The Countdown Is On!
T-minus three days until the real season begins in Boston!
Oh yeah and postseason baseball starts on that day, along with a football game featuring the local team, but those aren’t nearly as important.
IT’S HOCKEY TIME!!!!!
No I’m not being sarcastic (I know that’s a first). Thursday night signals the beginning of the best time of the year. The time where the Garden will be rocking, people will be chanting, and the best athletes on the planet will be performing in front of a packed and rabid fan base.
And no the Celtics don’t officially start for a couple more weeks.
I’m talking about the Boston Bruins – aka the team that no one talks about or even notices and most people don’t even care about. Which is a god damn shame, especially entering this season. There are plenty of reasons to notice, care, and talk about the 2017-18 Boston Bruins, and not just on the days that the Pats are giving up 45 points or the Sox and Celts aren’t playing.
First off, the NHL as a whole is just freakin’ awesome. It is clearly the most underappreciated sport in America. People don’t really understand how much fun hockey games are because it just doesn’t translate to television. And conversely, you really can’t see just how much these players do on the ice in front of your TV. These guys are freak athletes that do things on skates that most people can’t do on solid ground.
The atmosphere in the building is more hyped than you’d believe. I’ve been to a NBA Finals game with the original Celts Big 3 facing Kobe and the Lakers and that didn’t compare to a regular season Bruins encounter. Bruins fans not only love their team, they vocalize their love and their displeasure on a nightly basis. The Garden rocks in a different way when the ice is on the floor.
And that place could be rocking a lot this season, because the Bruins have one of the most intriguing teams in the NHL. While you haven’t been paying much attention, the B’s have collected an abundance of young talent, which made for an interesting and competitive preseason. Veterans have been battling with rookies for roster spots, with young players like Anders Bjork, Sean Kuraly, Jake DeBrusk, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Matt Grzelcyk possibly all cracking Thursday’s starting lineup.
The Bruins didn’t make a splash in the offseason like they did last year when they overpaid signed David Backes to a five-year deal. Instead, the B’s allowed their prospects to compete for open spots, and waited until the start of training camp to re-sign David Pastrnak to a six-year deal at a surprisingly reasonable price tag of $40 million.
Some of the names on the roster may not look familiar even to a regular Bruins fan, but that adds to the intrigue, especially in the early weeks of the year. Instead of placing the three best offensive players on the team on the same line (Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand), coach Bruce Cassidy moved Pastrnak to the second line with Czech teammate David Krejci, and will likely slot rookies Anders Bjork and Jake DeBrusk onto the first and second lines respectively. Bjork has been electric in camp and will likely see lots of opportunities to gel with Marchand and Bergeron, while DeBrusk has the talent to be able to cash in with the two David’s on the second line.
Backes will likely be on the third line with Ryan Spooner and Sean Kuraly, who burst onto the Boston scene with a two-goal performance in Game 5 of the B’s first round playoff series last season. Veterans Riley Nash, Matt Beleskey, and Tim Schaller could play on the fourth line, but youngsters Noel Acciari, Frank Vatrano, and Austin Czarnik are knocking on the door for playing time as well.
The abundance of quality forwards is a problem that the Bruins haven’t had in a long time, and signals the shift from the defense-oriented style of play the team executed with former coach Claude Julien to a more modern and uptempo style with Cassidy at the helm. That should add to the excitement surrounding the Bruins. We finally may see a team that can skate and score instead of one that looks painfully slower than the norm and needs to play a 2-1 game in order to succeed. The league has been trending towards youth and speed for years, and the B’s may have finally fully embraced the switch.
There’s a nice mix of young and old on the defense as well, with Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk pairing up with Zdeno Chara, Adam McQuaid, and Kevan Miller (Torey Krug will start once he recovers from a fractured jaw). The defense entered last season as a glaring weakness, but by season’s end it was a very strong unit, so expectations are high that the defense can continue to improve.
Although the Eastern Conference looks quite crowded again this season, this Bruins team should be right in the thick of the postseason conversation. And in the NHL, every team that makes the playoffs has a chance to win the whole thing, as the league has the most exciting and unpredictable postseason by far.
Now I’m not saying that the 2017-18 Boston Bruins are going to win the whole thing, but I’m not saying that they can’t either. Everything would have to break right for the B’s, but a run through the playoffs for the Bruins would be more likely than a run through the Warriors for the Celtics this season.
With this mix of young and old, the Bruins are definitely building something special for the present and the future. Sounds a lot like the other team that plays at the Garden and is getting all the attention doesn’t it?
It’s time to start paying attention to the Boston Bruins… because The Bruins Are Coming! The Bruins Are Coming! Thank God for Hockey! The Bruins Are Coming!
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)