If you're not pumped about being a Bruins fan now....
...go sign up on the Habs board. I cannot remember being for pumped about the youth and future of these Boston Bruins. Not since the 97-98 season have I been so enthused with the youngsters wearing the spoked B.....
Raycroft/Jillson/Bergeron/Zinovjev.......Andrew Raycroft to me is more relaxed than a yoga instructor on valium. When Stan Fischler makes a comment about how quietly confident you are, you know you got something ....Nothing fazes this guy. He was off his game tonight IMO, and was saved by many goal posts, but he still won, without his best stuff....Just like a baseball pitching ace.
Jeff Jillson has become this team's best defenseman, already. Can he hold it up? Not sure, but this guy just looks the part. Smart, steady and pretty darn tough. Sure he makes mistakes, but he takes chances. You need this type, plus he'll only get better.
As far as Bergeron, I can't say enough. Hockey sense.....I'm not even sure what the hell it means, but he's got it. He'll check....He'll score...He'll set you up and he'll get in your face. Are we sure this guy is really 18? Are we sure he's not another Danny Almonte?
Zinovjev, on one pass tonight made the entire three years worth the wait. Again, you cannot teach the stuff I saw from him this evening. The "Wonder Woman" mental telepathy stuff with Sammy is frightening. Will he have the heart to stay over here and realize his full potential? I sure as heck hope so.
Then we move to the "other kids".....
I'll take a Mark Stuart, Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina and Lars Jonsson foursome as my best defenseive propects any day. Throw in Jillson, Boynton and a hopefully healthy Girard and you have the makings of a young, mobile, smart, tough defensive core.
I'm also not writing off Andy Hilbert, Martin Samuelsson and Ivan Huml. I think all three will be full season NHL'ers, whether here or somewhere else in a deal for more veterans...
Hannu Toivonen....Do I even need to say anything about how we feel about him? Raycroft-Toivonen will satisfy our need we've had since Moog-Lemelin.
Also, look to the future, the future NHL.. TWO-THIRDS of the entire player pool in the NHL will be free agents next season. TWO-THIRDS. Think about that for a minute. So, beyond this season, how much money do we have tied up? FOUR players, 6.8 million dollars. Shopping for players next year will be like finding the entire KISS CD collection in the bargin bin at Walmart. FOURTEEN teams already have over NINETEEN million committed.....Another Nine have over 12 million committed....So the Bruins will basically be able to pick their team. Of course we'll sign our core guys, and then we'll be able to supplement with whatever we want....
Oh, by the way, did I mention we scored FOUR freakin' third period goals against the defending Champs tonight, to win the game?
I am so-o-o-o glad I just shelled out the big bucks to get NHL Center Ice....ok, the Carolina game was a bit lackluster, and the first 2 periods of this game were typical Devils boring hockey, but it's a good time to be a Bruins fan. Excellent games on the Western road trip, and tonight's 3rd period rocked. Always nice to kick some Devils butts.
For the first time in NHL history, the 2004 Calder will be split 4 ways....Bergeron, Jillson, Raycroft and Zinovjev. I hope. We all hope
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.
by the way, this summer could be the time when OC goes out and gets us that solid 2 way Dman that we need. with all of those guys being free agents, there should be a couple of guys on the market that would be huge upgrades to what we have on the blueline.