Boston Bruins Season Preview?

Not quite.  For one, the season is three games old.  For two, I was pretty disgusted with their offseason and kind of tuned them out until Opening Day.  So there you have it…

Fear not!  The above will certainly not stop me from commenting on the roster/coaches/management/first three games…or anything else.  What’s better than listening to (reading) someone’s at least partially uninformed opinions?  Not much!

I’m not sure we need to rehash my extreme disappointment in the retention of Claude Julien after last season.  Again, Claude has had a good run here.  One Stanley Cup win and another appearance in the final.  Mostly competitive teams all the way through.  But missing the playoffs 2 years in a row should be unacceptable in Boston.  Especially the way they fell apart at the end of both seasons.  Not to mention that the brass has said they want to transition the style of play to…something that Claude has historically not favored.  Sometimes things just run their course and it’s time to go.

I am entirely convinced that Claude is still here simply because they handed him a 3 year contract extension in the middle of the 2014-2015 season.  This is Year 2, still a bit early to eat the dough if he was fired.  I guess we will see how the year goes, to see if Jeremy Jacobs is comfortable eating one year on the contract.  Then again, watch him win enough this year…

As for the players, looking back at the end of last year’s roster, I was surprised to see how much turnover there actually has been.  Sure, they re-signed Kevan Miller to a ridiculous contact.  They re-signed Torey Krug to a fat contract as well, but I can stomach that more than Miller’s.

But look at some other names that are gone:  Loui Eriksson is the big one of course.  I’m not upset at all he is gone.  I am extremely pissed off that he walked with the B’s getting zero in return.  Easily could have dealt him at last year’s trade deadline.  Or at least possibly traded his rights before free agency started.  Whatever.  The other names that are gone that I want to reference are the likes of Chris Kelly, Max Talbot, Joonas Kemppainen, Dennis Seidenberg, Lee Stempniak, Landon Ferraro and Brett Connolly.  Zac Rinaldo is still here, but he is in the minors.

Focusing on the forwards above, outside of Eriksson, they are largely 3rd/4th liners at best.  But Claude loved to play them.  Now that they are gone, this HAS to be a promising development, right?!  They have been replaced by the likes of Austin Czarnik, Danton Heinen and Noel Acciari…with David Pastrnak presumably playing more and Frank Vatrano another viable option when he returns to full health.  Unproven NHLers and young, for sure.  But you’d have to think that they’d have bigger upside than the veterans above, led by Claude’s seemingly all-time favorite in Chris Kelly.  Sure, Riley Nash and Dominic Moore I suppose are a couple of those “old reliable’s” that Claude can fall back on.  Maybe Tim Schaller too.  But my point is there don’t seem to be as many of them around this year.

Defense?  Slightly different story.  Right now, kids like Colin Miller, Brandon Carlo and Rob O’Gara are playing.  But Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid are hurt.  You know once they are not, they will take 2 of those jobs.  K. Miller, McQuaid, Krug, Zdeno Chara, Seidenberg…and then a combination of John-Michael Liles, Joe Morrow, C. Miller and Zach Trotman filled out the D crew last year.  A pretty horrific crew, to be kind.  But Chara, Krug, McQuaid & K. Miller will go back to being the “core” very soon.  They HAVE to, since they are the ones being paid handsomely.  Liles will be the 5th in line…since he is a vet.  Leaves one spot for the kids.

How does that help the D in this current season?  Bringing back the guys that mostly stunk last year?  Burying the kids again?  I don’t see it.  I say burying kids “again”, because that’s what Claude did last year.  I have no idea if C. Miller, Trotman or Morrow can actually play.  But with the state of the D/team last year, they should have used all of last year to find out.  Well, I guess they decided that Trotman couldn’t play, since they let him walk after last season.  But they seem to be on the same course defensively this year as last.

Add in Tuukka Rask’s struggles last year, in part because he didn’t receive much help from his D, and we could be looking at a long season this year as well.  At least a mediocre one.  Another reason to keep playing ALL the kids.  On both D and O.

