It is almost here. The Boston Bruins will take on the Philadelphia Flyers in Boston tomorrow night. The Bruins will raise their Championship banner, but it will also mark the opening of a new season of Boston hockey. Last season, things could not have gone more right for the Bruins in the playoffs, well, other than the power play. What should we watch for heading into this season as the Bruins start their quest to repeat?
Number Five- Patrice Bergeron Line
The past two seasons, Patrice Bergeron has played on a line with Mark Recchi. The two had instant chemistry, and the line benefited tremendously. Late into the season and in the playoffs, the line was joined by Brad Marchand, which was also an immediate success. So, how will the Bergeron-Marchand line fare without Recchi there? It appears like it will be Rich Peverley who will play on the left wing of this line in 2011-12. Peverley seems like a good fit for the line, but the concern is how the chemistry will be with Recchi out of the mix.
Number Four- Tyler Seguin
The reigns should be a bit looser on Seguin this season, his second one in the National Hockey League. He gained ten pounds this off season, which should help him in puck battles a lot more. He will not be muscled off the puck any more and his offensive skills can blossom. Being placed on a line with Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron is very strategic. Kelly can make up for any defensive woes while Caron can learn and prosper on defense there, along with shine offensively with Seguin.
Number Three- Depth
It seems like Chris Clark will not be a Boston Bruin, so who will we see at forward if there are any injuries? Lane McDermid and Max Sauve were late cuts, so they could see some NHL time if the Bruins need them. McDermid is a grinder type who can also contribute offensively, while Sauve is a finesse, all offense player. Jamie Arneil could see time as well. In emergency situations, they could also call up Ryan Spooner or Jared Knight from their junior teams.
Number Two- Power Play
Ah, the power play. Always a topic in a Bruins themed discussion. Surely they can not win the Cup two years in a row with that power play? Can lightning strike twice in that area? It should improve greatly with Joe Corvo in the mix, but where else should it improve? Can David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron carry the PP for the forwards? Is the cast around them good enough?
Number One- Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas
Tim Thomas will not have another historic season. They are historic for a reason. However, there is no reason to believe that he will not be good. They could stand to play Tuukka Rask a little more, though. Thomas is aging, and with age comes decline. There is no way to think that Rask could not handle a 30-game schedule this year, while Thomas can still play the bulk with 52 and remain fresh for the playoffs.