an incredible season last year putting up league leading numbers in both GAA and SV%. I expect him to be the starter as the team makes the trip to Prague, but I think you are going to see a pretty balanced slate this year in terms of starts. Rask struggled in the second half of the Philly series and he readily admitted that he was wearing down. He is going to be a phenomenal NHL goalie, but there isn't the need to rush him into that position especially with Thomas on the roster. I think the starts will be split 46 to 36 in favor of Rask. Thomas has been very professional in taking a back seat to Rask in both the season and playoffs, and I expect the same from him this year. Would he like to be the number 1 in Boston? Absolutely. But I think he also understands the role he will be given on the roster and how he can help contribute both on the ice and with the development of TUUKKA.

Regardless, the Bruins have much to look forward to in net with a rising star in Rask and a cagey veteran insurance policy in Thomas.

September 7, 2010

Bruins by the Numbers

I always find it interesting to look at a current player in any professional league and see where he was drafted.  Often times it is quite surprising to see how a player has performed based on his selection.  So I thought it would be interesting to look at the Bruins current/projected roster to see where each current player was drafted.  It is particularly hard to project NHL prospects, so some of these might be pretty interesting.  (Look at Chara, Savard and Recchi...and Krejci seems like a steal for where he was drafted.)


          1995     4th Round     91st overall     NYR
          2003     2nd Round    45th overall     BOS
          2002     3rd Round     67th overall     FLA
          2004     2nd Round     63rd overall    BOS
          2010     1st Round      2nd overall      BOS
          1997      9th Round     233rd overall  PHO


         2006       2nd Round    50th overall     BOS
          2002       1st Round     20th overall     BUF
          1997       2nd Round    39th overall     CHI
          1996       1st Round      21st overall     SAN
           2003      1st Round       3rd overall      FLA
            1988      4th Round      67th overall     PIT
            1998      8th Round     216th overall   MON
             1997     7th Round     190th overall   TOR
              2004     1st Round     5th overall      PHO      


               2002     2nd Round     61st overall     COL
               1996      3rd Round     56th overall     NYI
               1997      8th Round     208th overall    PIT
                2004      7th Round    224th overall    BOS  
                2005      2nd Round    55th overall     CLS
                2001       6th Round     172nd overall  PHI
                2003       1st Round      21st overall     BOS


                 2005       1st Round      21st overall     TOR
                 1994       9th Round      217th overall   QUE      

Defensive Pairings

A few days ago, I posted a possible break out for line combinations this year for the Boston Bruins and the forwards.  Here is how I think the defensive pairings are going to be broken out this year.

1) Chara - Seidenberg

Chara is a no brainer here obviously as he is one of the most dominant defensive players in the game.  His size and power intimidate opposing forwards and the combination of his wing span and poke check easily can clog the passing lanes and interrupt any potential scoring chances.  Chara had a rocky season last year after suffering an injury to his pinky finger which interfered with his grip while shooting and his willingness to impose himself physically on other teams.  With the summer to help it heal, Chara is hoping to have full use of the finger which will help him deliver his powerful slap shots on net once again.  Seidenberg is the clear favorite to be paired with Chara as the combination had a very successful but short stint together last season.  Coming off a contract extension, Seidenberg has to prove he was worth the $3.25 million he is being paid this season.  In Seidenberg, the Bruins have a player that fits in nicely with Chara as a complimentary player who is defensively sound but can also chip in offensively as well.  In the last 2 seasons, Seidenberg has set career highs in both points and average time on ice, so the upside on the defender is in favor of the Bruins as he enters the prime of his career.  Last year the Derek Morris experiment didn't go according to plan, but with the sample we got to see last year, the top line D pair is going to be a very effective weapon for the Bruins in the 2010 - 2011 season. 

