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Previewing the East: Boston

Bruins appear well-suited to make another run at Stanley Cup

Wednesday, 08.21.2013 / 6:00 AM / Features
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com

DETROIT – The Red Wings are moving to the Eastern Conference next season where they will be reunited with a trio of Original Six rivals (Boston, Montreal and Toronto) in a division that also includes Buffalo, Florida, Ottawa and Tampa Bay.

Throughout the summer, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose will take an analytical look at a different Eastern Conference team. This week it's the Boston Bruins:





BOSTON BRUINS

2013 Record: 28-14-6
Head Coach: Claude Julien (seventh season)
Home Rink: TD Garden
Red Wings All-Time Record vs. BOS: 249-234-95-1
2013-14 Games: Oct. 5 @ BOS; Oct. 14 @ BOS; Nov. 27 @ DET; Apr. 2 @ DET.




Pending Unrestricted Free Agents: Left wings Jay Pandolfo and Kaspars Daugavins, and defenseman Wade Redden.
Pending Restricted Free Agents: None.
Free Agents Lost: Right wings Nathan Horton, Jaromir Jagr and Jamie Tardif, defensemen Andrew Ference and Aaron Johnson, and goalies Anton Khudobin and Michael Hutchinson.
Free Agents Gained: Right wings Jarome Iginla and Nick Johnson, goalie Chad Johnson, and defenseman Matt Bartkowski.
Tuukka Rask posted five shutouts last season, tying him for the league lead with four other NHL goaltenders, including the Red Wings' Jimmy Howard. (Photo by Getty Images)

Last season wasn’t much of a happy ending for the Boston Bruins, who were seconds from returning home for a seventh and deciding game in the Stanley Cup finals last spring.

The Game 6 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks was stunning, to say the least. However, the Bruins’ front office, led by general manager Peter Chiarelli, made some offseason moves that have the Original Six franchise believing they will reach the Cup finals for the third time in four seasons.

Though Tyler Seguin and Nathan Horton are gone, the Bruins just might be better with the additions of Loui Eriksson and perennial All-Star Jarome Iginla. An accomplished goal-scorer, Iginla, despite his age, is still a lethal sniper who can finish around the net. The former Flames’ captain will likely assume the right-wing role vacated by the departure of Horton, playing on the second line alongside center David Krejci and left winger Milan Lucic.

The acquisition of Eriksson and forward Reilly Smith from Dallas in a trade that sent Seguin, a former first-round draft pick with tremendous upside, and Rich Peverley to the Stars should provide the Bruins will some immediate dividends. It’s assumed that Eriksson, who played on the left side the last seven seasons, will switch to right wing giving Patrice Bergeron another viable two-way forward on his line along with Brad Marchand.

The Bruins believe that Bergeron will fully recover from a series of injuries sustained in the playoffs, including a broken rib, torn cartilage, a separated shoulder, as well as a collapsed lung, which was discovered at the hospital following the Stanley Cup finals.

The other big moves the Bruins made this summer were intern, signing both Bergeron and goalie Tuukka Rask to eight-year contract extensions. Rask was certainly deserving of the $56 million deal after producing a season and postseason worthy of Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy consideration. Bergeron, who led the Bruins with a plus-24 rating, received a deal worth $52 million.

If there’s a concern heading into the upcoming season it might be with the lack of veteran depth on the blueline. With the loss of Andrew Ference and Wade Redden there will be some amount of turnover for the Bruins’ defense. They have veteran Zdeno Chara, who logged nearly 25-minutes per game last season, as well as a stockpile of good, young defenders led by youngsters like Livonia, Mich., native Torey Krug, as well as Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski.

FEEL GOOD STAT
106
– The Bruins were as stingy as they come last season, allowing the third-lowest number of goals. Only Ottawa (100) and Chicago (97) surrendered few goals in the 2013 season.

TROUBLING STAT
18 – An Achilles’ heel for the Bruins was their power play, which struggled badly and landed in last place in total PPG scored. Boston’s vision of having Seguin quarterback the power play was a disaster. However, they should have enough offensive talent to rekindle the special team unit, especially with newcomers Iginla and Eriksson. Another difference-maker could be Krug, whose acumen for scoring power-play goals shined in the playoffs. His three PPG goals was second-best on the team in the postseason.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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