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Poll: Can the Boston Bruins repeat as Stanley Cup champions in 2012?

Jun 16, 2011, 3:13 AM EDT

Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks - Game Seven Getty Images

While the Boston Bruins were far from some ragtag eighth seed going into the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, few people outside of the Massachusetts area expected them to beat the mighty Vancouver Canucks. It wasn’t really about the Bruins, either; most people gave Boston a reasonable amount of respect as they chose the Canucks based on their sterling regular season and improving play as the postseason went along.

Those expectations went out the window beginning in Game 3 at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston, though. The Bruins played the Canucks tough in the two opening games of the series, but they showed that they more than belonged on the same ice sheet once the games shifted to their home. They used top notch defense from Zdeno Chara, historically great goaltending from Tim Thomas and an underrated (and diverse) offensive attack to dominate Vancouver 23-8 overall in the series while winning in Game 7.

Of course, after seeing the Chicago Blackhawks need a Dallas Stars defeat on the last game of the season to even get into the playoffs after dominating on their way to last year’s Cup, many wonder what’s in store for the Bruins. While it is impossible to predict how much of an impact aging (and having a new bulls-eye on their backs as defending champions) will have on the team, an earlier study of their off-season questions shows that Boston is in a good position for next season.

Here is an updated version of those thoughts:

Boston will just try to make some tweaks

The Bruins roster probably won’t see too many huge changes. That’s not to say they lack a tough choice or two, though. Let’s take a look at their biggest free agent questions, keeping in mind that the Bruins will likely have about $8.3-$11.3 million to work with this summer.

Note: money amount refers to what they made in the 2010-11 season while their free agent status (restricted or unrestricted) is also listed.

Brad Marchand ($821K, restricted) – The agitating rookie was strong in the regular season (18 goals, 41 points) and nearly essential in the playoffs (19 points in 25 postseason games) as he lead all rookies in points. Despite Tyler Seguin‘s explosive two-game burst, Marchand has still been the best rookie in Boston. He scored seven points in the seven-game Stanley Cup finals, most notably two goals and one assist in a Game 7 that won’t be forgotten anytime soon … and certainly not at the negotiating table.

Michael Ryder ($4 million, unrestricted) – Ryder’s offensive production hasn’t always been reliable, but when he’s hot, he’s a dangerous forward. He produced two nice playoff runs (17 points in 2011, 13 in 08-09) that should really improve his value. That 17-point output ranked him fifth on the team. The Bruins face a much tougher call about Ryder than many thought going into the postseason, for sure.

Tomas Kaberle ($4.25 million, unrestricted) – Not only is Kaberle an unlikely returnee, he probably damaged his free agent value substantially in his belly flop in Boston.

Since we last checked, Marchand went from “in line for a nice raise” to “primed for a really nice raise.” While he can walk the line of agitation and self-destruction, the Bruins probably won’t hesitate to open up their wallets for him. Ryder has a great shot too while Kaberle is, again, a goner.

Kaberle was supposed to plug perhaps the Bruins’ biggest hole: a power play QB on defense. Boston might have the cap space to go after an unrestricted free agent, although the market for scoring defensemen is pretty weak. Claude Julien might not be crazy with error-prone journeyman James Wisniewski and the team might not have been blown away by free agent Canucks such as Christian Ehrhoff, Sami Salo and Kevin Bieksa, either.

Conclusions (plus the poll)

The most important thing is that the Bruins’ big guns are locked up. Thomas has two years left on his deal, Chara will likely retire by the time his contract expires and the team’s useful forwards have at least one more year left. Let’s not forget that Seguin could also take off in his sophomore season either with a giant step forward (like Steven Stamkos) or perhaps in a more incremental way (like John Tavares).

Since they aren’t likely to suffer many major losses in personnel, the biggest question becomes very simple: do you think they’re good enough to win it all next year? Let us know if you think the Bruins will repeat as champions next year by voting in the poll below.

  1. govtminion - Jun 16, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    I can’t think of any reason why the wouldn’t at least have a damned good shot at it. A few changes, sure- no Recchi anymore, that one hurts a little to be sure. I wish Ryder could stay, as frustrating as he is, but if he goes he goes. Kaberle… would we notice if he left at this point?

    The B’s roster isn’t changing much. So it’s more a matter of what the opposition does to keep up. We’ve already seen the Flyers make a good (and badly needed) upgrade in net, the Capitals may eventually figure it all out, the Penguins will get healthy… and that’s not even considering the West.

    I wouldn’t call it likely they win a second Cup next year- but as of right now, there’s not any good reason to say why they couldn’t, for sure.

    • miketoasty - Jun 16, 2011 at 7:44 AM

      Depends really on how much they keep their defense first mentality. The Bruins will have a lot of space to pick up players and (As much as I really doubt it) they may go after some more scoring which may mean that Julien may switch to a more offensive scheme which is absolutely not what the Bruins are about.

      The Bruins make their living off of amazing defense (Hell Vancouver couldn’t put 1 past Thomas in the absolute last game of the season, and we all know how offensively talented Vancouver is) and can choke teams especially their top line. I say they definately can make the playoffs interesting if they pick up one or two good scorers and let go of Kaberle and grab maybe Ed Jovanoski (Would be roughly the same cost depending on how much Ed wants) and just keep doing what their doing.

      Finally, govtminion the Flyers made a trade for Bryzgalov’s signing rights it does not mean they will get him, they just have a week before free agency to try and get him. Which may or may not happen depending on how much cap space they free up.

  2. hystoracle - Jun 16, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Congratulations Bruins and their fans for hard fought cup! Better enjoy it because come October we’re coming for you. Go Bolts!!

  3. homelanddefense - Jun 16, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    As a Bruins fan I voted NO. Its just so difficult to repeat in pro sports that I would never say any team will do it for sure.

    They will have a great shot at it though, and hopefully Savard (many considered him their best offensive player) will be healthy again. And most of their key players will be back.

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