Bruins Q&A: The 16 Day Countdown

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The Boston Bruins released their 2015 Rookie Camp roster on Tuesday, and are back in the TD Garden on Sunday, September 20th this year. It’s being aired on NESN, and we’re going to have the pleasure of watching them undress the New Jersey Devils. The Bruins, Habs 2015 Winter Classic tickets at Gillette Stadium are claimed to be about $250 dollars apiece this year. Season ticket and 10/11 game holders are granted access before the public. Come meet me at the balcony with the Black Plan. Until then, a little light reading for the anxious hockey community.

 

Who is the Bruins most important player this season?

Most people would go with Tuukka Rask. Bruins look like a mediocre team on paper right now, without their top 5 goalie in the league the Bruins are not even playoff contenders. He reportedly is feeling better after ending last years season with a sore back from carrying the team.

In a scary reality, Zdeno Chara is the Bruins most important player this season. The defense is looking bleak at best and he needs to be a true anchor for the first time since he shut down Evgeni Malkin in the 2013 series.


Ignoring this years suspect defense, he is still capable of being a top two defenseman. He has the reach, he has the size, and he has the experience to be a smart player for the Bruins. At the same time, this is the first time in a long time that his leadership skills will carry such importance to a developing new era of the blue line. If Chara goes down with injury, the next best defenseman on the roster is Dennis Seidenberg, and who knows which one of him well get come September.

Chara is the piece on this team that is holding the bridge intact, without him, this team will collapse in front of Tuukka Rask. No matter how defensively reliable Bergeron is, or how much offensive promise Pastrnak possesses, the Bruins will find themselves outside looking in again.

 

If the Bruins are slow out of the gate, is Claude Julien fired?

Yes.

It won’t be very early in the season though. Claude is going to have some time to put together the puzzle that is the Boston Bruins. Claude has yet to face such uncertainty going into a season. Neely & Co. will allow him a bit of a grace period to find chemistry, and tool with his line combinations. If the Bruins have a negative record come November, the Bruins have a decision to make. Either they fire Claude and get someone else behind the bench for the first time since 2007, or management make some changes to the roster they put out this year.

(Boston, MA, 05/20/15). Press conference where the Boston Bruins introduced Don Sweeney (center) as the new Bruins General Manager. Charlie Jacobs, (left) Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North's Boston holdings and the Boston Bruins and Bruins President Cam Neely (right)along with Sweeney took questions from the media. Wednesday, May 20, 2015. Staff photo by Ted Fitzgerald

At this point in the strained relationship between management and coaching, Claude has no more lives. If Chara and Rask go down with an injury, and the Bruins can’t find a way to win consecutive games, expect Julien to be out the door without warning. Unfortunate? Yes. Unfair? No.

This could be a good thing for the Bruins. Claude Julien has always been much more of a veteran’s coach. He like’s dealing with men, and utilizing their developed skillset within his system. Training and developing is not his strength. With the Bruins moving in a younger direction, it wouldn’t be a bad thing if management picked up a coach capable of developing these players. I’ve always been a big Dan Bylsma guy, I was hoping we’d sign him. He would’ve been the biggest offseason signing for the Bruins and right now I’m thinking he wins a Stanley Cup with Buffalo before Claude wins another wherever he’ll be.

 

Which new Bruin is going to become a fan favorite?

New faces Matt Beleskey, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes, and Zac Rinaldo are all starting their first full season with the Bruins this year.

Matt Beleskey is not going to find himself a favorite by many fans. Being our top free agent signing this year, people are going to expect too much from someone making $3.8 million over the next five years. His career high is 32 points people, let’s not get lost in his playoff “heroics”.

Brett Connolly wasn’t given a fair shot in Tampa, so he was shipped here for two second round picks. Connolly will always have expectations, as he was the sixth overall selection in the Seguin draft. We shipped out fan favorite Johnny Boychuk earlier in the season for what turned out to be two second round picks. Now it’s not a fair assessment due to the cap issues at the time, the different stages of their career, and different needs by the Bruins, but many people are going to ask themselves…would you rather have Connolly or Boychuk?

Zac Rinaldo is an interesting case. Part of me thinks he is going to be a nauseating blemish in the Don Sweeney tenure, but part of me thinks he is going to be a rock star on that fourth line. I’ve always enjoyed watching Rinaldo as a player. He’s quick, he’s aggressive, he fights, and he give 100% every time he touches the ice. Unfortunately he’s also the biggest liability in the league, and will probably serve more games in the press box ordered by the league than goals he’ll score this year. We’ll come back to this after our first home game against Montreal on October 10th. Neely and Co. are going to let him off his leash, and the crowd will go wild. The Big Bad Bruin’s aren’t as big without Lucic, and the addition of 169 pound Zac Rinaldo doesn’t help. The “bad” has yet to be seen this year, but they did a lot of it last year.

Jimmy Hayes is the front runner. The Massachusetts native played college puck over at Boston College and fans all over New England watched him score the overtime goal against Northeastern to win the 2011 Beanpot Tournament.

He’s a big boy, blue collared and a hard worker. He’s not going to throw his weight around as much as people hope, but wait for the goals and the jersey sales will skyrocket.

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