One of the first season-preview magazines for 2010-11 was released over the weekend, and The Hockey News obviously holds the Bruins in high regard.
THN picks the Bruins to win the Northeast Division and finish third in the Eastern Conference behind first-place Washington and Pittsburgh. The world’s top hockey publication picks Vancouver to win the Stanley Cup, but says that in trying to find a consensus on the selection Boston and Pittsburgh also garnered some major consideration.
“Thanks to impressive depth at all positions, the B’s will shake off last year’s playoff choke job to win the Northeast,” THN writes on its breakdown page of the Bruins, which is written by colleague Mike Loftus.
Without digging too deep into this matter at this early date in relation to the start of training camp, there’s no doubt that at full strength the Bruins have the best top-to-bottom team in the division. Montreal obviously has questions about its goaltending, and Ottawa, Buffalo and Toronto might have worse offensive problems than Boston. If you subscribe to the theory that the Bruins are due to have a healthy season after paying the price in the injury department last year, then Boston should be in great shape.
Here are a few story lines we’ll be following an analyzing before and during the season in the division:
•How will Carey Price respond to being the definite No. 1 netminder for the Habs?
•Can the Sabres, with mostly the same cast, muster enough offense to support Vezina winner Ryan Miller?
•How does Jason Spezza respond to his summer of trade rumors now that he’s obviously going to be with Ottawa for the long haul?
•Will Toronto get Tomas Kaberle to waive his no-trade clause during the season in order to add some firepower up front, or will the Leafs have to trade one of their other defensemen (Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin) to land the top-line center they need?
While the Bruins definitely have an edge on their Northeast rivals, the margin is so slim that just one injury or one move by one of the teams could shift the balance of power. It should be a great race, with the Bruins starting in pole position.