2010-11 Season Preview

by

tyler seguin boston bruins

It’s been an odd day already today in Boston sports. The Patriots seemingly shooting themselves in the foot by trading Randy Moss. The Red Sox ownership getting into the EPL by spending $500 Million on Liverpool FC. There’s a weird buzz in the air an on the local sports talk airwaves, I tell you.

Seems like a great day to talk hockey, if you ask me.

The Boston Bruins finished off their preseason schedule yesterday with a sound drubbing of Liberec of the Czech Elite league thanks to a 5-point effort from Patrice Bergeron and a goal each from youngsters Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron. Feel free to pencil in each of them to the opening night roster because they will undoubtedly be there.

In my mind, much of the story in the early going might very well be about these two impressive rookies. Not since the team debuted Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov in 1997 has there been an infusion of youthful talent as exciting as what we’ll be seeing here this season. Granted, there are no guarantees of success for either of them but the outlook is good and they have shown in the preseason that they belong. With Marc Savard out and a clear dearth of scoring from the wing last season, it’s obvious that both are needed.

Here’s how I see the roster that will start the season. Line combinations based less on what’s happened in the preseason and more on how I configure them in NHL 11. What? 16 years of playing EA Sports hockey games doesn’t qualify me to be an NHL head coach? Whatever.

Forwards

Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton
Blake Wheeler-Tyler Seguin-Mark Recchi
Daniel Paille-Patrice Bergeron-Jordan Caron
Shawn-Thornton-Gregory Campbell-Michael Ryder

Extra: Brad Marchand or Brian McGrattan

Defense

Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart-Johnny Boychuk
Andrew Ference-Matt Hunwick

Extra: Adam McQuaid

Goaltenders

Tuukka Rask
Tim Thomas

Not much in the way of surprises there. Not much in the way of controversy, either. The only real debate I can see is whether or not McGrattan sticks around as a spare forward, sending Marchand to Providence, or vice versa. Adam McQuaid seems the logical choice to be the bubble d-man but it’s possible Matt Bartkowski could leap over him on the depth chart with a strong preseason.

Actually, the defense is my one area of concern going into the season. At the top, it would seem like an area of real strengh with Zdeno Chara as the anchor but I have to admit to not being sold on the supporting cast. There remain a lot of questions concerning health, depth and ability. Andrew Ference and Mark Stuart have had some serious injury problems over the past few seasons, to the extent that I seriously question the sanity of the contract extension the latter received this past season from Peter Chiarelli, a three year deal for $2.25 each. Especially considering the Bruins’ current salary dilemmas. If either goes down, there are going to be some fresh faced youths having to be called into action because the defensive depth chart now, including McQuaid, consists of youngsters like Bartkowski, Steve Kampfer or someone like Nathan McIver. Yuri Alexandrov and many of the other prospects training in Providence just don’t have enough elite professional experience in their pockets to be totally NHL ready.

I could be wrong, though. We’ll certainly get the chance to see.

Salary Caps are a bitch, aren’t they, Pete? Pain in the ass.

It’s not an issue you can ignore when discussion the 2010-2011 Boston Bruins. We saw what the Chicago Blackhawks had to do in the offseason. Trade away half your team. No easy task but they managed to do it.

The Bruins, however, did not. Marc Savard was not traded. Tim Thomas was not traded. Michael Ryder (what? a guy can dream, can’t he?) was not traded. Silly contracts like Ference’s were added. It became a tight squeeze to fit under the cap and I ask, as a hardcore Be A GM Mode player on NHL 11, how can you not be prepared for that? Gotta think ahead. Avoid and get rid of bad deals that hamstring your ability to make moves. Add depth.

Wait. Did I say earlier there was no controversy or debate surrounding this year’s version of the team? What was I smoking?

Here are just some of the other issues the team will face this season.

  • Marc Savard. Will he ever be healthy again and if he is, how will they make salary room for him on the team. The elephant in the room is the idea that the star center’s absence might be a bit of a relief for the team because it puts them under the cap temporarily. Before he fell ill, Marc Savard was on the trading block because the Bruins needed salary space. Now they have it. Plus the chance to see what it will be like to play without him, if he ever gets traded which seems unlikely right now, doesn’t it? Makes you think about the seven year deal that he just signed, as well.
  • Tim Thomas. Sitting there as a clear back-up but making $5 million for the next three. I hope he plays well this season, for his own sake. If it means he can be traded then it’s a win-win as far as I’m concerned. My bet is he dying to show folks that he’s still one hell of a competitor no matter his age or what not. The Tank is nothing if not a battler. Meanwhile, Rask remains entrenched as the number one, a potential goaltending star on the rise.
  • Then, of course, there’s the sting of, oh, I don’t know, something we refer to around here as just THE WORST FUCKING LOSS IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND. EVER. Up 3-0 in the series. Up 3-0 in game fucking seven at home in your own building. Jesusfuckingchristalmighty. How to live that down when many of the core members of that monumental choke are still on this team. I mean, Dennis Wideman wasn’t to blame for it all, folks.
  • Which leads me to one last controversy. Let’s talk about the so-called Hot Seat.

  • Claude Julien. Should he be on it for what happened in the playoffs last season and in previous campaigns? I’ve heard him making the injury excuse but the truth is his team had a tendency to fall flat and let teams walk all over them at other times during the season, too. Remember Pittsburgh? It was a theme last year. Let us not forget how bad they were at times. Will there be a return of the sort of commitment the team needs to be successful including a commitment to team toughness? Is that a fault of the coaching?
  • peter chiarelli claude julien

    I don’t know. Some might think Chiarelli more deserves the hot seat for his salary cap bumbling and his recent failures in the trade market. Nathan Horton was a nice move and the Phil Kessel deal was inspired but there has been little else for the GM to hang his hat on. Cam Neely is now looking down on him and the Sword of Damocles might very well be raised if his vision of the team does not begin to materialize this season. I’d feel more comfortable leading the charge for Chiarelli than Julien right now but there may come a time when they both go if things get bad again.

    Let’s just hope that doesn’t happen, eh? Let’s watch Seguin and Charon and Rask and see if they can become real players. Same thing goes for Blake Wheeler and Milan Lucic, for that matter. Can they be consistent producers on the wing? Goals, physical play, everything. That’s what the team needs from them, of that I am certain.

    Starting this Saturday in Prague, we’ll get see what happens.

    It won’t be boring I don’t think.

    Advertisements

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s


    %d bloggers like this: