50. P's Become B's
With cap constraints hampering the Bruins' offseason, Chiarelli and Julien will have to introduce young blood to the roster. Expect playing time to increase for Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev, David Warsofsky, Zach Trotman, Seth Griffth, and more. Gregory Campbell has already expressed his willingness to move to the wing, so a quick, skilled 4th line could be more of a possibility than many think.
49. Will Rich Peverley return to the ice?
Hopefully he'll lace up the skates in time to get a nice warm reception at TD Garden when Dallas visits on February 10th.
48. Fresh Links Back to Normal!
No more "Look at this [player/coach/GM/owner/commissioner] taking the Ice Bucket Challenge!", or "Hayes Watch: 2014".
47. Torey Krug's sophomore season
I wonder if NHL Gamecenter will be able to stream Komrade Krug from Russia (with love).
46. Krejci Looking for a Payday
This is last of David Krejci's 3-year/$15.75mil extension, and he'll be looking to rake in some cash money. After a poor showing in the playoffs, look for Krejci to have a career year in 2014-15, possibly (hopefully) breaking the 70-point mark for the first time since 2008-09.
Is anyone NOT excited to see if the Swedish Sensation can make the jump from the AHL to the NHL this season? The Bruins will have an angry Finnoswede goalie tandem and it will be incredible.
44. The German Powerhouse Returns!
After nearly returning for the Eastern Conference Finals that never was, Dennis Seidenberg will be back with his team in game action this season. One year older, Seids will begin his 4-year, $16mil contract extension coming off his first major injury with the Bruins. With Boychuk up after next year, it'll be interesting to see how Seidenberg performs now that his $4 million AAV cap hit kicks in. Could Chiarelli move Seidenberg in a move to keep Johnny?
43. Bruins are on NBC/NBCSN 17 times.
And $43 is approximately 1/4th the cost of a single Loge ticket to opening night against the Flyers, via the secondhand market. If you don't have season tickets or a multi-game plan, you better pray you can pick up single game tickets via the box office.
42. The Finale for Jagr?
Everyone's favorite mulleted Czech is going to be 43 before the end of next season. While he led the New Jersey Devils in points by a mile in 2013-14, even the greats have to hang 'em up sometime. He's bound to pass Phil Esposito to break the Top 5 NHL goal scorers of all time this year, with only 13 to go, and if he's still creating plays at a good clip could be a trade deadline steal if the Devils are cellar dwellers again.
41. The End of the Meszároš-zoic Era
Andrej 3000 is now dressing for the Buffalo Sabres. Bartkowski is relieved.
40. Two U's, Two K's, Two Rings?
Tim Thomas won his first Vezina Trophy after the 2008-09 season, following up with a 2nd in 2010-11, along with a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup. But Tim Thomas had a larger window, with a young team that had playoff experience, and was entering their prime in 2011. Tuukka Rask won his first Vezina back in June, but doesn't have the luxury of a large window, as much of the 2011 team is in their late 20's/early 30's, or gone altogether. He can stop cannons, but can Rask cut Thomas' window in half and push for a Cup next year?
39. The sweet, dulcet tones of Jack Edwards' voice
What sort of crazy capers will our favorite announcer get up to this season?
38. Caron, my Wayward Son
Fingers crossed that Chiarelli can ship out Jordan Caron before the season and/or trade deadline. He's a former first round pick, but at this point I'd take a Marco Sturm-esque "future considerations" deal.
37. Patrice Bergeron
Just because. And also, he's in the last year of his 20's. Doesn't that make you feel old.
36. Dale Arnold's Social Media Recaps
Because who doesn't love a little awkward live television mixed with your sports?
The 35-year-old goaltender's tires are amicably pumped and ready for his first full season in Florida since 2006. Now Brad Marchand and the Bruins get to take on the former Canucks netminder four times. Watch out for magically rising wrist shots from the sideboards as Luongo battles Marc-Andre Fleury for goaltender most repeatedly embarrassed by the Bruins.
34. King Carl, the Swedish Chef
Cooking up scoring on the 3rd line. Give him Kelly, give him Paille, give him Fraser, he doesn't care! This Swede can do it all. But in all seriousness--if he makes the same progress he did throughout last season, look for him to be a matchup advantage on the 3rd line for Boston.
