Boston Bruins preview: First in Atlantic – USA TODAY
2013-14 results: 54-19-9, first in Atlantic, No. 1 overall
Story line: Bruins’ balance keeps them in the hunt
Arrivals: D Chris Breen (free agent)
Departures: RW Jarome Iginla (signed with Colorado Avalanche), D Andrej Meszaros (signed with Buffalo Sabres), RW Shawn Thornton (signed with Florida Panthers), G Chad Allen (signed with New York Islanders); D Corey Potter
More: Team power rankings
Goaltending: The Bruins got what they paid for in $7 million goalie Tuukka Rask (36-15-6, 2.04, .930) as he won the Vezina Trophy. He has a career .930 playoff save percentage. Niklas Svedberg is his backup.
Analysis: Last season, the Bruins were third in the NHL in scoring and second in goals against. They had the NHL’s third-best power play and eighth-best penalty killing. They would have been content to keep last season’s team together but lacked the cap space to re-sign Iginla. They lose grit with Thornton’s departure. But the Bruins hope they find improvement through the continued development of younger players. The Bruins are a balanced, defensively responsible team. Coach Claude Julien does a first-rate job of keeping the team focused start to finish. When the Bruins scored first last season, they won 84% of the time.
Breakthrough candidate: In his third season, Dougie Hamilton likely will be a 20-minute defenseman. Depending on his power play time, he could get 45 points.
Youngster to watch: C Ryan Spooner, 22, seems ready to claim a regular spot on the third or fourth line. He had 11 assists in 23 games with Boston and 46 points in 49 games in the American Hockey League.