It's that time of year again. Time to get your sweaters on, cuddle up under the covers, and watch men of all shapes and sizes do things on ice skates that most of us can't do at all. It's time to see two guys (or in some cases an entire team - goalies included!) beat the snot out of each other just to change momentum or pump their teammates and their fans up. It's time to hear Jack Edwards yell to an opposing player "Get up!" after they have fallen to the ice erroneously, and to hear Dave Goucher say anything with the best voice in radio (my personal favorite was the Bergeron call after the game winner in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs). It's hockey time!
While it feels like just yesterday that the Bruins were making one of the most improbable and unbelievable comebacks in sports history - it's actually been just over four and a half months - or breaking our hearts in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals - it's been about three months - another season is starting this week. Making their second Cup appearance in the past three seasons wouldn't normally garner a huge overhaul of the roster, but the Bruins have made lots of changes to try to contend both now and in the future.
2012-13 1st Line: Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
2nd Line: Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Tyler Seguin/Jaromir Jagr
3rd Line: Rich Peverley - Chris Kelly - Chris Bourque/Jordan Caron/Jay Pandolfo/Seguin/Jagr
4th Line: Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Defensemen: Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg - Andrew Ference - Johnny Boychuk - Adam McQuaid - Dougie Hamilton - Matt Bartkowski - Torey Krug
Goalies: Tuukka Rask - Anton Khudobin
2013-14 1st Line: Lucic - Krejci - Jarome Iginla
2nd Line: Marchand - Bergeron - Loui Eriksson
3rd Line: Carl Soderberg - Kelly - Reilly Smith
4th Line: Paille - Campbell - Thornton
Defensemen: Chara - Seidenberg - Boychuk - McQuaid - Hamilton - Bartkowski - Krug
Goalies: Rask - Chad Johnson
*RW Jordan Caron and D Kevan Miller are also on the active roster to start the year
Here is a quick look at some of the major additions to the Bruins' roster this season:
· The Bruins' biggest move in the offseason was to trade the #2 overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft Tyler Seguin along with Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser (who was one of the last players sent to Providence in training camp), and Joe Morrow (who will also be playing in Providence to start the year). Although Seguin is only 21 years old, he had already obtained a reputation as having a lack of maturity off the ice and a lack of aggressiveness on the ice, often avoiding contact seemingly at all costs. Eriksson would seem to fit in more comfortably with coach Claude Julien's style of aggressive forechecking and hitting, and has the talent to make the Bergeron-Marchand line one of the most dangerous lines in the league. Eriksson has scored 25 or more goals in his last four full seasons (not counting last year's lockout-shortened season), with 70+ points total in three of those seasons. The Bruins were yearning for someone to fit in on that second line during the entire 2012-13 season, and Eriksson is primed to be just that man in 2013-14.
· Jarome Iginla coming to Boston was supposed to happen during the trade deadline last season, as the Bruins thought that they had a deal in place with the Calgary Flames that would send the star winger to the team for defenseman Matt Bartkowski and others. But Iginla changed his mind and went to Pittsburgh instead, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of both Bruins fans and especially GM Peter Chiarelli (who got into a public spat with the front office of the Flames). Four months later, along with a sweep in the Conference Finals by the Bruins to his Penguins, Iginla changed his mind yet again and signed a one-year deal with the B's. He replaces Nathan Horton on the first line, and will be centering a power-play unit that could halt all of the Bruins' issues on the man advantage. His career numbers more than speak for themselves, as Iginla has topped the 50 goal mark twice, had 90+ points three times, and scored 10 or more power play goals in ten of his 16 seasons in the league. He may garner some boos from the Boston faithful who still remember him jilting the B's for "greener pastures" in Pittsburgh, but that will end after a couple of games (and a power play goal or two).
· On a team that added a future Hall of Famer and a budding star, the biggest addition to the Bruins might be a guy who they added at the tail end of last season. Carl Soderberg signed with the Bruins in April after dominating the Swedish Elite League, but only appeared in six regular season games and filled in for an injured Patrice Bergeron during the Stanley Cup Finals. Soderberg had a tremendous training camp, netting three goals during the preseason, including both goals in a shutout win against the Bruins' newest division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. His strong showing in camp, along with his improved fitness and his rapidly increasing comfort level with the level of play in the NHL, puts Soderberg in line for a breakout season in black and gold.
· Another "addition" to the team will ultimately be whomever becomes the second alternate captain, joining alternate Patrice Bergeron and team captain Zdeno Chara to lead the squad. Although the team lost two players on its top two lines this offseason, the biggest loss in the leadership category was definitely Andrew Ference. Ference signed with the Edmonton Oilers this season, and was recently named captain of the Oilers. Being named captain of a hockey team is a huge honor, and there is no doubt in the minds of all Bruins fans that Ference was a terrific choice for captain in Edmonton. In the past, the Bruins have rotated who garnered that second "A" on their sweater, with both Chris Kelly and Ference wearing the "A" patch last season. There are many candidates on this year's squad for second captain, with no word coming out yet as to whom the team will vote as their second alternate. In my opinion, there is no one who is more fitting to be an alternate captain of this team than Gregory Campbell. His heroics during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, where he broke his leg blocking a shot and stood out on the ice to finish the rest of his penalty-killing shift skating around on one leg, symbolized why hockey players are a different breed of athletes. The willingness to sacrifice everything for your teammates is what being named a captain is all about, and there would be no greater "addition" to the 2013-14 Boston Bruins than to stitch that "A" onto a guy like Gregory Campbell's sweater. Just thinking about that play gets me fired up for the coming season, so let's drop the puck, drop the gloves (but leave the helmets on please), and get the 2013-14 NHL season underway! Let's Go Bruins!!!