With NHL training camps underway this week hockey fans can start to make their predictions. Last year the Penguins skated, to their second straight Stanley Cup .A seven game hard fought series over Nashville. The Predators were one , of the most surprising teams in the NHL last season. The start of training camp means every team gets a fresh new start. During the summer teams retooled and got ready for the upcoming season. Three teams to keep an eye on are Edmonton, Dallas, and Boston. Dallas and Edmonton were very active this past off season.For the Bruins they were fairly quiet. Boston was busy negotiating a long term deal for David Pastrnak. Still no deal has yet to be announced. Dallas was the busiest team this off season. The Stars added veteran goalie Ben Bishop. Bishop. Bishop was traded to LA at the trade deadline,but ended up signing with Dallas this summer. The Stars will have great depth at goaltending ,as Bishop and KariLehtonen will split the time. The biggest move was signing long time NHL coal Ken Hitchcock to a contract. Hitchcock’s experience will greatly help Dallas. With captain Jamie Benn,and Tyler Sguin the Stars should be much better than their 34-37 and 70 point record. Hitchcock has the experience to mold the Stars into a playoff team. Along with Bishop , Dallas acquired defenseman center Martin Hanzal,and forward Tyler Pitlick. Edmonton is another team to keep an eye on. The Oilers rewarded star center Connor Mc David to an eight year 100 million dollar deal. Mc David was was one of the leagues best players last year. The Oilers selected McDavid number one overall in 2015 Mc David and teammate Leon Draisaitl together make the Oilers a very scary team. General manager Peter Chairelli has got the Oilers back to respectability in just three years.If the Oilers can play solid defense in front of goalie Cam Talbot they will be a team to challenge the Penguins in the playoffs. Boston under first year head coach Bruce Cassidy is another team that will surprise a lot of fans. Currently the Bruins are in negotiations with star forward David Pastrnak. If the Bruins can sign Padtrnak theycould be one of the biggest stories in hockey. The Bruins have a strong goaltender in Tukka Rask. The Bruins also have one of the youngest teams in the league. After losing in the opening round last year to Ottawa gained valuable playoff experience. The Bruins are led by number one pick Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy joins a host of young talent such as Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril Austin Czarnik, Sean Kuraly, Rob O’Gara, Noel Accari , Frank Vatrano. If Cassidy can mold the veterans, with the young players the Bruins could be serious contenders in 2017/18.
Now that Bruce Cassidy has been named head coach of the Bruins, fans can only hope that they have the talent to get them to the finals. Cassidy replaces long time coach Claude Julian who was fired late last year. Many questions arise for this year’s Bruins team. First, does the young talent on the roster have the skill set to win at an NHL level? Is the defense deep enough to keep the Bruins in games Thirdly is the goal tending strong enough? Tuukka Rask started sixty- five games last year. Only thirty years old Rask, is still young enough to get the Bruins back in serious contention. The main strength of the Bruins is their offense. Ranked fifth overall in the NHL last year Boston didn’t make any big moves this past off season. Resigning forward David Pastrnak will certainly be a big to the team. Pastrnaks’ thirty four goals made him one of the top young players in the league. If Cassidy can mold the young players with the veterans then the Bruins should be right their come April. The Bruins have the twealth best farm system in the NHL Players like Charlie McAvoy,Brandon Carlo,Jakub Zboril, Tim Schaller and Noel Accari all made significant gains last year. They were good enough to keep the Bruins alive for five games in round one before losing to the Senators. Only time will tell for the Bruins. Cassidy was very succesful at Providence during an eight year span. In February the Bruins fired ten year coach Claude Julian. The knock on Julian was he lacked patience with his young players. Leadership is another strong quality that the Bruins have going for them. Veterans like Zedeno Chara, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, David Krejci , Dave Backes, and Rask should be a big plus for the young players going forward. If Cassidy can rest Rask and utilize his backup goalies then the Bruins could surprise a lot of fans. Cassidy took the team over for only twenty seven games last year. But when he did take over the Bruins started playing together like the Bruins of 2010/11 the year they beat Vancouver to bring home a Stanley Cup.
Goaltending Still Key Area of Concern For 2017/18 Bruins
Now that the summer of 2017 has come to a close, opening night of the 2017 NHL season is just around the corner. Free agency is pretty much over. For the Boston Bruins it was ralitively a quiet off season.For the Bruins getting forward David Pastrnak’s contract was the main objective over the summer. Negotiations between the Bruins and management are still going on. On a positive note at least the two sides are still talking.. Aside from from the Pastrnak deal goaltending is the main concern for this year’s Bruins squad. Eight year veteran Tukka Rask played in sixty five games last year. Rask posted a 37-20 record and a nifty 2.34 Goals Against Average. Not to mention eight shutouts and five over time games. At thirty years old Rask is ranked number fourteenth overall in the NHL,by Sports Illustrated. Pretty good company to be in. Since 2012 the Bruins have not won a playoff round. The last goalie to win a Stanley Cup was Tim Thomas. In 2012 the Bruins lost in seven to the Black Hawks.Ever since the Bruins loss to Chicago success has not found Tukka Rask . This past season the Bruins qualified for the playoffs for the first time in five years. Ottawa was the latest culprit to defeat the Bruins in five games last spring. Rotating goalies could be an option for first year head coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy took over for long time coach Claude Julian.Cassidy has backups Anton Khudobin, and Zane McIntyre in the wings.Khudobin was last years backup postiing an 8-6 and a2.35 Goals Against Average. McIntyre played in eight games last year and had no record. Rest is something the Bruins should consider. At thirty years old Rask still has a lot of playing time left.Khudoin is a dependable backup, with more playing time this could prove to be a key factor for the Bruins ths season.Counting on Rask to keep the Bruins in games could work against them this year. The youth movement has been the main subject of conversation this year. With a host of young talent on the roster the Bruins could have one of the youngest rosters in the league. Mixed with solid veterans such as Zedeno Chara, Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, and Patrice Bergeron the Bruins could be the surprise of the league this year.