I’m simply not convinced that Julien will do it.  I think he has ALREADY changed course a little bit.  Take Czarnik, for example.  I thought he was the most impressive newcomer on Opening Night.  He centered the 3rd line and played on both the power play and penalty kill units.  I thought he looked pretty good.  Apparently, he didn’t play as well in Game 2 and found himself on the bench in Game 3, in favor of Schaller…with Moore taking his spot on the 3rd line.  The whole team laid an egg in Game 2 and apparently Czarnik was to blame.  Heinen hasn’t done much in my eyes, especially since he has played on the second line.  And Jimmy Hayes also still appears to be useless.  But Czarnik is the first guy out.

Carlo is playing heavy minutes and seems to be acquitting himself quite well.  O’Gara too.  Even C. Miller.  So we shall see when Claude starts jerking them around.  And for the love of God, can someone please tell me why Chara is playing over 25 minutes in a game in THE THIRD GAME OF THE SEASON??!!  39 years old.  Moves with a piano on his back.  Has broken down late in the season a few years running now.  But Julien already is upping the minutes.  Insane.  Stupid, actually.  One of my favorite parts of the pregame on Opening Night was that Julien told the interviewer that Z worked all summer on skating and side to side drills in the effort to increase his speed.  Ummmmm…that ain’t happening.

Some other brief observations from 3 games:

*Not excited about Patrice Bergeron missing the first 3 games due to injury.  Glad he got in the World Cup of Hockey in full though.

*Like what I see from David Backes thus far.  The contract ain’t pretty.  But at least for now I hope that he can replace Heinen and make the David Krejci line with Ryan Spooner more productive than it has started out as.

*That being said, it would appear Backes, Krejci and Spooner are best used at center.  In addition to Bergy, that’s a full house.  But none of them are playing 4th line.  Interesting to see how this all pans out.

*Krejci looks terrible so far.  Hip?

*Tuuks played well in the last game.  But that softie to start his season still angers me.

*Listening to Jack Edwards call a game is still insufferable.

*Pastrnak looks ready to make a “leap”.  Let’s hope Claude doesn’t bury him the next time he fails to backcheck.

*Brad Marchand was fantastic in the first game.  Should’ve even had one more goal if he didn’t try to get fancy with an open net.  But I hope people aren’t expecting 40-50 goals from him this year.

*I know that it’s tough to look at guys that have sort of blossomed after leaving the Bruins, such as Blake Wheeler.  But in that trade they received Rich Peverley.  Peverley was a pretty big piece of bringing the Stanley Cup back to Boston the end of that season.  Maybe we let this one slide?

*The whole team was awful against the Maple Leafs.  So did the B’s need to go out and get Anton Khudobin back?  Not saying Malcolm Subban was ready, especially after his scary injury to end last season.  But Subban supposedly looked good in camp.  So maybe just re-sign a Jeremy Smith or something until Subban or Zane McIntyre can contribute?  Or just give 1 year instead of 2 to Anton?

*Seth Griffith supposedly looked pretty good in camp too.  He put up huge numbers in Providence last year.  I have no idea if he can actually play in the NHL.  But I do hate losing young players that seem to have potential for absolutely zero…which is what happened when the B’s tried to sneak Griffith through waivers at the end of camp.

In any event, the returns are good thus far, but it’s early.  I’m not convinced this is a Cup contender.  Let’s see if the young kids pan out and better yet, if Claude sticks with them through all the ups and downs.  Hopefully the infusion of at least a little bit of youth keeps us watching for a spell anyway…



About mpdenton

I am a passionate and life long fan of the local teams...and by local I mean New England. I remember the days of Ray Bourque, Larry Bird, Steve Grogan and Wade Boggs...meaning I have lived the highs and lows of the Boston sports scene. With all this pent up Boston sports emotion, I clearly have a lot to say about the local teams and sometimes about sports in general. Maybe even the Revolution... I appreciate you reading my blog and hope you enjoy my rants.

Posted on October 18, 2016, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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