2) Boychuk - Stuart

I was extremely excited to hear that Boston would be bringing back both Boychuk and Stuart this season.  Both have spent time coming up in the Bruins system, especially Stuart, and both players are fan favorites and for good reason.  By putting these two players on the same line you will most certainly see some of the biggest and exciting hits.  Take a look at this one from Stuart and these two gems from Johnny Boychuk (Ellis Hit , Stajan Hit).  Look, I never like to see a player injured, but its legal and clean hits like this that help define you as a hockey team...something Boston struggled to do last year.  Putting these two players together will help to set the tone, and when they are paired with Lucic's line...watch out.  Stuart finds himself returning to Boston after an injury plagued season last year which made it hard for him to get in a rhythm.  Coming into camp healthy and staying healthy will only allow Stuart to continue to develop as he is still a relatively young defender as he will be only 26 to start the season.  I love the way that Stuart plays on the ice and he brings a consistent effort night in and night out.  I think the Bruins are looking at a future leader in Stuart, and could potentially lock him up long term based on his performance this year.  Boychuk is another young defender who the Bruins will be looking for him to step up and continue to develop.  Last year, Boychuk had to wait in order to get a chance to see the ice in Boston, but once he had the opportunity, he was a mainstay on the blue line for the remainder of the year.  He also missed sometime due to a fractured orbital bone thanks to taking a slap shot to the face.  In the playoffs is where Boychuk really came to life in being paired with Chara and logging nearly 26mins of ice time each game!  He is not afraid of throwing his body around both on the glass and in front of the crease to block shots.  It is that kind of reckless abandon that will both help his ice time and popularity with the Bruins faithful to continue to grow.  Boychuk has incredible power on his slap shot, and if he can focus on increasing his accuracy this year, he can be an effective weapon from the point.  I think Boychuk might even be able to be paired with Chara on the top line if needed.  It might even work out better with a Seidenberg-Stuart line so that both of the developing D men have a NHL veteran to play alongside them. 

3) Hunwick/McQuaid - Ference

There isn't much talk going on about the positional battle that I expect to see between Hunwick and McQuaid for the final D spot on the roster.  The Bruins cap problems have been well diagnosed and discussed, and Hunwick carries a $1.4 mil cap hit as opposed to McQuaid's $.575 cap hit...a savings of almost $900,000.  While it won't fix the problem, it may be a piece of the puzzle that the Bruins can consider when trying to become cap compliant.  Hunwick has certainly had his struggles with his time in Boston.  At 5'10 and 187lbs, he is a smaller defender who relies on his speed to counteract the opponents offensive rush.  Last year, whether it was inconsistency in line pairings or just a regression, Hunwick just wasn't nearly as effective as he had been in 2008-2009.  While this is his last year under contract, Hunwick will be looking to have a solid campaign in order to remain in Boston.  McQuaid has the size that Hunwick is lacking as he is listed at 6'4 and 197 but has little when it comes to NHL experience.  Last year was his first season in Boston, and in the 19 games he saw action in, we got a glimpse at a defensive project who might be ready to be a full time Bruin this year.  Having a 2 way contract as opposed to Hunwick having a 1 way contract might help McQuaid in the argument to start him in Boston.  I am hesitant to have both Ference and Hunwick on the same line as they are both undersized.  With the tight leash that Hunwick should find himself on this training camp, it wouldn't be surprising to me to see McQuaid take that last spot.  I am still questioning the contract extension the Bruins handed out to the oft-injured Ferrence this year.  In fact, if I remember correctly, he was given the extension while he was currently injured....to me it just doesn't add up.  I know the Bruins have him projected as a 2nd pair defense men  but I just don't think he will be healthy enough and consistently productive to be placed here.  He is a gritty player who plays smart and controlled with nothing flashy in his game.  That's not a negative, but he just isn't someone to get overly excited about.  I do like the leadership he can/could bring to the team and I think we will really need to see that from him this year.  He can log a lot of minutes on the ice, so he may make that 2nd pair this year...I just would like to see that time given to Stuart or Boychuk instead. 

September 3, 2010

On the Line

With training camp just weeks away all the pieces of the puzzle seem to have fallen into place to set the Bruin's 2009-2010 roster. A busy and exciting off-season has us all anxious to get things going. With the new additions, there almost certainly will be some shifts in the lines for the upcoming season. Clearly, this is all speculation but here is how I see the lines shaking out next year. What is important to understand is how Julien likes to rotate the top 3 lines, so I don't see a huge difference between the 2nd-3rd lines as an argument came be made in either direction. Honestly, I have no idea what PC will do once Sturm returns, so I am not even going to touch that topic yet. Your guess is as good as mine.

