Thursday, October 6, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Boston Bruins

Stanley Cup champions and boy it feels good in Boston (after the Red Sox and Pats struggles, Boston fans have to have hope for some team). They retain many of the pieces that got them the Cup a season ago, and a few supplemental pieces have been added. The question is, as is always the case with a defending champ, can they repeat?

Strengths: They have depth at every position, especially up front. Nathan Horton was a key acquisition and he has become one of the key scorers, as well as David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin, and Brad Marchand. They have grinders on the 3rd and 4th lines, and they perfectly complement the scoring prowess up front. They may be even good secondary scoring options as well. On defense, they still have the impending force that is Zdeno Chara, and others like Dennis Seidenberg, newly acquired Joe Corvo, and Andrew Ference. This group is still extremely solid despite losing Tomas Kaberle to Carolina this offseason. And in net, Tim Thomas is still one of the league's best at what he does, and he is going to be tough to beat this season, as he has been in the past. And if things go wrong, Tuukka Rask can come in and he may be the best 2nd goaltender in the NHL right now.

Weaknesses: With a defending cup champ, you have to stretch to find weaknesses, and here it is no different. They may have lost a little more in defense than they would have liked with Kaberle gone, but there is little doubt that many of the guys there now especially Joe Corvo can replace him. They did lose Mark Recchi and Mike Ryder, but those guys are replaceable, especially within the scope of the Top 6 right now.

Any Help Coming? D Doug Hamilton has immense size, and is very mobile along the blue line. He is a big man, at 6'6" he may even come close to Zdeno Chara's size, and is a physical threat that can move, and that is just what other teams want to face, in 2 big D-Men. RW Jordan Caron is a powerful forward and has a ton of grit and hockey IQ and may perfectly complement pure scoring forwards. RW Jared Knight attacks the goal and is fearless and he works hard to boot.

Outlook: They can easily repeat as champs, and be the first team to do that since the Red Wings did that in 1997 and 1998. They have depth, scoring prowess, great goaltending and solid defense. It will be tough in the East, which has gotten much better over the offseason, but that shouldn't matter for this team. They will be a great team, and they'll be right there in May.

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