It seems like just yesterday that the Boston Bruins were exiting the ice at the TD Garden after a shocking season-ending defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. After a short summer the B's were back at it today for the start of training camp in preparation for the 2013-2014 NHL season.
Boston fell just short of hoisting their second Stanley Cup in three seasons, and over the course of the off-season, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli made some major roster moves. Between some major veteran acquisitions up front, and the emergence of fresh young faces on the blueline Bruins fans have a lot to look forward to in the coming year. With the majority of the roster set, we're going to take a look at the key things to look out for as the team hits the ice.
1) How will the new additions look?
This off-season, the Bruins two biggest off-season additions came on the wing. After team management became permanently disillusioned with Tyler Seguin, the once promising franchise forward was shipped out of town. In return, the Bruins added 27 year-old Dallas Stars forward Louis Eriksson. The native Swede has been a consistent 25-goal scorer, and his size and finishing ability should fit well into head coach Claude Julien's system.
The Bruins second major move of the summer was the signing of free-agent Jarome Iginla. The future hall-of-famer notoriously spurned Boston in favor of the Penguins at last year's trade deadline, so it will be interesting to see if there is any lingering animosity. The former Flame isn't the player he once was, but his leadership, secondary scoring, and desire to win a championship should ease any doubts from his new teammates.
2) Which young defenseman will win the Bruins sixth spot?
During the early rounds of the 2013 NHL playoffs, injuries forced the Bruins to insert three of it's younger defensemen into action. Enter 5'7 powder keg Torrey Krug, whose dynamic offense skill was able to breathe life into a listless Boston powerplay. Krug was joined by AHL teammate Matt Bartkowski who provided steady two-way play and allowed Claude Julien to continue to roll six defensemen.
The third candidate for the Bruins active roster is 2011 first round pick Dougie Hamilton. The 19 year-old has the potential to be the next great all-around blueliner on Causeway Street, but hasn't quite developed as fast as some might have hoped. For Hamilton, there is still time for him to become the player everyone hopes he can be, but that might not be this season.
With the top five spots of the B's defensive all locked up, it will be interesting to see which of these breakout players can build on last year's successes.
3) Which goalie will be backing up Tuukka Rask?
When the Bruins traded for Coyotes backup Chad Johnson, it was assumed that he was being brought in to challenge for the B's backup goalie spot. That still may be the case, but the two groups posted on Bruins.com indicate that the job is is Niklas Svedberg's to lose. Svedberg was the goaltender of the year in the AHL in 2013, and after skyrocketing his way through the minors, appears primed to make the big club. The groupings and decisions are always subject to change, but Johnson is really going to need to impress in camp to jump Svedberg on the depth chart.
4) How will the Bruins injuries situation play out?
The two big one's to watch here are Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell. Bergeron is currently recovering from surgery on a separated shoulder during last year's playoffs. The Bruins assistant captain is also recovering from a punctured lung and broken ribs both of which came during the the Cup Finals with the Blackhawks.
Campbell meanwhile is still recovering from the broken he leg he endured while blocking a shot against the Penguins. The fourth-line center took to the ice (in a non-contact capacity) for the first time last week, and appears to be significantly ahead of schedule in his recovery process.
The severity of the injuries aside, the team is hoping that both players should be back in time for the beginning of the regular season.
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