With the season starting tomorrow, the Bruins coaches and management will have to make some cuts to get the roster down. This morning, they did just that. Ryan Spooner, Matt Bartkowski, Aaron Johnson have been assigned to Providence according to the NHL Network. What does this tell us Bruins Nation? What sort of things will this last set of cuts mean, and what else should we expect in this very short season?
1.) Chris Bourque is getting his shot. Chris, son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque had said that it was a dream of his to come to Boston and play in the Black and Gold. With his three point game against the Providence Bruins, the newly minted #48 will be on the third line. That line, which is filled out by Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley will be expected to produce in this shortened season. Chris had stated that he was out their playing not as the son of a legend, but as his own man.“I’ve said it a thousand times, but it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to put this jersey on in a game,” Bourque said. “Even though it’s just an exhibition game, it still meant a lot to me.” If he can keep that kind of performance up like he did in the scrimmage, I’d say the job is secure for now.
2.) Dougie Hamilton will be starting in Boston. A lot has been said about Hamilton and what he can bring to the team. The Bruins’ 2011 first round draft pick (ninth overall) has been ruling in the OHL, and it is felt by the Bruins that there isn’t much else he can learn there. It’s likely that the 6’5″ Hamilton could be paired with the “6’9″ captain, Zdeno Chara to form a very imposing wall on defense. Granted, Hamilton did offer a rather anemic performance during the scrimmage, but Coach Claude Julien was not that worried.
“I thought Dougie was OK,” Julien said. “He might have looked a little bit nervous. He’s a much better — he’s more poised with the puck than he was tonight. And again, we kind of expected that it’s his first game and guys put a lot of pressure on themselves, and I think the biggest thing for us will be to calm him down. What I saw tonight was not what I saw in practices this week and it’s not what I’ve seen in his games at the junior level. If anything he really is poised and he sees the passing lanes, and you saw some of that tonight. But there was times when he really fought the puck a little bit and realized that the play probably closes a little bit quicker here than at the level he came from.”
3.) Tuukka Rask is ready. Now hold on a minute. I saw the same scrimmage you did, and for a moment the 7-5 score worried me. Fortunatly, one of my Bruins buddies who played goal in high school and beyond looked at me and said “He played it like it was a scrimmage. No way would Tuukka go crazy acrobatic before the season starts.” He made a good point. Tuukka was playing like his normal whirling dervish self in Europe and he did just fine there. Keep in mind, there is going to be some sloppy hockey played early on this season. A lot more penalties are going to get called, and most of the penalty kill defense will fall on the crease police. Tuukka is ready for fifty to sixty games, and Khudobin will be there to pick up the rest. Worst case scenario, Michael Hutchinson steps up from Providence to take a home game or two.
4.) The Merlot Line is ready to make a bloody mess of things. Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton will be up to their usual hi-jinks. Daniel Paille will be there to solidify the fourth line and help bail the other two out in battles (or out of jail if they’re fighting majors remain consistant.) Thornton and Campbell actually talked down a very feisty Bobby Robbins(AHL Bruins’ pugilist extraordinaire) when he was chirping with Chara in the second period of the scrimmage. The fourth line was being consistant with their playing, and were consistantly winning battles.
5.) Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin‘s bromance will lead to a lot of goals, and a lot of frustrated opponents. Marchand and Seguin, were both rookies during the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup Championship run. Those two work extremely well together. Both are gifted puck handlers (slight edge to Marchand), and lightning fast on the ice (Seguin there). They are saddled with alternate captain(and future saint) Patrice Bergeron. All three players were in the top five for +/- in the league, and they are consistant scorers. Having such a good working relationship with each other only helps Boston as they do their best to hit the Rangers hard tomorrow night.
The Bruins are favored to win the Northeast Division this year. (Naturally.) They are at present a 15-1 shot to win it all. As long as we have a healthy team this year, I’d say we should have better odds than that. It all goes down tomorrow folks. Let’s see the Bruins win this one for little Valentina Lucic!