1) Wheeler-Savard-Horton

Yea, you heard it right. It was shocking to me as well, but its more out of necessity as opposed to Wheeler being a first line player, and you will see what I mean by this in a moment. Clearly, Horton and Savard have the potential to propel the B's offense back to top of the league. In Savard, Horton finally has an All-Star caliber center to play with after having played in hockey hell for the first portion of his career. Horton is a scorer with a big frame being listed at 6'2 and 229lbs. He can play both as a sniper, setup man and power forward, so his versatility is going to go a long ways in providing Savard both the room to operate and the ability to put points on the board. Where Wheeler falls in is a bit different of a story. While he is listed as a RW, Wheeler has spent the majority of his time on the LW as a Bruin, so he should be plenty comfortable out there. Wheeler also has a large frame at 6'5 and 205lbs but clearly doesn't use his body nearly as much as he should. With that being said, Wheeler has acknowledged a need to become more physical this season, and in doing so, he would fit perfectly on a line that also features another big scorer. Wheeler slumped at times last year, but if he is surrounded by the likes of Savard and Horton he is certainly going to be given more opportunities to score. Let's face it, this is a make or break year for Wheeler... so put him in the spotlight to start and see how he responds. If this line gels, you have viable scoring options on both wings, which may let Savard have more room to operate, freeing him to look for his shot more often.

2) Lucic - Krejci - Seguin

I think this second line has the ability to be crazy good. I was a bit hesitant to put Seguin on the 2nd line, but if he is going to be the offensive threat we all expect him to be, he has to be paired with Krejci. Krejci simply sees things on the ice that other players just don't see. He can sniff out opportunities as he has the ability to envision them developing. At times, its almost magical how he finds an open player or a seam to put the puck into. I seriously debated putting Lucic on the top line, and that most certainly could be the case, but I like him here better and here is why. In Seguin, the Bruins have a young, talented player who is going to be the face of the franchise and needs to be protected like it. With almost 100% certainty I can say that teams will take their shots at Seguin as he is welcomed to the league. Sure, a majority of the time Thornton will be called upon to address the issue, but Thornton will only be on the ice with Seguin rarely if ever. That is why it is important to have someone on the ice that can keep other teams in check. Just the threat of having to answer to Looch should be enough to thwart any would be agitators. In addition to the protection, Looch will help open the ice for both Seguin and Krejci and provide a big body in front to screen the goaltender. The return of Milan Lucic to his 2008-2009 form will go a long way to determine how successful this team can be this year. With the hands and raw skill set Seguin brings, Krejci could have a new best friend for the season.

3) Recchi-Bergeron-Ryder

I love watching Bergeron and Recchi play together. They have grown to compliment each other so well over the past 2 seasons. Bergeron is the team's best 2-way player with Recchi a close second. Together, they are a great on the defensive end but also have the ability to score. Bergeron is deadly in the face off circle, and is really effective on the back check. His offensive numbers returned last year, and if they continue to swell, he will be one of the elite 2-way centers in the league. Recchi continues to play larger then his 5'10 195lb size should allow him to. The image that remains with me is his show down with Pronger in the playoffs. Recchi always seems to find himself in the right place at the right time for rebounds, deflections and loose pucks....which isn't luck but comes with experience. While Bergeron is not the traditional set up center man, he doesn't necessarily need to be on this line as both Recchi and Ryder can put shots on net accurately on their own. Now Ryder's struggles last year have been well documented and discussed, and as bad as he was last year, the upside for him is huge. If Ryder can find his shot again this year, he can easily be a 20+ goal scorer in the league. I also like this combination because Ryder's accuracy combined with Recchi's ability to deflect shots could be an effective and frustrating combination for opposing goalies.

4) Paille - Campbell -Thornton

Don't expect this group to break the bank with excessive point production, but nevertheless, they are an important part of the Bruins overall line combination. Paille has been an integral part of the penalty kill ever since he arrived from Buffalo last year. He is a small, speedy wing but lacks offensive punch. Campbell was also brought in to help on the PK this season as the player to replace Steve Begin. By having both of these players on the 4th line, you can lower their time on ice so that they will be fresher for the PK. Thornton's skill set obviously lies within his hands, and I am not talking about his puck handling ability. Obviously he would like to contribute more offensively, but he is mainly in Boston for one reason: to hand out punishment when necessary. He is one of the best in the game at this, and has thus become a fan favorite in his time here in Boston. Always towards the top of the league in PIM, Thornton should be especially active this season as discussed earlier with the addition of Seguin. Sean was rewarded this season with a nice contract, but its one helluva a way to earn a living. What I do like best about Thornton is that even as an enforcer, he isn't a liability as he plays solid defense, is good with the body, and doesn't take stupid penalties. Paille may see a jump up to the 3rd line throughout the year depending upon how Ryder performs.

Now in terms of lines, you may see Colbourne, Caron, Reich and possibly even Marchand thrown into the mix on the 3rd and 4th lines come opening day. What really will determine that is how the players perform in camp and if there are any injuries, something no one can predict. A young player might also get the chance to play on the wing if Ryder is traded or kept in Providence.

