Bruins And The X-Factors

(Photo Credit: Steph Phillips)

This season the Bruins opted to keep their roster relatively the same as they had with their Stanley Cup run. While they featured much of the same roster last season, there are a few key factors being installed this year. While we have all heard the news of there being yet another lockout, making this number three for Mr. Bettman’s career, we’re optimistic with the players around the League that there will be a season. Taking a look at the roster for the Bruins, there are two names that are going to make a large impact on the team this year, Nathan Horton and Dougie Hamilton.

When it comes to concussions, the Bruins are no stranger to either outcome when it comes to the healing process having forward Marc Savard still sidelined after a blindside hit from Pittsburgh Penguins’ Matt Cooke in 2009 and forward Patrice Bergeron missing a large chunk of the 2007-2008 season due to one.  The most recent, Nathan Horton. Horton originally suffered a concussion in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, but was cleared for action by last October.  However, as Horton took to the ice he still wasn’t acting quite like himself.  He was more hesitant in play-making and hardly took any shots.  Fans were beginning to wonder if he was really 100% better or if he had come back too soon.  Then November came along.  It appeared as though Horton had found his legs again and had just gotten back into the groove of things when Tom Sestito blindsided him and sidelined him for the remainder of the season.  Just ten days prior to the injury Horton had scored five goals in his past four games, matching his total from his previous 22 games in less than a week.

While Horton was present the team was averaging 3.54 goals per game, that dropped to 2.69 per game after the injury. To say that Horton is an important player and key aspect of this team would be an understatement.  As for the win-loss record, the Bruins were 31-13-2 prior and 18-16-2 afterward, not including the playoffs.

In July Coach Claude Julien announced that Horton had been medically cleared to play and would be ready for the start of the season.  If Horton can avoid having a slow start this season and come out roaring the way he did in December-January right before his injury, the Bruins will have two top scoring lines to work with for a more balanced offensive attack.  There is no question that Horton will be under an intense microscope and immense pressure to perform come the beginning of the season, but he won’t be the only one.

Although defensemen Dougie Hamilton‘s status remained unknown for some time this off-season, he will be a member of the Bruins this season, assuming he makes the team out of training camp.  The 19 year-old did state that he would go back to the OHL for the Niagara IceDogs if there’s a lockout to start the year, but he’s pretty sure he’ll be leaving Niagara to report to Bruins training camp once the CBA is finally completed. (via Joe Haggerty)

“My goal is to make the Bruins and hopefully I get that opportunity,” said Hamilton, who will miss out on the rookie preseason games on Florida that were recently cancelled in one of the first B’s casualties during the work stoppage. “Those were pretty fun games that got you ready for camp. It will be different without them, but it will obviously be different this year with the lockout. I’m just going with the flow.”(via CSNNE.com)

Hamilton has been working hard to make the Bruins squad with hardly a days rest in between camps.  He went from Bruins Development Camp to the Canada/Russia Challenge and then to World Junior tryout camp while training for NHL camp with the Bruins. He skates with his brother and some AHL and European players during the downtime in the summer. He was also a part of the  NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto.

With another young gun working so hard to make it into the NHL, posting  72 points in 50 games and then before posting 23 points in 20 playoff games, the Bruins are definitely adding defensive depth to their game.  Throw Tuukka Rask into that defensive mix and you are creating a concrete barrier that is going to be hard to get through in order to score this season.

 

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