The party is over and Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli made public the opening night roster for the 2011-2012 season.
The 22 man squad had little turnover from the previous Stanley Cup championship season, losing only three of the pillars that held the city of Boston high enough to capture the attention of the hockey world.
The returning forwards are Patrice Bergeron, Gregory Campbell, Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, Daniel Paille, Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin, and Shawn Thornton. New to the opening night starting forward slot is Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot.
Caron has made great strides with the Bruins since being drafted 25th overall in 2009. He played 23 games last season and scored 3 goals and 4 assists on a defensively strong Bruins team. With the absence of one of the game’s best leaders in Mark Recchi due to retirement, it will be interesting to see who will step up into the parental role and proverbially take Caron under their wing this season. The Bruins did have a good candidate in Chris Clark while he was in town on a professional tryout but has been released from that contract. With a glance at the roster it appears that the birth the team’s new leader will be Patrice Bergeron who had the benefit of playing with Recchi for the last three years, although it is rumored that there may still be a contract in the works for Chris Clark. The Bruins will likely wait a few weeks in to the season to see if Clark’s leadership skill will be needed by the younger players before offering him a contract.
Pouliot is a bit of a risk for the Bruins but a risk they can afford. He is a consistent underachiever who has never lived up to his draft status of 4th overall in 2005, and has only put up 0.39 points per game for the Wild and Canadians to date. Chiarelli has cashed in on underachievers in the past with Michael Ryder but has lost out with others such as Dennis Wideman and Steve Montador. Chiarelli has put some meat on Coach Claude Julien’s plate that may already be spoiled and the fans will need to watch if Pouliot truly puts out 100% on every shift.
Returning for defense on the Boston Bruins is Johnny Boychuk, Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ferrence, Adam McQuaid, and Dennis Seidenberg. The newest additions to the blue line are Joe Corvo and Matt Bartkowski.
Corvo was acquired from Carolina to replace Tomas Kaberle and as long as Corvo can lace his skates and make it out on the ice, it should be a large improvement. Not to take away from Kaberle’s skill level, he did not live up to expectations that Boston had since being acquired from Toronto. Kaberle did not have the benefit of a training camp under the Bruins regime and/or the season behind the scenes with his new teammates, but he is a seasoned veteran with the ability to succeed and instead played with amnesia. Corvo is expected to improve the power play unit of the Bruins that was dismal in the playoffs.
Bartkowski was acquired in the Seidenberg trade from Florida which looked like filler for the trade at the time. His youth and inexperience will be watched closely by the coaching staff and the fans. Steven Kampfer is on injured reserve and if Bartkowski isn’t turning heads by the time Kampfer is healthy there will be a fast replacement in the roster. However, there is not much time for the youth in the Bruins farm system to develop with the amount of free agents expected at the end of this season.
The goaltending duo of Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask has not changed, although it has been mentioned all over the Boston Bruins offices that Rask will likely get more playing time. The team and coaches are taking in to consideration the age of Tim Thomas and the unlikely hood he will repeat his Vezina Trophy performance of the 2010-2011 season without more rest.
Since being acquired from Toronto, Rask has been touted as the goalie of the future for the Bruins and he showed what he can do in the 2009-2010 season. He was limited by injury last season but the injury is not expected to affect his play in the future.
Tonight the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins will potentially offer a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals when they open the season against the Philadelphia Flyers and after the 6th championship banner is raised, we will see how the short offseason will affect the youth of the team.
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Topics: Adam McQuaid, And Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ferrence, Banner, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Marchand, Chris Clark, Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell, Joe Corvo, Johnny Boychuk, Jordan Caron, Mattbartkowski, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Rich Peverley, Roster, Shawn Thornton, Steven Kampfer, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara