Boston Bruins: What to Watch For in 2014


With the Bruins’ first two preseason contests out of the way, we can finally start looking ahead to the upcoming NHL season. And, as always, the Bruins are one of the favorites to take home the Cup. According to Vegas Insider, the Bruins hold 8/1 odds to win it all, which is tops in the East, and tied with Chicago and LA for the best in the NHL. So, what about the Bruins makes them a favorite almost every year?

Obviously, we start with the key players that have been the focal point of this team for years; among those, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Dennis Seidenberg. At this point, it almost feels like we’re taking these cornerstone guys for granted… that is, until injury strikes. That was the case with Seidenberg last season, which played a huge role in the Bruins’ struggles against the Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semis.

Next, we have to look at the role players; the guys that we may look past, but still play a rather prominent role in the team’s success. In particular, guys like Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille, and Gregory Campbell have held true for the last handful of years for the B’s. Paille and Campbell provide the energy and hustle that you always want to see out of a fourth line, and, even with the departure of Shawn Thornton, I still see the merlot line putting in some hard earned minutes this season. And, in the revolving door that is the Bruins’ third line, Chris Kelly has always been that foundation that Claude Julien plays around.

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Nothing excites me more than young talent, and it’s safe to say that this Bruins team has me very excited. Among the young forwards, I first look to Reilly Smith. The 23 year old played a huge role on the big stage last season, and has made a case for himself as one of the best young talents in the league. After being overshadowed by Loui Eriksson in the Fourth of July trade, Smith has proved himself to his teammates and the rest of the league with his 51 point season.

Another pleasant surprise to come out of the Tyler Seguin trade was Matt Fraser. Although he didn’t have much of a chance to shine in the regular season, he rose to the occasion when he was called upon during the postseason. Highlighted with an overtime game-winner against Montreal, Fraser was able to catch the eye of Claude Julien, and likely cement himself a spot on the third or fourth line come this season. I also think Justin Florek and first-round phenom David Pasrtnak can really come into their own this season if they’re given enough minutes.

On defense, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton have proved themselves to be equal to the hype in their rookie campaigns. Not only do they have the talent to compete with the best of them, but playing alongside vets like Chara and Seidemberg can help them develop into the future leaders of the Bruins’ defense. From there, I expect to see Kevan Miller and David Warsofsky log in some key minutes off the bench.

Apr 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug (47) celebrates his goal with defenseman Kevan Miller (86) in the second period against the Detroit Red Wings in game four of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

But, theres one player I’m most looking forward to watching. Not Patrice Bergeron. Not Tuukka Rask. Not Zdeno Chara… Instead, it’s the one-eyed Swede himself, Carl Soderberg. Soderberg proved himself in his home country of Sweden with a 51 point season for Linkopings HC in 2012, and processed to add 48 points in his first full season after being shipped up to Boston.

I see him staying on the third line with Kelly, and possibly Matt Fraser being added into the mix. From there, Soderberg should have a big season for Boston, with the assist machine chalking up at least 50 points. He definitely possesses the speed and vision to do that (and then some), and he also has the ability to help further develop Matt Fraser (if he’s the guy that fills the last spot on the third line).

As for the final outcome of the this season… that’s anyones guess. The Bruins have the skill and talent to win it all, but, unfortunately, so do many other teams; that’s just how sports go. Even with the necessary pieces in place, the Bruins still have to perform to their highest potential, and bring their A-game against their biggest opponents. Anything less can result in a finish similar to 2014… and anything more can result in a finish similar to 2011.