Assessing the Start to the Bruin’s Season
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 17:02
With the National Hockey League lockout finally over, the Bruins and the rest of the NHL teams can begin their abbreviated 48-game season.
With their core from the 2011 Stanley Cup team intact, with the exception of Tim Thomas, the Bruins look ready to fight for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
So far, the Bruins have not disappointed; with wins over tough opponents such as the Rangers and Devils the Bruins have definitely earned their top spot in the Eastern Conference with a 6-1-1 record. Here are some highlights to keep an eye on as the season continues:
A potential problem to the Bruins’ success could be their health. They have depth in the Providence Bruins but an injury to a key player on the top two lines could be devastating.
One player to monitor is Nathan Horton. Horton, who has recovered from concussion symptoms, has proven to be a contributor with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on one of the top lines in the NHL. With 3 goals and 3 assists, Bruins fans have to hope he can continue to produce and stay healthy.
An additional player to watch is Tuukka Rask. Rask has been plagued with groin problems in recent years and his injury last year definitely hurt the Bruins down the stretch as they had to rely on Tim Thomas even more.
Now with the job firmly his, Rask has to remain healthy for the Bruins to survive a tough Eastern Conference.
On a more positive note, Dougie Hamilton has proven that he is a capable defense-man.
He is only 19 years old but he has been playing with the poise and awareness found in players much older than him.
He has 4 assists so far and his physicality could be as intimidating as the Bruin captain Zdeno Chara.
In addition to Dougie Hamilton, Chris Bourque has been playing admirably on the third line.
Bourque, the son of Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, has only 1 goal so far but he has been playing on the power play and penalty kill and has given a great effort. What makes the Bruins so tough is the variety of players that can score. Although the Bruins have an emerging star in Tyler Seguin, they do not rely on one player to drive their offense.
The Bruins have balanced scoring among all four lines, have proven to be excellent penalty killers, and have shown toughness when necessary.
Looking out at the rest of the Eastern Conference, it can safely be assumed that no game will be easy. In the Northeast Division alone, the Bruins have tough competition with their rival Montreal Canadians and the youthful Ottawa Senators.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers, and Pittsburgh Penguins also have many talented players and could prove to be formidable foes. With points at a premium, every game matters. The NHL season this year will be fast-paced and a thrill to watch.