With the Patriots succeeding without Tom Brady and the Red Sox on their way to the match, expectations for New England’s hockey team will probably be extremely large — and unless they overachieve, Bruins backers will most likely be disappointed with the product Cam Neely has assembled for the upcoming season. Anticipate head coach Claude Julien’s buttocks to be implanted firmly in the hot seat this season as his job safety could be in question if the Bruins fail to make the playoffs for the third consecutive year.
Boston missed the playoffs by only 3 points last season after finishing a respectable 93 points but left few improvements into some roster with more than its share of rust. Zdeno Chara is far from the Norris winner that he once was as he’s currently on the incorrect side of 40 and Tuukka Rask made serious regressions in a 2015-16 campaign that saw him finish outside the top 20 in save percentage.
If this team is to succeed, it’s going to need to score and score a lot, something I’m not sure it is capable of. Past the very first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes — who had a joint 90 aims and 173 points in 2015-16 — there is not a whole lot of goal-scoring experience with this roster. The projected third and second lines for Boston combined to score just 73 aims for their respective teams last season.
Stanley Cup +2500
The main question here is this — can a team with one strong line, no defense and a struggling Tuukka Rask create the playoffs and win four straight seven-game series? I have some severe doubts and unless Rask yields to Vezina form, this still-rebuilding group has essentially no opportunity to win a second Cup this season.
Another hit to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup chances is that only one team in the past twenty years has missed the playoffs and then proceeded on to win the Cup the next year.
Eastern Conference +1200
For almost a decade, if you wanted to estimate how your team piled up at the Eastern Conference, you used the Bruins as a reference. They earned conference titles in 2010-11 and 2012-13 and maintained stacking their method by trading stars such as Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin. That paradigm, however, has shifted as Boston is now rebuilding and trying to lose a number of their dead weight currently holding the team down.
Earning the Stanley Cup final and winning a third conference title in the last seven years would take a miraculous run that I am not sure that this group is up for.
Atlantic Division +650
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the absolute class of their Atlantic Division right now and it’s going to be a hard job for any group — let alone the Bruins — to finish the season ahead of Steven Stamkos along with the Bolts.
Boston’s final division title came in the 2013-14 season when the Bruins finished atop the Atlantic from the first year of the most recent branch realignment that saw the Detroit Red Wings join the Eastern Conference. The Bruins also ended the season with the most points at the league that year, making the Presidents’ Trophy — that’s something this team won’t be doing.
Complete OVER/UNDER 93.5
BetOnline appears to be directly on the ball with these OVER/UNDER point totals and I have not really found any that I love or find much value gambling. As mentioned, Boston had exactly 93 points last year and didn’t get much tangibly worse or better in almost any category. If you put a gun to my head, I would say UNDER as a result of parity I feel will exist among the groups battling for the wild-card playoff spots this year.
Brad Marchand to Lead the League in Goal Scoring +2500
Boston will somehow need to make up for the 30 goals they dropped when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks at the offseason and Brad Marchand could be the beneficiary. It’s a definite long shot with guys like Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin still in their primes, but Marchand ended sixth at the Maurice”Rocket” Richard Trophy race last year with his career-high 37 goals just 13 back of Ovi’s league-leading 50 and he’s still playing elite playmaker Patrice Bergeron, who seems to improve every year.
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