Following the Anaheim Ducks in line is the Atlanta Thrash... I mean Boston Bruins.
Ladies and gentlemen! Your 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champions! No but seriously. Can anyone have a better ending to their season than the Stanley Cup Champions? The Bruins, similar to the Penguins two years ago went down 2-0 and 3-2 in the finals before ending it away from home in game 7. It seemed like a perfect postseason for the Boston faithful. Taking out the Habs in the first round in an OT game 7 scored by Horton. In the second round they were able to finish off the Flyers in 4 games without letting them even get one game into their comeback. The third round ended with a 1-0 game 7 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning with Horton once again scoring the game winner. All three of those were great, but none matched up to the finals series that saw Thomas give up 8 goals in 7 games. Are you kidding me? He played like a man possessed. Stanley Cup aside, the loss of Marc Savard (possibly for the rest of his career) is one of the negatives the Bruins endured. This last season will be a hard one for the Bruins to match once again, but unlike the Blackhawks, the Bruins have kept their whole core together not losing many players of importance other than Ryder and Recchi (got that Kaberle? players of IMPORTANCE).
Major Players Added:
The Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins were given a gift soon after the end of their Stanley Cup run. Because of the trade that sent Kessel to Toronto for multiple draft picks a few years back, Boston had the 9th overall pick in the draft. However the best part is yet to follow. The academically knowledgeable top 5 ranked defenseman Dougie Hamilton fell down the ranks to #9 for Boston to receive one of the biggest steals of the draft.
Benoit Pouliot: The Bruins went out on the first day of free agency and signed the disappointing former top 5 draft pick out of Montreal. Benoit has loads of potential he has yet to live up to. Drafted just 3 spots behind Sidney Crosby in 2005, Pouliot recorded 13 goals and 30 points this year playing a 3rd line role for Montreal. With a good training camp, he can find himself with a top 6 role in Boston playing alongside either Bergeron or Krejci. If that does not give him a boost of confidence, I’m not sure what will.
Joe Corvo: Shortly after the “all important” Tomas Kaberle signed in Carolina, the Bruins took advantage and acquired veteran Joe Corvo from the same Hurricanes for just a measly 4th round draft pick. Corvo should fit in well in Boston playing a far less important role then he had in Carolina. Last year he tied career highs in assists and points and played a great powerplay role scoring 5 goals on the man advantage for the Canes. At the age of 34, Corvo has one year remaining on his contract in Boston.
Who Was Lost:
Michael Ryder signed on with the Dallas Stars for 2 years worth 7 million
Boris Valabik signed on with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 1 year worth 550k
Mark Recchi announced his retirement from the National Hockey League
The very same Bruins offense (minus Ryder and Recchi) that won the Stanley Cup just two months ago will take the ice on the 6th of October against the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston holds a well rounded offensive lineup lead by centermen David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. Expect 19 year old Tyler Seguin to hold his own at training camp and receive a full-time spot on the Bruins top 6 this year. Tyler had a fantastic 12 months starting from being drafted 2nd overall by the Bruins, to hoisting the Stanley Cup just one year later. There top line consisting of Horton, Krejci, and Lucic will have a great amount of time to build off their fantastic playoff chemistry. If you want to know how good this offense is, just look at last years team. This team will play very similar to the Bruins that won the Stanley Cup. Peter Chiarelli however still has one more thing to take care of on his to-do list. Restricted free agent Brad Marchand finds himself still without a contract heading into the later weeks of the off-season.
The most underrated aspect of the Bruins defense is the play of Dennis Seidenberg. Dennis plays a very sound defensive game alongside Chara and this past year he was able to add a respectable offensive output as well. Throughout the 25 playoff games, Seidenberg pitched in 1 goal and 11 points with a +12 rating. Not nearly given enough press time during the Bruins Stanley Cup run. With a well rounded top 4 included Chara, Seidenberg, Boychuk, and Ference, with Corvo, McQuaid and Kampfer looking in, the Bruins towering defense has a lot of teams cringing and make Thomas’ job a lot easier (not that he really needs it).
If your looking for a team that holds a perfect goaltending duo, look no further than the Stanley Cup Champs. Starting in goal is 37 year old well-traveled Tim Thomas. Coming off the second year of a 4 year contract, Thomas realistically doesn’t really have much left in his career. If anything, he’s got a good 4 years left as Bruins starter. Usually that will worry a fan base. Well, not Beantown. Waiting in the helms is 24 year old Finnish goaltender Tuukka Rask. On many teams in the NHL, Tuukka would already be a starter. However, in Boston, He has no reason to worry about being a backup. It’s like a match made in heaven. Thomas is playing out his career in great fashion, Rask is playing backup behind one of the best goaltenders in the league before taking over as starter, and Bruins faithful have no reason to worry about the future of the goaltending position in Boston.
Deen’s Projected Lineup:
Nathan Horton - David Krejci - Milan Lucic
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot - Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk
Joe Corvo - Adam McQuaid
The 2nd seeded Boston Bruins will face a tough Tampa Bay team in the first round. After nearly losing it, they will eliminate the Lightning in game 7 for the second consecutive year. In the second round however, Boston will run into a very hot 3rd seeded Washington Capitals team that will finally make it past the second round after eliminating Boston in 6 games in front of their home crowd at the Verizon Center. Expect Thomas and Chara to once again be atop the goalie and defense categories respectably.