33. Captain Z Gets D Relief
With Boychuk, Seidenberg and Hamilton all healthy heading into the season, Big Z should finally be able to get some rest, and have fresh legs for the postseason. He'll likely need it, as Zdeno enters his 17th season in the NHL. While his ice time has slowly decreased in the last few season, it still sits around 24:30 minutes per game. Look for the defensive depth to bring that number down to about 22:30-23:00.
32. Over/Under on Games Adam McQuaid Plays
Between injuries and "Millertime" creeping up the depth chart, Darth Quaider might be on the outside looking in. Even if he can stay healthy, he may end up as trade bait before the (Imperial) March deadline.
31. New blood in the rest of the division
The two Florida teams are due to run with a lot of youngsters this year, and...okay yes basically I just want to talk about the fact that Tampa will have a first line with Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Drouin on it and that's very exciting. Florida roadtrip, anyone?
30. Tim Thomas to the Penguins?
By all accounts, it doesn't look like Martin Brodeur will be putting on a Pens sweater any time soon. But with Marc-Andre Fleury's postseason woes, wouldn't it make sense to bring in a proven veteran to provide some support in the crease for a team that's scrambling to make a deep run? New GM Jim Rutherford should be looking to make a cheap splash, and that would be Boston's favorite conservative. Let's hope so, as it would be pretty damn epic to see a Rask/Thomas showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals.
29. Pile on the Isle: The Finale
This is the last season the Bruins will play at the Nassau Coliseum before the Islanders move to the tailgate-less wasteland of Brooklyn (sorry, Servo.) Go big or go home, Isle-pilers.
28. Rule Changes
The NHL Board of Governors will be voting on two major changes before the season starts: a bigger trapezoid for goaltenders, and a change of ends/resurfacing of the ice before overtimes. The league hopes that this will increase scoring in OT and decrease the number of shootouts necesssary. (Somewhere, TJ Oshie sheds a single tear.)
27. Hamilton is the next Subban
In terms of looking for a contract. Next year, Dougie enters RFA status. He didn't wow in the points category last season, finishing behind both Krug and Chara, but his all-around game improved substantially throughout the season, and he looked solid in the postseason. If he can up his offensive game while still polishing his defense, he'll be a stud before he signs his next deal.
26. Seeing every team at least once
One of the only good things about the new divisions is that Bruins fans get to see every team at home, every season. Fans who also follow a Western Conference team can start saving their pennies already for when their other favorite team comes to town!
Pleeeease? Peter, make our dreams come true and give us the Dynamic David Duo. They'll instantly become the top Czech-ing line in the NHL.
24. The immediate impact of behind-the-scenes fancystats gurus
Whatever your opinion on these not-so-complicated numbers, the fact that several teams (including the Bruins) have hired stats guys is intriguing. Will they have an impact on team performance in the short term? Probably not, but if the Leafs continue being successful past October, we may need to re-think that.
23. Chris Kelly returns
After curling and dragging his way past a compliance buyout, Kelly remains on the Bruins roster going into 2014-15. Will he skate on the 3rd or 4th line? At center, or on the wing? Will he miss more than 23 games? Will he score double-digit goals again?
22. Shawn Thornton's Homecoming
Tuesday, November 4th will be Thorty's first glimpse of the visitor locker room at TD Garden in over 7 years. Regardless of how you feel about him, seeing Shawn Thornton on another team will be strange to say the least. Hopefully he'll dress for a game at TD Garden. If not in November, there's always the end of March.
21. Loui Eriksson on the 1st Line
It may be by default, but Loui on the first line is going to be pretty exciting. He needs to have a bounceback year after getting concussed twice and losing his 2nd line role last season. But based on his performance in Dallas, his talent is there. Expect him to be fed the puck a lot more this season, as Krejci now has two left shots on his wings. And Loui has a much better wrister than Lucic.
20. Thomas Vanek is finally out of the division, and so is John Scott!
19. The Sabres added two former Habs and are therefore still hateable!
18. Reilly Smith is all growed up
Smith surprised everyone with a 51-point season last year, and finished 2nd on the team in goals during the postseason. But after a flaming-hot start, Reilly slowed to a crawl with 2 goals and 11 points in the last 29 games of the regular season. It'll be interesting to see if he can perform more consistently now that he's got a year under his belt, and will be (presumably) skating alongside Bergy and Marchy for a full season.
