Friday, January 11, 2013
How Will the Bruins Fare in the Shortened Season?
The NHL gets back to business as unusual on Jan. 19th when they begin a shortened 48-game season. For Bruins fans, just seeing the players back on the ice in black and gold will be a success, but for the players, they must be licking their chops for the 2013 season.
The B's won the Lord Stanley's Cup for the 2010-11 season, and most of that same roster til laces 'em up at the TD Garden for home games. The Bruins have young stars like Tyler Seguin, 20, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, 24, as well as elder statesmen like Andrew Ference and Shawn Thornton, 33, and captain Zdeno Chara, 35. Age has never seemed to slow the Bruins down, and Ference and Chara have been playing for over a month already overseas, so in 2013, that's not a concern.
After a few concussions, the most famous of which came at the hands of Canucks defender Aaron Rome, B's winger Nathan Horton is ready to rock. According to Lucic, Horton looks more game-ready than ever some of their teammates playing overseas.
"We had a little scrimmage to end [Thursday's practice] and on our side there was only five forwards. we were huffing and puffing, but he looked good," he said. "He looks to be back on track. He's in really good shape and I'm excited to get back out there and play with him."
Horton's condition shouldn't be a problem this year, but one player to keep an eye on will be goaltender Tuukka Rask. Poised to be the starter between the pipes after Tim Thomas lost his marbles, Rask aggravated his groin against playing in the Czech Republic. It was not as severe as when he originally injured it last March, but took himself out of a few games as a precaution.
The only other injury on the team right now appears to be to perennial all-star snub defender Adam McQuaid. Darth Quaider has had multiple surgeries to correct blood clots around his collarbone and arms, and will hopefully be ready by the end of the month. Watching the Bruins won't be the same without McQuaid crushing faces on the ice.
All in all, the Bruins look to be in an excellent position to finish at the top of the Eastern Conference this year. With an embarrassing first round exit after losing to the Capitals, the Bruins will come back faster, stronger and hungrier for another championship.
I'm predicting Seguin will lead the team in points, followed closely by linemate Patrice Bergeron and second line winger Lucic. If Seguin and Bergeron find their rhythm like they did last year, they can again be one of the most electric lines if Marchand is up to the task. A lot of Lucic's points come right down in front of the net, allowing Horton and Krejci to use their skills to fire pucks on net for Looch to slap home on a rebound.
Defense has always been a strong point for the Bruins, if they get out to a hot start on the pillows of Rask, that should be all it takes to fuel a playoff run. The first test will come right away against the East favorite New York Rangers on opening night Its tough to judge with a 48-game season, but I'm gonna say the Bruins can get 29 to 31 wins. Doesn't hurt to be optimistic, right?
Don't forgot to join Three if by Strike on Jan. 19th for the Bruins opener live blog!