For all intents and purposes, fall is here. The NFL regular season has begun with the Patriots looking to go back-to-back, the MLB playoffs are right around the corner with the Red Sox in the middle of AL pennant discussions and training camp starts on Thursday for the Bruins. Their co-habitants of TD Garden-the Celtics-figure to have much more focus on them in 2017-18, which is understandable given that they acquired a star in Gordon Hayward and a legitimate superstar in Kyrie Irving, over this past whirlwind off-season. Assuming that the B’s can finally hammer out a deal with their talented young winger David Pastrnak (somewhere in the neighborhood between 6 and 8 years) which has been hanging over their collective heads since bowing out of the playoffs in April, there is plenty for the Black and Gold to be excited about in regards to their upcoming campaign.
There are a few not that far-fetched reasons that the Bruins could even be a Cup contender in ’17-18.
1. Hockey is crazy
The first doesn’t have that much to do with the team itself, it’s much more of a reflection of the unpredictable nature of the NHL (unlike the NBA and NFL). Yes, the Penguins have defied logic by winning consecutive Cups but that’s nowhere near the norm for the NHL. I think we can safely assume that Pittsburgh won’t win its third Cup in a row so that leaves a wide-open race both in the league in general and the Eastern Conference in particular. After all, the Nashville Predators went to the Stanley Cup Final last spring while the Pens had to survive a Game 7 vs. Ottawa in the Eastern Conference Finals. Who could have possibly predicted any of that going into last season? That gives good but not great clubs like the Bruins the semi-realistic hope that they can go on an unforeseen playoff run that ends deep into the spring of 2018.
2. A good blend
Moreso than in recent history, the Bruins finally have a good mix of seasoned veterans and young guys just starting to figure things out at the NHL level. For instance, defensemen Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo could potentially be franchise cornerstones for many years to come. Moreover, the Providence Bruins (Boston’s AHL affiliate) made the third round of the playoffs last season, meaning their players that have a chance to be on the B’s opening night roster on Oct. 5 vs. Nashville already have some valuable experience in big games.
3. The last hurrah
Finally, it feels like a last ride of sorts for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci to all be together on the same team - so perhaps it would be poetic for that accomplished group to produce another memorable season in the Hub. Marchand and Bergeron are two of the best players in the world at what they do while Rask and Krejci aren’t as consistent, but they can still look like world-beaters from time-to-time. Chara is one of the most diligent and prideful professional athletes that Boston has ever seen, so you can bet that he’ll put everything he has left into however much time he remains as captain of the Bruins.