So there you have it. My take on the lines. I am sure there are a ton of different opinions out there, so lets hear them.

Officially 2 weeks to camp.

GO B's

Ahead of the Crowd

By now you have probably heard that individual game tickets will be going on sale for the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins season on Sept 10th at 11AM, but there is a way for you to beat the crowds so you can be certain to get the seats and games you want.

The below link will take you to the Bruins Cybear registration page; the official online newsletter for the Bruins. Simply by signing up, you will gain pre-sale access to order tickets for next year. By joining, you will be emailed a password next Wednesday, and then can use that password to buy your tickets on September 9th at Noon. Cybear Registration

Hope this helps you get the tickets you want... and if you end up with an extra one, remember who gave you the heads up!

August 31, 2010

Savard Rumors Round 2

It has been a tough six months for Marc Savard. First, his head is almost violently removed from his body by a blatant dirty hit. Then his teammates fail to respond. After working back into hockey form, Savard sparks the Bruins to an exciting win in the opeing game of the Flyer's series only to fall victim of the worst hockey collapse in recent memory. And that's when the trade rumors began for the Bruin's leading playmaker and scorer.

It was shocking to me to hear the rumors surface around the trade deadline. While most rumors tend to hold no weight, the Savard rumor seemed imminent at various times. There were just too many outlets reporting that the Bruins center was on the market. Now if you have been reading this blog since I started, you know how I feel about Savard and how I felt about the rumors earlier this summer. After rumors died down after the draft, I let out a sigh of relief while Savard let the media in Canada know how he was hurt by the thought of being dealt. Can you blame him? Savard had just signed long term in Boston for a discounted price and risked injury by rushing back to help in the playoffs while still recovering from a serious head shot. Savy wants to be in Boston; he wants to help finish what he started by delivering a Cup to Boston. Now with Nathan Horton at his disposal, Savard had reason to be excited about the upcoming season.

Unfortunately, those ugly and unfortunate trade rumors have resurfaced once again as a source close to the team says the Bruins are still "actively shopping." While something has to be done to provide cap room, this shouldn't be the move the Bruins make. By trading Savard, that would mean the B's think Krecji is ready to be a top line center and it would also put Seguin as the 3rd line center and potentially give him work as the center on the second power play unit. While Savard would certainly bring more in return in a trade than Ryder, having 3 solid centers is a formula that shouldn't be abandoned as it seemed to work well for Pittsburgh last season.

What worries me is that the rumors resurfacing this close to the start of training camp might make it that much harder for Savard to return to Boston. While such is the plight of a professional athlete, constantly hearing your name floated around can be disheartening and discouraging. Could this second round of trade rumors spell the end of Savard? It definetly can make for an awkward training camp, but it does come with the profession.

Here is my take: Savard is going to be a Bruin this year. The B's would have to get back a prospect or high draft pick again this season in order to get sufficient cap relief. With the investigation into Savard's contract looming, that may be enough to keep possible suitors at bay.

"When the Red's Ruled the Roost"

Friday nights in my household have become very quite and relaxed as I am home on "Dad Duty." While I usually have a Bruins game to look forward to on Friday nights during the season, the grind of a hockey-less summer is starting to get to me. However, this past weekend after I put my daughter to bed and had navigated away from Go Diego Go, I stumbled upon something that caught my interest. I am not one who views PBS regularly, but I just caught a glimpse of the info on the documentary "When the Red's Ruled the Roost." It proved to be just enough to wet the appetite as we inch closer to the preseason.

The documentary, which was released in 2009 I believe, follows the history of Rhode Island's first professional hockey team and the pre-cursor to the modern day Providence Bruins. It picks up in the 1920's and does a great job of capturing the sport's market at the time and the special place the Red's played in Rhode Island history. A lot of the information and images I had never seen or heard of before. Countless former players are interviewed and share some very interesting stories about the characters the embodied the franchise. From the chain link fence that served as the boards to the primitive goalie masks that were cutting edge at the time, the documentary "When the Red's Ruled the Roost" is a must for any hockey enthusiast or fan of the Bruins/P Bruins. If you are a Rhode Island native you most certainly will remember some of the landmarks and perhaps stories that your parents and grandparents have told you about.

If you are looking to bridge the gap until the preseason games, do yourself a favor and spend the time to watch this great hockey documentary.

The link below will take you directly to the website.

"When the Red' Ruled the Roost"