The Washington Times - August 15, 2008, 10:15AM

Losing your second-best offensive player and the guy expected to be your No. 1 goaltender for the season before the calendar turns to November could make for a long season. To the Bruins, and specifically Claude Julien’s, credit Boston grinded its way into the playoffs and pushed the top seed in the East to seven games. Better yet, things might be trending upwards in Beantown.

BOSTON BRUINS

SEE RELATED:


2007-08: 41-29-12, 94 points (third in Northeast)

PLAYOFFS: Lost to Montreal in first round

WHAT WENT RIGHT: Zdeno Chara was a top-5 defenseman, and Dennis Wideman had a breakout campaign on the blue line. Milan Lucic became a fan favorite with his toughness. Guys like Lucic, Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Chuck Kobasew showed the Bruins might have the makings of a solid, young nucleus and the Bruins started to gain some momentum in the marketplace. Tim Thomas continued to prove doubters wrong with a solid season in net.

WHAT WENT WRONG: There was some scoring depth, but it was still an offensively-challenged team. Glen Murray was a disappointment, and was bought out after the season. Patrice Bergeron’s career was put in jeopardy with a nasty concussion.

ARRIVALS:RW Michael Ryder

DEPARTURES: RW Glen Murray, C Glen Metropolit, G Alex Auld

IMPACT PROSPECTS: D Matt Lashoff, G Tuukka Rask, C Zach Hamill, RW Blake Wheeler

CAMP QUESTIONS

Are Patrice Bergeron and Manny Fernandez ready?

Both missed most of the season with serious injuries. A healthy Bergeron makes the offense more dynamic, while a healthy Fernandez’s impact is less certain because …

… who is the starting goaltender?

Sure, Thomas was solid last year but people are always going to doubt his unconventional style. Fernandez makes about four times as much money, which could also play a role. Plus Rask could be ready for a more significant role.

PROGNOSIS: With the Red Sox, Patriots and Celtics in the same city, the Bruins are in a fight to be relevant. Making the playoffs last year and an exciting series with nemesis Montreal helped, but this year could be another positive step. Ryder can be an upgrade over Murray, and Bergeron could help make the B’s less boring – and it would be nice if Boston didn’t try to muck it up and win every game 2-1. The Bruins could surprise and move their way up the conference standings.

DEPTH CHART*

Marco SturmMarc SavardMichael Ryder
Phil KesselPatrice BergeronChuck Kobasew
P.J. AxelssonDavid KrejciShawn Thornton
Milan LucicPetteri NokelainenPeter Schaefer
Zdeno CharaDennis Wideman
Aaron WardAndrew Ference
Mark StuartShane Hnidy
Matt LashoffAndrew Alberts
Tim Thomas
Manny Fernandez

 

*NOTE: This is not necessarily an attempt to guess line combinations