Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Boston Bruins 2011-12 Preview

What do the Bruins have in mind for an encore after their epic Stanley Cup victory over the Vancouver Canucks?

Thomas, Bruins hungry for another Stanley Cup? After one of the greatest goaltending performances in Stanley Cup Playoff history, Tim Thomas hoisted the Conn Smythe trophy and the Stanley Cup. 

With the majority of the Bruins’ roster intact after their surprising Stanley Cup championship run last spring, can they repeat? 

Tim Thomas appeared invincible, and Zdeno Chara seemed smothering.  Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand were tremendous as well, but can they repeat?  Fatigue may set in, as will the inevitable Stanley Cup hangover, but this team has what it takes to get back to the dance. 

With Philadelphia overhauling their lineup, Pittsburgh having question marks over the health of Sidney Crosby, and the Washington Capitals trying to decide what kind of team they are, the Eastern Conference may be there for taking. 

The Bruins are built for playoff hockey with forwards like Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton, but they did get there with a little luck.  Three Game 7 victories and impenetrable goaltending will make 2010-11 difficult to repeat.  Still, the Bruins look as strong as ever and will do their best to prove that last year was no fluke.  Expect a Division Title and at least the conference finals.


Forwards 
Boston boasts a lot of depth and a blend of size, skill and toughness up front.  Their roster remains largely intact from last year, with exceptions to Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder.

David Krejci
The Bruins #1 center led the NHL playoffs in scoring and is rather unassuming.  He appears a solid bet for 70 points with solid wingers no matter what line he’s on.

Nathan Horton
Finally getting a taste of winning hockey, Horton filled his boots after leaving Florida.  Horton still has room for growth and should eclipse the 60 point 30 goal level this season.  Confidence can only help this young power forward.

Milan Lucic 
The hulking winger took his game to another level last year and hoisted the cup in his hometown.  Lucic should repeat last year’s numbers and perhaps better them.  The Bruins top line is young and will get better.

Patrice Bergeron
Bergeron has had a roller-coaster ride of a hockey career, but the one piece of consistency he’s had is winning. World Jr & Olympic Gold, and now a Stanley Cup.  The versatile center does it all and could see an increase to his numbers this season with more confidence and some luck on the health front.

Brad Marchand
Marchand seemingly came out of nowhere last year and made a huge impact, especially in the Stanley Cup Final.  Marchand’s speed and feistiness make him a dangerous penalty killer and transition threat. 60 points may be his peak, but expect a more modest 40-50 this year.

Tyler Seguin
The high-profile rookie showed flashes of brilliance in the playoffs and will be a mainstay on Boston’s line-up this year.  His talent is unquestioned, but depth amongst the forward ranks may prevent his point totals from reflecting his talent level.  Still, injuries elsewhere could improve his ice-time, and if you’re in a keeper league—grab him.

Rich Peverley
The versatile forward escaped Atlanta and made the best of his time in Boston.  Slotted in the 3rd line, Peverley is the ideal third line center.  With the capability to fill-in should injury strike.  40 points would be very reasonable to expect.

Defence
Zdeno Chara
Chara had an emotional year filled with controversy, and eventually a Stanley Cup.  The big man plays a lot of minutes and it’ll have to wear on him eventually.  40 points is very doable, but his role may be scaled back as he leaves his prime years behind him.

Dennis Seidenberg
Seidenberg was phenomenal in the post-season and is a solid all around defender with the potential to put up respectable point totals.  35 points is a good bet for the German international.

Joe Corvo
Out with Kaberle, In with Corvo. The longtime Hurricane defender has solid offensive instincts and should aid a Bruins powerplay that was pathetic in the playoffs.  40 points are within his reach.

Goaltending
Tim Thomas
A Vezina Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup.  What will Tim Thomas do for an encore?  He stole his starting job back from Tuukka Rask and never relinquished it.  The 37 year old Thomas has reached the top of the mountain, and will most certainly fight to stay there.  With few changes to the line up in front of him, he should see his share of victories and shutouts this year.
Prediction - 29 Wins

Tuukka Rask
Rask wasn’t bad last year, but he shared the net with someone having one of the best seasons any goaltender has had in the past 20 years.  If Thomas needs rest, Rask will be there, if Thomas falters, Rask will be there.
Prediction -  20 wins

Top Sleeper
Brad Marchand
Marchand’s future looks mighty bright.  Coming onto the scene rather late in 2010-11, he was a threat to score short-handed all year, and made opponents lives hell in the post-season.  His 19 points in the playoffs are surely a sign of things to come. 

Marchand has the potential for 50-60 points, but on a deep Bruins squad, may be hard pressed to get 50.  However, if your league rewards goals more than assists, or shorthanded goals, then make sure you nab this guy.

Top Rookie
LW -  Jordan Caron
Caron made the team out of training camp last year, and managed 7 points in 23 games.  Caron is almost ready, and may challenge for a top 9 spot out of camp to fill a vacancy created by the departures of Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder.

Potential Breakout Player
Tyler Seguin
Last season, Tyler Seguin spent time up and down the lineup, and often out of it.  Youngsters like Seguin usually are found on lousy teams where they can get more ice time and flourish.  Seguin found his challenges off the ice, as he was seldom on it on a deeper Bruins squad.  Still, Seguin filled in admirably during spot duty in the post-season, including a tremendous series against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final.  This year, Seguin could find himself a Top-9 role and almost certain action on the power play—where the Bruins struggled mightily in the post-season. 

Big things are expected from Seguin.  If not this year, then next.  Krejci and Bergeron lie ahead of him on the depth-chart, but neither have a tremendous record of health and durability.  Look for Seguin to notch 35-50 points.



Fantasy Hockey Toolkit Central 2011-12 Season Previews
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