Welcome to the “5 things” series here at Two Pad Stack!
As we head toward the twilight days of summer, each team has some unanswered questions that need addressing before the season gets started. Luckily for you, the staff here at 2PS will bring those questions to light.
Today we take a look at last seasons Presidents Trophy winners, the Boston Bruins.
1. Can Loui Eriksson step up to the 1st line?
Let's put it this way, Eriksson was brought in to be a top 4 forward on this Boston Bruins team. Due to a slow start and various injuries that didn't happen, and Eriksson was pushed down to the 3rd line. But that demotion would prove to work wonders moving forward.
After losing Iginla to Colorado, there's a huge gap to be filled on that top line alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. You don't replace 30 goals without some serious thought. But Loui Eriksson is a proven 30+ goal scorer, and his time in Dallas showed us his top line capabilities.
Whilst playing on the 3rd line with Chris Kelly and fellow Sweed Carl Soderberg, Eriksson excelled. The chemistry was prefect between the 3, and now the only downside to Eriksson possibly getting bumbed up to that top line, is the dismantling of the 3rd line.
With the confidence gained from the later half of last season, Eriksson could be excellent on the 1st line. However, if it doesn't go according to plan, it could be problematic for the Bruins, who despite having a great farm system, would result in a whole reshuffle of the forward lines.
2. Is Zdeno Chara still one of the leagues most dominant defenders?
For the first time in a while, the last two seasons have shown us that the previous Norris Trophy winner might be losing a step or two.
There's no point hiding away from the fact that Zdeno Chara is getting older, and in doing so is getting slower. Big Z, now 37, was guilty of getting burned by smaller, quicker opponents during not only the 2013 playoffs, but last seasons postseason also.
He is no doubt still one of the leagues best Defenseman, with that size and reach, it's hard not to be. He also finished second in the Norris Trophy voting this season, so he's still doing something right.
But the Bruins have a decision to make - do they let Chara run his years out in Boston, or do they attempt to trade their captain whilst he still has the ability of a Top 10 NHL Defenseman?
3. Can Boston's youth at the back end continue to be a success?
Yes. The future for the likes of Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton and Kevan Miller is brighter than ever. The Boston Bruins have done everything right in handling their young talent, from having the right amount of veteran guys surround their younger players, to letting them play and work out their own mistakes through increased ice time. Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton could have break out years. If and when the Bruins look to ship off older guys, both of these young Defenseman could easily step in and become a top 2 option. Krug with his Erik Karlsson style of play, could in fact be the next Erik Karlsson.
Kevan Miller on the other hand is a tough, physical Defenseman, who's progress isn't quite as far along as the pervious two mentioned, but has shown great promise. He may be the favourite out of the 3 to drop off, but Miller brings the club the ability to drop the gloves and slug it out with the leagues toughest players, something Krug and Hamilton don't have.
The future is bright at the blue line.
4. Is the back-up Goaltending role an issue?
From Anton Khudobin to Chad Johnson, the Bruins have had two pretty good backups in the past few seasons. Unable to keep hold of them, they both appear to be taking on starting rolls at their new respective hockey clubs.
Now there's Niklas Svedberg and Malcolm Subban, two guys who haven't really proven a whole lot. So yes, the backup role is a bit of an issue. But it also creates opportunities for others to step up and prove their worth.
As it stands it seems as if Svedberg will be the guy to back Tuukka Rask up this season, but the Bruins have invested a lot of time into making Malcolm Subban a success, and would like to have him with the team for the long haul. Handling him with kid gloves, the Black and Gold seem reluctant to chuck him straight into the deep end.
5. Is the window of opportunity still open for the Boston Bruins?
The Bruins have been one of the NHL's strongest teams for quite a while now, with great team depth and coaching they will continue that feat for the foreseeable future.
As long as the Eastern Conference remains the weaker of the two conferences, you can only see a top 3 finish for the Bruins each year. Not only that, they seem to be set up for quite a long time. The Bruins have a number of young, talented players waiting in the wings. If brought through successfully, they could keep Boston at the top of the pile.
However, the idea of a speed threat still hasn't been addressed, and the Bruins have lost more than they have gained this offseason. So it appears as if they are already relying on their system to fill the gaps lost last year. Could it be too early? I guess we'll have to wait and see.
Until the Bruins are able to get a complete team playoff performance, similar to their 2010-11 Cup winning year, then it seems they may fall at the final hurdle once again.
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