It’s that time of year again, and I’m not talking football season or even playoff baseball. No, I’m talking about the start of HOCKEY SEASON. One of my favorite months of the year has to be October. Football is underway, playoff baseball is in full swing, and the Boston Bruins are getting ready to start their 2018-2019 season in hopes of lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup come June. I know I said I wasn’t talking about baseball or football so that’s the last time I’ll mention it. On to what this blog is all about, Boston Bruins hockey.
Last Year Recap
Last year, the Boston Bruins played well above expectations just about all year long. When odds to win the Stanley Cup opened, the Bruins were 30-1. When the playoffs started last year, the Bruins improved to 6-1 odds only trailing the Nashville Predators at 9-2. We all know how the playoffs turned out with Washington taking down the misfits of Vegas in 5 games.
When the Bruins entered their series against the Tampa Bay Lightning, they were coming off a thrilling 7 game series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, hoping to ride that momentum down to Tampa Bay. Unfortunately they could only scrape one win from Tampa in what turned out to be a very controversial series. I don’t want to make excuses but there were some poor calls that changed the series, but ultimately, Tampa was the better team out there.
- G – Anton Khudobin
- C/Wing – Riley Nash
- LW – Tim Schaller
- RW – Rick Nash
In the short offseason, we saw some interesting moves by the Bruins front office. In his third stint with the Bruins, goalie Anton Khudobin was the spark that pushed the Bruins to be one of the best teams in the NHL regular season. Khudobin had very respectable numbers for a backup last year, going 16-6-7 in 31 games. At one point in the season he took over the starting job from a struggling Tuukka Rask, which Rask eventually took back after getting into All-Star caliber form.
With a lot of young talent making its way into Boston up from Providence, and the teams cap space, Riley Nash somewhat lost his space with the Bruins. He signed with Columbus this offseason after putting up a career year with the Bruins last season. While his loss is not extreme, he certainly will be missed in the faceoff circle and on the penalty kill.
Most teams have a fourth line filled with guys who may not have the silkiest mitts, or the best offensive output, but Tim Schaller was more than a fourth line guy. He played with a little bit of finesse and could move the puck nicely. While his numbers weren’t the best (12goals, 10assists, 22points, -5 +/-) he almost doubled his point total from the 2016-2017 season. Once again with the amount of young guys making their way into Boston, and being a free agent, the Bruins had to let him venture off to a new team.
Lastly, the Bruins lost Rick Nash. They acquired him in a trade with the New York Rangers just before the trade deadline as a rental player set for free agency. While some Bruins brass thought they could re-sign the aging veteran. He has not shown any interest in signing anywhere for the time being. Late in the season he suffered a concussion and now it appears that he is really thinking about retiring. While the Bruins had hoped to resign him for at least another year, they decided to fill his spot with some young talent coming up through the system.
When free agency started, the Bruins made plan A to sign free agent superstar center John Tavares. While some say the Bruins offer was good to great, he decided to sign with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs. So the Bruins turned to plan B, rebuild the left defenseman position with a big body. They went out and signed big John Moore to a 5-year deal worth $2.75M per season. Moore, a defensive defenseman will also help fill the void left behind when the Bruins traded longtime defenseman Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers.
In a move that I did not see coming, the Bruins went out and signed free agent goalie Jaroslav Halak from the New York Islanders. As the starter for the Isles last year he put up less than promising numbers, but you can’t hold that against him given the fact that the Islanders were a very poor defensive team. With the help of the very tough defensive unit in Boston, I expect Halak to bounce back and produce as the backup to Rask.
The B’s took more from the Islanders than Halak as they also signed free agent center/forward, Chris Wagner. Wagner, a Walpole Mass native lives in the Boston area in the offseason and gets to stay close to home. While he is set to be a bottom 6 forward, he should be able to fill in nicely for Tim Schaller. While his numbers don’t compare to Schaller’s, hopefully being back home in Boston can give his play a little boost.
Joakim Nordstrom will also be joining the Bruins by way of free agency. He is coming off a year in Carolina that there isn’t much to write home about. He is another bottom 6 center/forward that doesn’t make too much of an impact on the scoreboard, but maybe he will fit with this Bruins team better than he did in Carolina.
Rest of the Squad
Last season was something that normally doesn’t happen in hockey. The Bruins were a powerhouse team in the middle of a rebuild. The plan going into last season was to get their young guys like Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen, plenty of ice time and experience. These 3 as well as a few others showed that the Bruins have depth, and will be good for years to come.
The B’s top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak, is back again this year ready to make another strong case that they are the best line in hockey. Although they only played in 51 regular season games together due to injuries, suspensions, etc. they were the 3rd highest scoring line in the NHL last season. If they can stay on the ice together this season for over 70 games, the Bruins will have a good shot at winning the President’s Trophy this year.
When you add in the defenseman like Charlie McAvoy, Torey Krug, and the captain Zdeno Chara, with the addition of John Moore, the B’s should be one of the top defensive teams.
If Tuukka Rask can continue the hot streak he ended the regular season with, he could have a chance to win the Vezina Trophy. It is very crucial that he comes out ready to play this season and keeps the B’s in games when the rest of the team is slacking.
The Bruins will open the season on Wednesday, October 3rd against the now defending Stanley Cup Champions, Washington Capitals. It is a big test right off the bat for the B’s as they try to make an early statement taking down what is sure to be a Stanley Cup favorite yet again. They then fly to Buffalo to take on the Sabres the next day.
Get yourself ready for 82 games of nonstop, fast, hard hitting hockey action that is sure not to disappoint. Let the boys entertain you all year long and as the great play-by-play man for the Boston Bruins, Jack Edwards likes to say, “Who has more fun than us?!”