The defensively depleted Boston Bruins look like they will be an all or nothing proposition this season.
COACH: Claude Julien
2014-15 RECORD: 41-27-14, 96 points (fifth in Atlantic, missed playoffs)
VITAL SIGNS: 2.55 goals-for per game (22nd); 2.45 goals-against per game (8th); 17.8 power play pct. (18th); 82.0 penalty kill pct. (12th); PDO: 100.0 (16th); Corsi For pct.: 52.2 (7th); Fenwick For pct.: 51.3 (14th); face-off pct.: 53.6 (1st)
PROJECTED DEPTH CHART
Matt Beleskey – David Krejci – Loui Eriksson
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Jimmy Hayes – Ryan Spooner – Brett Connolly
Max Talbot – Chris Kelly – Zac Rinaldo
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Torey Krug – Adam McQuaid
Zach Trotman – Kevan Miller
OUTLOOK: The Bruins followed up a season of disappointment (their first playoff DNQ since 2007) with a tumultuous off-season that saw GM Peter Chiarelli ousted for Don Sweeney and future franchise defenseman Dougie Hamilton and top-line forward Milan Lucic traded away for mostly draft picks.The good news is that all of that is over, things are settling down and 2015-16 offers a fresh start in Boston. However, that doesn’t change the fact that many of the issues that plagued the Bruins last season still exist.. Both have been hampered by injuries over the past few seasons, and Chara got dinged (upper body) in his first preseason game, but the franchise’s usual depth at defense has been depleted by the contentious departure of Hamilton to Calgary, leaving the Bruins one long-term injury away from catastrophe.
While Boston has few issues with Tuukka Rask—one of the league’s few elite goaltenders and a true workhorse (career-high 70 games last season)—a big one remains behind him. The B’s let backup Niklas Svedbarg walk after he struggled in his first NHL season, and while Jeremy Smith and Malcolm Subban are capable minor-league goalies, neither is an immediate step up from Svedberg. Having to rely on either of them for an extended stretch will jeopardize this team’s playoff hopes.
There's a lot of hope and potential here, though it might not be enough to get the Bruins back among the East's elite teams. If things go sour early, coach Claude Julien likely becomes a candidate for a pink slip.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Spooner
While David Pastrnak stole the headlines with his rookie season showcase (10-17-27, +12), Spooner showed off the skillset he’d been refining at AHL Providence with eight goals and 18 points in 24 games with the big club. The Bruins have lacked speed in their past few editions, and Spooner’s quick feet will help create offense on a team that will sorely need it.
PREDICTION: 90 points, sixth in Atlantic