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10-25-2003, 06:50 PM
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It's early still, and there's still some fundamental issues that need to be addressed as well as a concern about the number of core players who are pending UFAs, but yeah, there's tons to be happy about.

If by chance Zinovjev can adjust to the NHL effectively and contribute on a line with Samsonov, then the Bruins will have just answered a huge question. One of their burning questions was their second scoring line -- the B's needed to spread out their offense and remove some of the attention and focus the opponent had on Thornton & Murray. When the opposition cannot key in on the lone element of your attack, you have just increased your chances to strike. This, combined with the fact that the Bruins are getting solid goaltending that seems void of the soft goal we've seen in season's past has increased the likelihood that they can compete in every game.

The one element the team needs to address is speed and skill on the backline. It's not critical to make moves right away, but it's a fundamental issue that will be exploited in the playoffs if left unchecked. If the Bruins were to solidify this weakness, just think about it, with the ability to quickly transition and rush the puck, not to mention have the late man swoop in for loose pucks, the Bruins could have an unstoppable attack. But there are other elements of the game which the B's could greatly benefit from having speedy, skilled defensemen, such as with the critical man to man coverage needed in the defensive zone against quick, skilled opposing forwards. Anyhow, it's important to note that team defense can only carry you so far, then it comes down to the core competence of your defensemen. Competitively speaking, the quality and balance of defense is still the Bruins biggest concern.

But as of now, the B's can get by. They can continue to concentrate on finalizing their top 3 lines and really getting into a groove. It's early still, but with Raycroft, Jillson and Bergeron having an impact and Zinovjev on the cusp, the Bruins could end up being the surprise of the East.

Something interesting to watch will be what happens with the extra bodies. If Zino plays well and takes a regular spot on the second line with Samsonov & Lapointe, and If Bergeron stays put, then the B's will have Zamuner, Green, Grosek, McCarthy & Donato on their hands. I guess you could say that's a good problem to have. Perhaps it will end up giving the Bruins one of the best 4th lines in the NHL -- Green centering Zamuner & McCarthy.

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