The Boston Bruins are now next years NHL odds favorites following their 2010-11 season, which was quite a magical one. Plenty of suspense was involved as they needed to win three Game 7’s in the playoffs – including on the road in the Stanley Cup finals round – to hoist Lord Stanley’s mug.
There isn’t a whole lot that the Bruins need to change to get themselves into position topete once again. Most people would point to the fact that goal scoring is a big flaw, but they proved that theory wrong in the playoffs.
With a healthy Nathan Horton and Marc Savard, this team should be in contention once again in 2012.
The best goaltender in the NHL in Tim Thomas.
Make no mistakes about it, the main reason that the Bruins are the current Stanley Cup champs is because goaltender Tim Thomas posted not only a great season overall, but possibly the best season ever for a goaltender.
In the regular season, he set a new record for save percentage, then set a record for saves in the playoffs while posting four shutouts.
The Bruins will return virtually their entire team intact for next season. Their main unrestricted free agents are Michael Ryder and Tomas Kaberle. The only other UFA’s are Mark Recchi has decided to retire and Shane Hnidy wasn’t an integral part of the team.
The Bruins have one restricted free agent, which is Brad Marchand, but he fits into the budget as well as Kaberle and Ryder, if theye back for less money. Aside from that, the Bruins have their entire team back and they’ll have money to spend on free agents as well.
As far as Stanley Cup champs go in the salary cap era, the Bruins are in as good of shape as a team can be.
The Bruins have two main needs: goal scoring and some depth on defense.
The first might be addressed by the return of Savard – if he in fact returns. He’s suffered a pair of serious concussions over the last two seasons that may lead him into retirement.
If that’s the case, the Bruins could be players for Brad Richards in free agent, who is an excellent top-line center and a quality facilitator. The B’s need a man who can anchor the top line and also give their power play a boost, which is something that Richards is capable of doing.
The second need for the Bruins depth on defense. Zdeno Chara is an elite defenseman but beyond him, the Bruins have Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid. It’s not a bad corps, but another elite level defenseman – along with the return of Kaberle – is all they really need.
The Bruins will be in contention in 2012; there is little evidence to illustrate to the contrary. Bodog has Boston listed as 8/1 in their NHL Future Betting Odds to pull the repeat, with both the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins close behind at 9/1.
Some of the previous Stanley Cup champions who have won during the salary cap era (after the lockout season), such as the Chicago Blackhawks, werepletely cash-strapped and had to make major roster changes. The Bruins could potentially bring their entire team back and have money to spend in free agency, so they are in great shape.
With that in mind, the Bruins will be the favorite to win the Northeast Division once again and will have a big say in how the Eastern Conference plays out as well. Look for the Boston Bruins to be in the race again next year for the 2012 Stanley Cup.