The Boston Bruins are often defined by their defense. It’s been a staple for this team ever since Claude Julien took over before the 2007-08 season. It’s the hockey brand well-known to B’s fans as the “Big Bad Bruins”. This past offseason there weren’t as many changes as the forward group but there were enough to make defense a potential weak point for the Black and Gold. Losing Dougie Hamilton is a move(or in this case a lack of a move) that will be questioned for years to come. Clearly, Don Sweeney has enough faith in this group to trade away a potential building block for the future. Without further ado, here is a preview for the Bruins defense group and goaltenders:
Zdeno Chara: Once a menacing force on the blueline, Chara looked lost at times last year as his age started to show. For the tallest player in NHL history, the minutes have certainly taken its toll. At 38 years old, he doesn’t have much time left to be a good defenseman. Missing a significant amount of time last year due to injury certainly didn’t help the Bruins D corps and due to an upper body injury, he may have to miss some time this season. Don’t get me wrong, he is still the best D man on the Bruins but that window will be closing soon. Expect his minutes to stay relatively the same, maybe a few minutes less. He needs to be more consistent this season and must stay healthy if the B’s are to make the playoffs.
Torey Krug: Krug improved his defensive play last season after being more well-known for being an offensively-minded D man who was and still is a dynamo on the powerplay. Krug quietly had a very consistent year last season and is still getting used to being a top 4 NHL defenseman. Expect him to be paired with Chara or Adam McQuaid. Krug and the latter were a real solid D pair for the Bruins last season. Look for Krug to be heavily used on the powerplay and maybe even crack the top defensive pair at some point this season. He plays extremely well defensively considering his small frame.
Adam McQuaid: “Quaider” had a strong season last year when he was healthy. Health is the key for him. Bruins fans will tell you he is one of the most injury-prone players to play for the Black and Gold in recent seasons but always is a consistent defensive player, especially in his own zone. One of the most feared fighters in the NHL(just ask T.J. Oshie) McQuaid is one dude you don’t want to mess with. Expect him to be a top 4 defenseman this season most likely playing with Torey Krug. If McQuaid stays healthy, it will help the Bruins immensely especially if Chara misses significant time.
Zach Trotman: Trotman played 27 games last year filling in for some injured defenders. He totaled 5 points and played some decent hockey especially defensively while most of the time being paired with Chara. Look for Trotman to play a lot more this year and he will most likely become a regular starter for the B’s. At 6’3 he could play significant minutes, so I’ll be interested to see whether he is up to the challenge or not.
Kevan Miller: Miller was great in limited time last year, as he missed most of it with shoulder surgery. Hardcore Bruins fans like myself would tell you Miller is a Adam McQuaid clone and is an extremely solid play in his own zone which the Bruins missed last season. Miller should see top 6 time for most of the season and could move up if there’s another injury. Will be used on the penalty kill quite a bit this year.
Colin Miller: Acquired in the Lucic trade, Miller had a great year in the Kings minor league system with 52 points in 70 games, great offensive numbers for a defenseman. Miller had a very solid preseason and was used on the powerplay very often. He has decent size and should be a serviceable guy on defense. Hopefully he cracks the powerplay unit and my personal opinion is he will be in the opening night lineup at the Garden tomorrow.
Scratches: Players that will be healthy but not in the starting lineup(again this is totally objective):
Matt Irwin: Signed by the Bruins to a one year deal in the offseason. Irwin struggled at times with the Sharks last year but Don Sweeney took a chance on the 27 year old. He played considerable minutes in the preseason on the powerplay, scoring two goals in his first game with the B’s. Look for him to crack the lineup often this season, might even be a starter by the end of the year.
Joe Morrow: Hasn’t played enough for the Black and Gold for me to evaluate him but he is a very talented player that should see significant time on the ice this season. Could be a secret weapon on the powerplay if he sees time.
Tuukka Rask: One of the best goalies in the game played 70 games last year which is almost unheard of for a goalie in this day in age. Due to the poor backup goaltending, Rask was forced to play way too often and looked fatigued at times last year. Now with Jonas Gustavsson as the backup, Rask shouldn’t see 70 games again. With defense being a weak point, Rask will need to be at his best for the Bruins to get back in the postseason.
Jonas Gustavsson: A career back-up but an extremely capable one. Look for Gustavsson to be the main backup to Rask with Jeremy Smith playing a couple games. Bruins fans will remember Gustavsson as a backup for the Maple Leafs, but he should be in store for a good season with the Bruins. Not saying he will have Chad Johnson-type numbers but he’ll be a whole lot better than Nicklas Svedberg.
K. Miller-C. Miller