17. Milan Lucic is in a contract year.
Looch's points-per-game numbers have slowly been declining since 2010-11, outside of a monstrous 2012-13 playoff run. Now the 26-year-old is entering the last year of his debatably overpaid 3yr/$18mil. contract extension. Look for a career year as the No. 17 train will be pushing for a long-term, money-making deal.
16. Color Me Brad
Brad Marchand was in a ton of trade rumors this offseason. He'll need to get back to the level he was at in 2012-13, when he was on pace for 40 goals. Also, it'd be nice if he could get the puck between the posts in some capacity in the Playoffs. Or, at the very least, don't block your teammates' shots.
15. Claude Julien's Beet-Red Face
For every missed call or bad penalty, there will be a frustrated face of a French coach on the Bruins' bench.
14. Terrible NESN commercials.
Prepare for the best & worst of what local businesses have to offer. Alex & Ani. Sal's Pizza. Roaster Pappers. And of course, cameo's from "B's Hockey Players"...
13. Terrible NESN Cross-Overs
What's worse than poor production from small sub shops based out of Lowell? Poor production blending baseball and hockey! Watch in amazement as Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy, Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley act as if they've never held a conversation with another human being before.
12. This trade is brought to you by #12
Kobasew. Kaberle. Rolston. Iginla. Boston loves picking up guys for low money on short years. Look for Boston to bring in New York Islander Josh Bailey or New Jersey Devil Damien Brunner to secure the 3rd line.
11. GREGORY CAMPBELL
He's on the WING, you guys! Guuuuuuuysssssss. The wing!!!
10. "I'm going to fucking kill you"-gate comes to a head.
The season starts with a rivalry-filled October, with Philadelphia and Toronto among the first ten match-ups of the season. But none will be more frustratingly glorious than the first regular season meeting between the Milan Lucic and Dale Weise when the Bruins take on the Montreal Canadiens October 10th.
The Bruins real all-time goal-scoring leader--because, screw Jarome Iginla--will turn 80 during next postseason. Johnny Bucyk wants to see a banner ceremony in Boston again. Don't let him down.
8. More of this.
7. Less of this.
6. The Original Six
Outside of an up-and-down Maple Leafs team, all Original Six teams are serious playoff contenders. The Blackhawks are consistently elite. The Bruins, Canadiens, and Rangers are Eastern Conference Finalist contenders, and the always dangerous Red Wings have made the playoffs for 23 consecutive seasons. It's always entertaining when the league's best teams are also the league's oldest and proudest.
5. Behind the B Part Deux
It'll be interesting to see what they fill this season with, since the offseason was filled with some lackluster moments. I wonder if the first episode will be 2 minutes on Jarome Iginla leaving, followed by 42 minutes of negotiating with Justin Florek. Even if this season is a dud, there's always...
4. Bear & The Gang Returns!
3. The Bruins' power play is....good. What?
The Bruins' power play ended the season third best in the league. THIRD BEST IN THE LEAGUE. Remember 2011? Remember the horrors of the power play in the 2011 playoffs? This is unreal. I want to watch this thing again.
2. Seeing old friends again.
Let's be real: we all have in-season hockey friends and off-season non-hockey friends. It's almost time to reunite with your pals from your favorite bar near the Garden, your best buddies in your section at the Garden if you're a season ticket holder, your coworkers stopping by your desk to talk hockey every few days again...hockey season is a good time for friends.
1. The Bruins are still a top team in the East.
Regardless of how far the Rangers and Canadiens made it last year, the Bruins are coming off a regular season in which they were the best team in all of hockey. They had a historically bad shooting percentage in both of their playoff series, and have likely had nightmares of ringing posts all summer. Then to add salt to the wounds, Jarome Iginla continued his cup chasing back to the Western Conference.
But Boston is still regarded as the team to beat in the East. If they can get over the mental frustration of having to play against Montreal, they're expected to at the very least make the Eastern Conference Finals, if not go further. 3rd & 4th line questions and cap constraints be damned, the Big Bad Bruins are back. And the last time they blew a 2nd round playoff series to a heated rival, they had pretty damn good results the following season.