It felt like forever since I last wrote this article. We've been through a lot since I wrote this last year, but let's first take a look at last year's predictions.
Tuukka Rask will finish the year as the starting goal tender
Zdeno Chara wins the Norris
Tyler Seguin scores 25+ goals this year
Milan Lucic DOES NOT score 20+ goals this year
Bruins win the East with 103 points
Well, I ended the year with one absolute prediction. Seguin scored 29 goals last year, leading the Bruins in that category. I was close on Chara winning the Norris as he was nominated (and debatable should have won) and the Bruins finished second in the East with 102 points. I was off on the Rask one and the Lucic one as well. Rask didn't end the year as the starting goalie and Lucic scored 26 goals, so 1-2-2. I'm the Columbus Blue Jackets of predictions. So lets take a shot at five new predictions for this shortened, 48 game season:
After the jump, my predictions...
1. Tuukka Rask Will Win The Vezina
Boom, lets come out of the gate like wildfire. Everyone is asking themselves if Tuukka Rask can handle being "the man" in net for the Boston Bruins. They're wondering if he can handle a "full workload" instead of the usual back-up role. Here's the thing, Tuukka isn't getting a full workload. Rask will probably play somewhere around 36 games this season, with Khudobin playing the rest.
It's not like Rask hasn't gone this road of being "the man" in net. When Tim Thomas got hurt in 2009-2010, Rask played 45 games (39 of those were games he started) and led the league in goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931). I know that some of you are already sighing and saying "Well Greg, you dummy, that was like three seasons ago" and to you I reply with a scoff!
Rask was one of the twelve Bruins to fly over the pond and play some hockey and he played pretty well. Rask posted a 6-2 record with a 1.85 goals against and a save percentage of .936 while in the Czech Republic. Yes, he did get injured but it was nothing serious and he was back playing after a few days.
I think in a shortened season, Rask will basically have the same workload he's used to and will prevail behind Boston's usually strong defensive play.
2. Boston Doesn't Win The Northeast Division
Since the 2008-2009 season, the Bruins have won the Northeast Division three times (out of four season). In fact, they've finished first or second in the conference twice in those four seasons but this year the Bruins will not win the Northeast Division. After looking over everyone's roster, I have a sneaky suspicion that the Buffalo Sabres, yes THOSE Buffalo Sabres, will win the Northeast.
On paper, the Sabres have one of the best goalie tandems in the NHL. Yes, I know the city of Boston and we here at Days of Y'Orr love to equate Ryan Miller to an emo child, but he's a solid goaltender. Miller finished 23rd in goals against average at 2.55, 21st in save percentage at .916 and had an underachieving Sabres team in front of him. Hell, even Enroth finished in the top 20 in save percent with .917 clip. The Sabres can stop the puck.
The Sabres bring back a 30 goal scorer (which no one achieved on the Bruins last season), two 20 goal scorers and Cody Hodgson (who I think is ready for a breakout season). Take that and add it to another season of Tyler Myers growing into his role as a shutdown defenseman and experienced defensemen like Jordan Leopold, Christian Erhoff (who is vastly overpaid) and Robyn Regehr, they may actually have some depth at the blue line.
Honestly, in a shortened season, this division is anybody's game. With guys like Vanek and Stafford, who continually seem to punish the Bruins, the Sabres could ride a winning streak or two to a division title.
3. Tyler Seguin Will End Up Top 10 In NHL In Goals
This is purely a feeling I have, but man, Seguin is going to do some special things this season. I tweeted out that I think Seguin will have an MVP-caliber season and I think I'm going to be pretty spot on here. Much like Tuukka, Seguin was one of 12 Bruins to head over the pond and play hockey for someone else. He played 29 games for EHC Biel, scored 25 goals and ended up with 40 points. That's an insane amount of production in any type of league outside of Hockey Town in Saugus.
Boston media as already been reporting that Seguin is visibly faster than everyone else out on the ice (whether that speaks to everyone else's conditioning is a whole different topic altogether) and the extra work obviously kept his game fresh.
I think this will be his year. Last season we saw glimpses of what he could become while scoring 29 goals in the process. Yes, there are some maturity issues that he may need to get over, but he's still a young kid. Oh wait, like I said, he still has maturity issues. Either way, the kid can play and I think this will be the season he goes ham. Yes, HAM!
4. Dougie Hamilton Will Not Live Up To Your Ridiculous Expectations Of Him
Shocking news from me to you: Dougie Hamilton is not the second coming of Bobby Orr. For some reason, people in Boston build these poor rookies up to be studs and then immediately bash them when they don't live up to those studly expectations. Remember Seguin's first year in Boston? People were believing he was going to score 40 goals and re-ignite the Bruins lackluster power play. Instead he learned the game and some people questioned if he was the real deal.
Look at Malcolm Subban, a guy who hasn't even played in one NHL game yet. He had a decent World Juniors campaign and is having a great year in the OHL and people are questioning the Bruins for even drafting him. It really makes me wonder if people pay attention at all, especially when it was widely known that Subban is still 3-4 years away from making an appearance on a Bruins roster.
Forgive me if I am blowing this out of the water, but I think people are going to vastly overestimate Hamilton's first year and then end up calling him Tomas Kaberle or Joe Corvo. It's happened before with Bruins fans, why won't it happen again?
5. David Krejci Will be Traded This Season
I think the David Krejci experience ends in Boston this season. I believe that David Krejci is overpaid for what he brings to the ice for the Bruins. I feel that he's not a #1 center and shouldn't be paid as such. There is absolutely no substance behind this prediction other than I would love for it to happen. If you're wondering who the centers would be on this team, look no further than Bergeron, Kelly and Peverley. If you're acquiring a winger for Krejci (hello Bobby Ryan!) then you can just fix the lines accordingly and go from there.
I'm probably reaching at this point, but Jesus Christ where has Krejci gone?