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BOSTON (CBS) – After spending the summer immersed in every article, tweet, blog on the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins, and watching the countless reruns of the Eastern Conference Finals and of course the Stanley Cup Final, it’s time for them (and me) to get back to work and see what the new season as winners will bring.
The so-called Stanley Cup Hangover is tough to deny. When you are playing legitimate hockey on June 15, followed by a mass amount lot of celebrating, October 6 comes quickly. Most times the Champs have a hard time getting through the playoffs, and some don’t even make it in the next season. It would take a dramatic drop off in coaching and on-ice performance in order for Boston to stumble along and not be one of the 16 teams to make the playoffs.
The good thing for the Bruins is that they are in the friendly confines of the TD Garden for seven of their first 10 games. That may come back to haunt them later in the year when they are on the road more than home in both February & March, but lets deal with the present!
First and foremost is the Crowning of the Champs! Thursday, October 6, will be the moment we Diehard Bruins fans have been dreaming about for 39 years. To see that shining piece of silver sitting on the ice and that brand spanking new eight-spoked “B” banner being lifted to the Garden rafters, making it official. That’s when you get that tingly feeling all over again.
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The season questions will be significant. The number one query will be can (or will) Tim Thomas be All-World the entire year as he was in leading the team to the Championship? At age 37, he might as well be the second-coming of Martin Brodeur, going into his 40’s playing at a high level. And if Tuukka Rask can spell him for more games than last year with quality goal tending, this would make for a good tandem!
Marc Savard will not play this season and in my opinion, is most likely a former NHL player. This is a bad thing for the Bruins, but a REALLY good thing for Savard and his family. Hopefully, not playing will let him get back to being a normal and productive husband and father for a long time! The Bruins will miss his innovative-ness with the puck, especially on the power play. Right now they do not have anyone with the creativeness that Savard had especially with the man advantage. They will miss that greatly.
Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci will be the two top centers (as they were all through the playoffs) and with the newly signed Brad Marchand and return to health and form of Nathan Horton, most of the team is still intact.
The only difference is Mark Recchi has retired, Michael Ryder is now a Dallas Star, and Tomas Kaberle signed for big bucks in Raleigh.
In their place, the Bruins signed Defenseman Joe Corvo from Carolina. He should be better on the blue than Kaberle was. He certainly has a better shot and will probably accompany Zdeno Chara on the power play. General Manager Peter Chiarelli also went after another Montreal Canadien player, signing free agent Benoit Pouliot. The fourth pick overall in 2005 under-achieved mightily in Montreal, saying that Canadien Coach Jacques Martin never had enough patience with him in his development. Considering Bruins Coach Claude Julien is sort of cut from the same mold, it’ll be interesting to see how this works out – although, we know that Julien is loyal to his hard workers and will most definitely give Pouliot a solid chance to prove himself.
No longer a rookie, Tyler Seguin should not be treated with kid gloves any longer. He should be allowed to play with a bit of abandon and allowed to make mistakes and learn from them. The kid obviously has the ability to put the puck in the net and since it looks like he will be playing a lot more of the center position, this will make for a better all around player as Boston looks for more scoring depth.
There should not be much change in the way the Captain plays, but with the addition of Corvo and if Dennis Seidenberg continues to be the solid backliner he was last season and all through the playoffs, Chara’s minutes could be reduced a bit, saving some wear and tear on the big galoot. Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid will also be back on the blue line. Not yet sure which of last year’s Providence Bruins will be staying north but my thinking is that Jordan Caron, who had a few games with the Bruins, may start the year in Boston.
The Bruins are one of the best teams in the East and should remain that way. And if there is a Stanley Cup Hangover, I think it will be Friday Morning, October 7,
Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at BruinsDieHard.com and at twitter @bruins_diehard.