Boston Bruins Pre-season Outlook for 2009-10

Ok, their 5-2-1 pre-season record was encouraging.  There are, however, still several key questions whose answers will go a long way to determining how much success the Boston Bruins will have this year.

When we last saw meaningful action from the B’s, Carolina’s Scott Walker was steam-rolling the Game 7 OT winner past a dishevelled Tim Thomas.  Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward’s left eye socket was still swollen from the sucker punch scott_walker_sucker_punches_aaron_ward that Walker had delivered in game 5. For Bruins fans, this game 7 OT goal was like getting maced while your pants were down (I hope that never happens to me again).  Ward went unpunished, and in a rather Shakespearean twist, Aaron Ward has since been dealt to Carolina.  It was a shocking, painful end to a breakthrough season for this young Bruins team, and one can only hope they are better for the experience.  The Hurricanes rolled over like Lassie lassie for the Penguins, getting swept by Pittsburgh in the conference finals.  Bruins fans knew that the Black ‘n Gold would have given Pittsburgh a much better fight, which made the game 7 OT loss even more difficult to swallow.  But the Bruins didn’t show up for games 2, 3 and 4 of the Carolina series, and ultimately paid the price.  Enough about last season…..here are 4 questions whose answers will go along way in determining the fate of the 2009-2010 Boston Bruins:

QUESTION 1:  Can Tim Thomas continue to perform at his Vezina Trophy winning level?

Thomas played in 54 games in 2008-2009 as he won the Vezina….he will likely play more in 2009-2010 with rookie Tuuka Rask as his backup.  We’ll see if Thomas’ 35-year old body can hold to the rigors of another 60(?) start season.  A season that also has a 2-week pause for the Olympics, which results in a more compact regular season schedule.  If Timmy tmb_timmy tires during the season, Rask will be forced into a greater role.

QUESTION 2:  Can the Bruins young stars Krejci, Lucic and Wheeler take their games to the next level?

Krejci needs to go from last year’s 73 points to the 90 point range, and Lucic really just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing….scaring the crap out of opponents.  The additional space that hard work continues to create for Lucic will allow his (underrated) natural offensive abilities to continue to blossom.  Also, continuing to work closely with Cam Neely medium_NEELY can’t hurt….it hasn’t so far.  Blake Wheeler is the biggest question mark of these three, as he disappeared like the Lindbergh baby in last year’s postseason.  He showed some encouraging use of his speed in the Columbus game on Saturday nite, but this kid still has alot of questions marks surrounding him….more questions than a blind man at an orgy.

QUESTION 3:  How will the Bruins replace the 36 goals they got last season from Phil Kessel?

Phil Kessel is now in Toronto.  Enjoy PATH, Phil.  As for picking up the slack, it should come from several sources. Marco Sturm is back and healthy, and combined with the expected upturn in goals from the three players listed in Question 2, that should account for ~40 more goals this season.  Also, Patrice Bergeron came on very strong at the end of last year and was arguably their best player in the postseason.  I think Rene Rancourt on the point on the power play could help also. Relax, the Bruins had the largest Goals for/Goals against differential last year, also….so we can win a few more 4-2 games that used to be 6-2 wins.  Isn’t ‘fan logic’ wonderful?.  If all else fails, I know Peter Chiarelli has Keith Crowder on speed dial crowder .

QUESTION 4:  Can the team defense sustain its high level of play after the departure of P.J. Axelson and Steve Montador?

I had to have at least one joke question.  P.J. Axelson led the way in open net goals last year….and in disappearing for weeks at a time. And Montador handled the puck in the playoffs like Ted Kennedy handled AA pamphlets. Axelson is back in Sweden, and Montador signed as a free agent with Buffalo. Good riddance~

SO LONG, SUCKERS~!  phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg

On the NESN front, Jack Edwards  still sucks.  I watched the Columbus game on Saturday nite, and he had diarrhea of the mouth for over a minute talking about Theo Fleury’s unsuccessful comeback while there was some pretty furious hitting going on in the game at hand. Milan Lucic alone threw about 3 solid hits during a 45-second stretch.  Not a word from Jack-off, though.  Apparently we care more about the plight of a 41-year-old washed-up non-story from another team than we do about the game that we turned on NESN to see.  Please, NESN……Bruins fans are thrilled to see the Black ‘n Gold has risen like Lazarus to become a top-notch team/organization again, and they deserve a broadcast team that isn’t led by someone who is more suited to guest host Wayne’s World.   For long time Bruins fans, the recent death of Fred Cusick 0a6f3cd109_091509cusick painfully reminds us what a dreadful job that Jack does game-in and game-out.

And yes, I still miss Derek Sanderson DSanderson

Two of my favorite on-air Derekisms:

“I’ll tell ya Fred, what the Bruins need now is a big fight….”

“Yeah Fred, I gave a girl $10,000 once….NEVER saw her again…”

NOTE FOR BRUINS FANS: Hal Gill is now a Canadien…..thank God.

I’m excited for Thursday’s opener against the Caps….but bummed that Versus HD is not available from Norwood Light Broadband. I promise I will not pull a ‘Roy Spencer’. spencer  …or a ‘Brian Spencer’,  for that matter.  The Spencers are my favorite hockey family of all time….with all due respect to the Crowders.

So until Thursday, let’s go back to Tom Larson larson in the studio…..

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