Well, let us all pretend for a few moments that the NHL season will go on as planned. Somehow, Bettman sits down with Fehr and hammers out some flavor of reasonable compromise that helps the league prosper and the players happy. Now, this COULD happen. (Probably not, but I have to hope that the parties involved don’t want a lockout.) In the 2012-2013 season, the Bruins (hopefully) will be playing an eighty-two game season. In the northeast division, the Bruins will be playing twenty six of those games. I have a few predictions on how the Bruins will fare against their divisional rivals.
Buffalo Sabres – (2011-2012 season: 6 games played, 4-1-1). The Bruins and the Sabres will cross sticks seven times this season. Buffalo has made some important steps to improve their lines. Free agency gave the Sabres a surprising amount of power. The Sabres acquisition of John Scott, Kevin Porter, and Steve Ott has given this team power, stamina, and a desire to make the playoffs. (The Sabres just missed the playoffs last year.) On the D, the Sabres added Adam Pardy. Opinion: The Bruins will go 4-2-1 this season. I think the Bruins will be caught off guard early in the season, but make it up in 2013.
Montreal Canadiens – (2011-2012 season: 6 games played, 4-2) The Canadiens rode the bottom of the rail last season. At the end of the season, Montreal had five players on the injured reserve. The Canadiens are rebuilding, but they (in my opinion) won’t be able to make a serious run at that playoffs. The Montreal goalies (Price, 2.43 GAA, and Budaj, 2.55 GAA) aren’t going to be able to play hard enough to compete against team as physical and dominant as the Bruins. Opinion: The Bruins will have one slip up in the seven games they play. I expect the Bruins to go 6-1, possibly taking them all this year.
Toronto Maple Leafs – (2011-2012 season: 6 games played, 6-0) The Maple Leafs have a 3+ goals per game goalie with Reimer. That certainly won’t do. Boston and Toronto will square off again for six games. Toronto still has a strong offense. (Heck, three of my players in my fantasy league last year were Leafs.) Their captain Dion Phaneuf is a talented player. Kessel, and Bozak are both solid players. They just don’t have the wall in the crease. If Rask or Khudobin had a bad game, the Leafs could pull one out. Opinion: The Bruins will go 5-1. As much as a I would love to see the B’s takes the Leafs off the tree, and go undefeated…. I just don’t see it happening this year.
Ottawa Senators – (2011-2012 season: 6 games played, 5-1) I got to see the Senators get trashed by the Bruins twice last year. Good times. Ottawa fans are the Canadian version of the Sabres fan base. They are the nicest bunch of people you can ever disagree with over hockey. They’ve got solid goal tending. They have a good team, that’s getting better. As much as I want to see the Bruins steamroll another divisional team, I really see the Sens splitting the six game series with Boston this year. (just my opinion)