Boston Bruins Need All Players Contributing


Training camps are officially open for all 30 National Hockey League teams, each with aspirations of making the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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For the Boston Bruins to garner an invitation to next April’s 16 team tournament certain individuals will be required to play beyond themselves and step squarely into the fore front.  That work begins immediately.  The Bruins do enter the year with a certain level of dependability which they can rely on.

Patrice Bergeron is firmly in the prime of his career and will spend the season digging out pucks and excelling in all three zones as usual.  A fourth Selke trophy for the 12 year veteran is within his grasp.  By all accounts his usual sidekick Brad Marchand arrived to camp in spectacular condition and is poised for a season that could see him score upwards of 30 goals if he can tether the inconsistencies in his game.

Both David Krejci, who missed 35 games, and Zdeno Chara sidelined for 19 are expected to return and make regular contributions to a team that struggled to find offense and leadership last season.  Krejci’s soft hands and unique playmaking ability will be a reliable addition to the Bruin’s top six.  Chara, although not the same player that hoisted the Stanley Cup in Vancouver, remains Boston’s best defenseman.  His presence in the locker room, extraordinary reach and desire to prove critics wrong this year should help keep the Bruins heads above water during difficult times.

Then there’s Tuukka Rask.  The former Vezina trophy winner single handily kept the Bruins within arms reach of a playoff berth as the team in front of him fell apart down the stretch.  Any criticism pointed in Rask’s direction last season was misguided as the team would have likely been eliminated from contention in early March had it not been for the Finnish standout.

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2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup
2 trades the Boston Bruins must make to secure the Stanley Cup /

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  • Things get a bit dicey from there. For the first time in many years Boston will have major competition and openings on its roster.  A return to the days where unheralded players dawned the Bruins jersey and suddenly grew in stature will be crucial to fulfill any aspirations of success this season.

    One player that could help the Bruins immensely by having a breakout year is Zach Trotman.  Now 25, Trotman ended the season on a high note last year and played along side Zdeno Chara for the final ten games.  His play earned him enough trust from Claude Julien to continue to play him late in games and against skilled opponents. Ironically the man Trotman replaced never returned to Boston and the job he seized last spring is still available.  The Bruins will have questions on defense even after they finalize their roster in October, however a step forward by Trotman would help mitigate some of them.  Trotman being able to handle the every day rigors of the NHL would push some of those uncertainties further down the depth chart for a team that decided to pass on veteran free agents this summer.  Based on what was available and salary cap restraints I believe Don Sweeney did the right thing in that regard by the way.

    Mar 31, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center

    Ryan Spooner

    (51) skates past the bench after a goal during the third period against the Florida Panthers at TD Banknorth Garden. The Boston Bruins won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    Like Trotman, Ryan Spooner introduced himself to Bruins fans on a more regular basis last year.  Often maligned by Claude Julien for his lack of defensive prowess, the projected third line center spent most of his early career skating in Providence rather than TD Garden.  Spooner, in what was likely his last chance with Boston seized the opportunity when David Krejci re injured himself in late February.  Spooner played with increased confidence.  He shot the puck more, his passes seemed crisper and he along with David Pastrnak helped awaken Milan Lucic from his winter slumber.

    The 23 year old contributed 8 goals and 10 assists in his final 24 games and helped ease some of the pressure on Patrice Bergeron.  Spooner signed a 2 year, 1.9 million dollar deal this summer and although his performance last year is exciting the sample size has to be taken into account.  While he might not technically be unheralded anymore he has in fact only skated in 56 NHL games.  If his performance dips this year there are players such as Alex Khokhlachev that have made it abundantly clear they would be happy to steal his place.  In a perfect world Spooner will continue to improve without the puck and on face offs while equalling his offensive pace from last year.  Where Spooner is on the bell curve this season will directly impact how the Bruins perform and whether they regain their reputation as a team with a balanced offense.

    Of all of Don Sweeney’s off seasons moves the acquisition of Zac Rinaldo from Philadelphia raised the neck hairs of Bruins fans the most.  Known more for his suspensions than his point totals, the trade seemed to go against the new GM’s view that the game was trending towards a more skilled game.  Relinquishing a third round draft pick for Rinaldo was unsettling to the fan base and a certain level of trepidation is certainly warranted in this case.  That being said, if things fall into place Rinaldo can help.  After arriving in Boston Rinaldo addressed his past and claimed he’s a changed man.  “I’m in my fifth year in the league. I’m not second year in the league. I’m not first year in the league anymore. I’m an experienced player.  I’m a little more mature in the sense of when to ease up on some hits, when to fight, when not to fight. I’ve matured a lot over the year and experienced a lot.”  We’ll see.

    If Rinaldo is true to his word he brings excellent speed and unbelievable intensity to a team that was desperate to find soldiers last year.  In previous seasons the Bruins fed off the electricity inside TD Garden after bone crushing hits that came in waves often sending their opponents sprinting towards Logan International Airport.  “I am going to be that guy” Rinaldo said.  “I am going to bring that edge, and I’m going to bring that energy every single game home or away.”  Boston needs Rinaldo’s word to be more than just fools gold to help re ignite the fire in the franchise.   There is no doubt that both Don Sweeney and Claude Julien have told Rinaldo that he is capable of playing a small yet important role on this team.  It is also certain that each have made clear to him that should his on ice play hurt the team he will find himself a comfortable seat high above ice level.

    The Rinaldo move was a bold risk by a new GM looking to augment some life back into a lineup that was far too easy to play against last year.  It has the potential to be bad for Sweeney, pie in the face bad.  However, when speaking recently at the clubs state of the bruins gathering the GM said “the bottom line for all of us is to be a Bruin, you’d better goddamn hate to lose”.  Rinaldo has a competitive personality type that appears to fit that mould, if he can keep his feet moving and his head in the game he may help rejuvenate a fourth line that all too often was invisible last season.

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