Boston Bruins 2013-14 season preview: Things have never been better

Bruins Claude Julien
The Bruins return many of the same faces from last season and have their eyes once again set on the Cup. Credit: Getty Images

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final two out of the last three seasons (beating Vancouver in 2011; losing to Chicago in six games in June), we can safely say that the Boston Bruins have become the favorite to win the Eastern Conference in 2013-14.

They begin the pursuit of their seventh Cup in franchise history Thursday night against the Lightning at TD Garden (7 p.m., NESN).

With their recent postseason success, the B’s will also have to deal with something that has been foreign to them for most of the past decade: the pressure of being a powerhouse team. By returning 14 of the 20 guys that suited up in Game 6 vs. Blackhawks, including captain Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask, the Bruins have the depth and skill to defeat anyone in a seven game series. It helps that Claude Julien has quietly become one of the top head coaches in the NHL and the Bruins’ farm system looks as stocked as it’s been for years.

Some are worried about Boston’s new division: the Atlantic, which is the old Northeast plus Detroit, Tampa Bay and Florida. Playing the Red Wings four times a season is daunting, but exciting for fans. The challenge of that should be more than balanced out by the eight games against the cupcake Lightning and Panthers (who have Tim Thomas on a one-year deal, remember him?). One of the keys for the Bruins is not to fall into their usual regular season slumber: every team naturally goes through up and downs but with likely four other playoff teams in their division (Canadiens, Maple Leafs, Senators and Red Wings) they can’t afford to go into a prolonged slump for too long.

The other major new dynamic in Boston’s regular season is the break for the 2014 Olympics: the Bruins won’t play a game from Feb. 9 through 24. It’s hard to say how they’ll readjust when the NHL schedule kicks back into gear with many of the B’s likely representing their home country: Bergeron (Canada), Rask (Finland), Chara (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic) and Loui Eriksson (Sweden).

It, of course, takes time to build chemistry and to figure out each others’ games but solid veterans Jarome Iginla and Eriksson should fit seamlessly onto Boston’s top two forward lines. The infusion of youth in the form of Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Matt Bartkowski combined with a full season from Carl Soderberg, should help matters.

In the last two decades, things have never been better for the Bruins. The good feelings for the Black and Gold even extend off the ice where team president Cam Neely will reportedly reprise his role of “Sea Bass” in the Dumb and Dumber sequel. Any Bruins fan in their 20s or older has suffered through plenty of lean years, which makes this recent stretch all the more enjoyable.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Drug overdoses on the rise in New York…

Recently released health department numbers show more than one person a day in New York City overdoses on an opioid, such as heroin. From 2010…

National

Santa Fe city council votes to decriminalize marijuana

By Joseph KolbALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Santa Fe on Wednesday became the latest U.S. city to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, with lawmakers in the…

International

Egypt queries Mursi over documents "leaked" to Al…

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt is investigating jailed ex-president Mohamed Mursi in connection with documents that judicial investigators say were leaked to the Qatar-based Al Jazeera…

International

Ebola toll tops 1,550, outbreak accelerates: WHO

GENEVA (Reuters) - The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,552 people out of 3,069 known cases in four countries and "continues…

The Word

The Word: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie finally…

Well, everybody, it finally happened. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie went and got themselves hitched — according to noted scandal sheet the Associated Press —…

Television

TV watch list, Thursday, Aug. 28: 'Welcome to…

"Welcome to Sweden" wraps up its first season with a two episode run tonight, featuring a special appearance from the star's sister, Ms. Amy Poehler.

Movies

Interview: 'Life of Crime' star John Hawkes likes…

John Hawkes talks about playing a bumbling crook in "Life of Crime" and how he wanted his "Martha Marcy May Marlene" villain to be "bland."

Gossip

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married

The couple tied the knot in Chateau Miraval, France.

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

NFL

Giants vs. Patriots: 3 things to watch

The Giants wrap up their extended preseason campaign Thursday night by playing host to the Patriots.

NFL

Fantasy football: What to take away from preseason

The third set of exhibition games, which went down last weekend, is the dress rehearsal week.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…