Bruins 2011-12 Season Preview: The Forwards

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 29: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins takes the puck as Milan Michalek #9 of the Ottawa Senators defends on September 29, 2011 at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

 

The biggest question about the forward corps going in to the 2010-11 season was what life would be like without Marc Savard and how they would recover from a season that left them starving for goals. One date with the Stanley Cup later and those questions faded into the yelling crowds surrounding the parade route. But as the new season approaches the Bruins will be looking to defend their title and the questions facing this year’s forwards will be key to the defense of the cup.

David Krejci and his 62 points filled in admirably in Savard’s absence leading a top line that along with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton combined for 177 points over the regular season. The question with Krejci is that as the newly minted top center he must be prepared to continually improve on his point totals, especially his goal scoring. Facing restricted free agency next season his still has much to prove. He certainly has the talent, only two seasons removed from his breakout 73 point season, and his 12 playoff goals shows that he can hit his spots but as a top center for a defending Stanley Cup champion it remains to be seen if he can reach point-per-game status.

 

Whatever expectations are on Krejci weighs double on Tyler Seguin. The former second overall draft pick showed flashes of brilliance over the course of the season including a dazzling two game playoff performance that left many with daydreams of what could be, but the fact remained that he struggled to adjust to the speed of the NHL.

With a playoff run under his belt and an offseason that included intense workout sessions with Gary Roberts Seguin enters this season knowing he still has something to prove. He led the Bruins in pre-season goal scoring and is slated to start the season on the wing. The Bruins are counting on him on finding his scoring touch.

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand again line up on the second unit minus old-timer Mark Recchi. Replacing the retired Recchi is speedy winger Rich Peverley. The added speed on this line can prove to work wonders on both sides of the ice.   

The most interesting story concerning this year’s forward corps though can be found in the debate over promising prospect Jordan Caron and Montreal castoff Benoit Pouliot. Caron has the kind of two-way game that head coach Claude Julien loves and his ability to serve on checking or scoring line makes him extremely versatile. Despite his proven attributes though he does not have the skill ceiling that Pouliot has, the former fourth overall draft pick certainly has the size and shot to succeed in the NHL but in his five season career he has not been able to warrant the hype.

He has yet to record a 20 goal season but at just 25 years old and in a system that shouldn’t punish him for hitting someone the Bruins believe he can find his niche in Boston. And at just one million dollars he is a cheap side project that can pay big dividends if it works. One would suspect that Caron and Pouliot would share time as a third line wing with Pouliot perhaps earning the first crack at it with a few more seasons under his belt than the rookie.

The biggest advantage the Bruins forwards has was their balanced scoring, with a majority of the lineup returning it should remain so. What remains to be seen is whether winning the cup provides the kind of swagger that leads to breakout seasons or a reason to settle for mediocrity.       

 



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