With the Patriots succeeding without Tom Brady and the Red Sox on their way to the playoffs, expectations for New England’s hockey team will be extremely high – and unless they overachieve, Bruins backers will more than likely be disappointed with the product Cam Neely has assembled for the upcoming season. Expect head coach Claude Julien’s butt to be planted firmly in the hot seat this year as his job security may be in question if the Bruins fail to make the playoffs for the third straight year.
Boston missed the playoffs by just three points last season after finishing with a respectable 93 points but made few improvements to a roster with more than its share of rust. Zdeno Chara is far from the Norris Sportsbook he once was as he’s now on the wrong side of 40 and Tuukka Rask made serious regressions in a 2015-16 campaign that saw him finish outside the top 20 in save percentage.
If this team is to succeed, it will have to score and score a lot, something I’m not sure it’s capable of. Beyond the first line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Backes – that had a combined 90 goals and 173 points in 2015-16 – there is not a ton of goal-scoring experience on this roster. The projected second and third lines for Boston combined to score just 73 goals for their respective teams last season.
Stanley Cup +2500
The main question here is really this – can a team with one strong line, no defense and a struggling Tuukka Rask make the playoffs and win four straight seven-game series? I have some serious doubts and unless Rask returns to Vezina form, this still-rebuilding team has basically no chance to win another Cup this year.
Another hit to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup chances is that only one team in the last 20 years has missed the playoffs and then gone on to win the Cup the next season.
Eastern Conference +1200
For almost a decade, if you wanted to gauge how your team stacked up in the Eastern Conference, you used the Bruins as a benchmark. They earned conference titles in 2010-11 and 2012-13 and kept stacking their system by trading stars like Joe Thornton, Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin. That paradigm, however, has shifted as Boston is now rebuilding and trying to shed some of the dead weight currently holding the team down.
Making the Stanley Cup final and winning a third conference title in the last seven years would take a miraculous run that I'm not sure this team is up for.
Atlantic Division +650
The Tampa Bay Lightning are the absolute class of the Atlantic Division right now and it will be a tough task for any team – let alone the Bruins – to finish the season ahead of Steven Stamkos and the Bolts.
Boston’s last division title came back in the 2013-14 season when the Bruins finished atop the Atlantic in the first year of the newest division realignment that saw the Detroit Red Wings join the Eastern Conference. The Bruins also finished the season with the most points in the league that year, earning the Presidents’ Trophy – that’s something this team will not be doing.
Point total OVER/UNDER 93.5
Sportsbook seems to be right on the ball with these OVER/UNDER point totals and I haven’t really found any that I love or find much value betting. As mentioned, Boston had exactly 93 points last year and didn’t get much tangibly better or worse in any category. If you put a gun to my head, I would say UNDER due to the parity I feel will exist among the teams fighting for the wild-card playoff spots this year.
Brad Marchand to Lead the League in Goal Scoring +2500
Boston will somehow have to make up for the 30 goals they lost when Loui Eriksson signed with the Vancouver Canucks in the offseason and Brad Marchand could be the beneficiary. It’s a definite long shot with guys like Patrick Kane and Alex Ovechkin still in their primes, but Marchand finished sixth in the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race last year with his career-high 37 goals just 13 back of Ovi’s league-leading 50 and he is still playing alongside elite playmaker Patrice Bergeron, who seems to get better every year.
Odds as of October 5 at Sportsbook