– Good afternoon and welcome to Part II of Hockey Independent’s Boston Bruins’ season preview. In Part I of the series, we took a look at the forwards who will suit up for the Black and Gold this season. Today’s piece will feature individual predictions for both the defense and the goaltenders.
27 Dougie Hamilton — 7 goals, 18 assists
- After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 2013, Hamilton struggled down the stretch and was even relegated to the press box as a healthy scratch throughout most of the postseason. With a glut of young blueline talent already in the fold, a trip to Providence for at least half the season could be the best move long term for both the Bruins and their former first round draft choice.
33 Zdeno Chara — 11 goals, 33 assists
- One of the most intriguing storylines of the 2013 preseason has been the dynamic of Boston’s newly-formed power-play unit. Throughout much of this year’s exhibition schedule, Chara has been used in front of the net with the man-advantage, as opposed to his traditional role on the right point. How much head coach Claude Julien will deploy this strategy remains to be seen, but it could be the spark that finally ignites a Boston power-play that’s struggled mightily over the last four seasons.
43 Matt Bartkowski — 3 goals, 20 assists
- After nearly being sent to Calgary at the trade deadline, Bartkowski used the drama surrounding Iginla-gate to fuel an impressive late-season turnaround. Throughout the final stretch of the year and even into the playoffs, Bartkowski displayed incredible poise with the puck and an ability to contribute at both ends of the ice. I’d keep an eye out for a break-through year from the former Ohio State Buckeye.
44 Dennis Seidenberg — 4 goals, 19 assists
- Typically one of Boston’s best defensemen, Seidenberg struggled, very uncharacteristically, throughout the Stanley Cup Final last summer. Matched up against a Chicago top line featuring both Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, it’s kind of hard to blame him. Now in a contract year, expect Seidenberg to bounce back just fine.
47 Torey Krug — 10 goals, 30 assists
- After appearing in just one game throughout the entire regular season, Krug was thrust into the spotlight in round two of the playoffs when Boston’s defense was crippled with injuries. So, how did the 22-year-old rookie respond? Incredibly, scoring four goals and adding two assists in his first seven career postseason games. With elite speed, tremendous on-ice IQ, and great vision, Krug has all the tools to one day emerge as a superstar on the Boston blueline.
54 Adam McQuaid — 3 goals, 7 assists
- The hard-nosed McQuaid will face stiff competition for ice time this year, with the emergence of faster, more offensively-inclined blueliners like Krug, Bartkowski, and Hamilton. But his blend of toughness and leadership is something the Bruins can ill-afford to remove from the lineup.
55 Johnny Boychuk — 11 goals, 11 assists
- After a breakout postseason performance in which he scored six times the amount of goals that he did in the regular season (in half the number of games), Johnny Boychuk could be on the verge of a huge year. With a blistering slapshot and a knack for delivering bone-jarring hits, look for Boychuk to enjoy his best statistical season in a Bruins’ uniform.
86 Kevan Miller — 0 goals, 1 assist
- Tough, physical AHL veteran Kevan Miller has made the cut after an impressive showing in the preseason, and will likely stick around as Boston’s extra defenseman. In the event of an injury, he could easily step in as a serviceable bottom-pair replacement.
30 Chad Johnson — 3.05 GAA, 12 Games Played
- After being brought in this offseason to challenge rookie Niklas Svedberg for the back-up spot, it appears that Johnson may have taken the job from him. However, with great goaltending depth in the system, one would expect Johnson to be on a relatively short leash as Boston’s No. 2 netminder.
40 Tuukka Rask — 2.15 GAA, 68 Games Played
- With last year’s incredible playoff performance now in the rear-view mirror, and a 8-year, $56 million dollar contract to show for it, Rask is expected to be one of the NHL’s top goaltenders this season. Expect head coach Claude Julien to use his superstar netminder as frequently as possible.
72 Niklas Svedberg — 2.75 GAA, 4 Games Played
- Last season’s AHL Goalie of the Year appeared to be the obvious choice as Tuukka Rask’s back-up in 2013-14, but was sent back to Providence earlier this week. In the event of an injury, Svedberg should be ready to step into an NHL role immediately.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.