A mere three regulation losses through 21 games and more goals scored than 24 other NHL teams; sure, a few pundits saw the Boston Bruins as an improved and underrated team, but did anyone see this coming?
Boston has nine players with at least 10 points. Only San Jose (11), Detroit (10), Vancouver (10) and the Rangers (nine) can make such a claim. Marc Savard has a couple of 95-plus point seasons under his belt, so the fact he has 27 points already isn’t much of a shock – it’s the players around him who have been surprising.
Phil Kessel’s point production has him on pace to finish in the mid- to low-60s. Impatient poolies have been clamoring for a breakout season from him ever since he made the NHL as an 18-year-old. Frankly, I figured it would happen next year, but we’re seeing it now. He’ll eventually be an 85-point player who scores 40 goals.
Chuck Kobasew is off to a hot start. He missed 12 games with an ankle injury, but has 10 points in the nine games he has played. The 26-year-old has always had potential, but his career development has been stunted by frequent injuries. If he can manage to stay healthy, he should get 40 points in the final 60 games and finish with about 50 – well above his career high.
David Krejci, ever the over-achiever, does not seem to care if he gets much ice time or power play time – he’ll produce regardless. This kid is on pace for 54 points, despite averaging only 16:53 per game. This season’s pace will likely be his lowest total over the next decade. Krejci will be a reliable second line player who you can count on for 67 to 72 points year in and year out.
And what is a conversation about the Bruins without Milan Lucic? Many scoffed at the Cam Neely comparisons in the summer, but nobody is laughing now. I touted Lucic in an article about a year ago and pegged him as a potential 60- to 65-point, 180-PIM player. I would like to re-evaluate that: I think he can reach 70 points and cautiously put his upside at 75. This campaign he is on pace for 50 points and 187 penalty minutes. If Lucic is doing that as a 20-year-old, imagine what he’ll be producing at age 28.
The Bruins offer a bit of everything from their forward units – finesse, grit, sniping, playmaking and hustle. The back end is led by Zdeno Chara and the goaltending is spearheaded by the most underrated netminder in the game today – Tim Thomas. These potent ingredients have formed the winning team you are currently witnessing. It’s time to stop undervaluing their players in your fantasy league…
Are we seeing proof the Devils forwards relied too much on Martin Brodeur to just shut down the opposing team? The production of Patrik Elias and Brian Gionta has left something to be desired the past couple of years. However, in the 10 games Brodeur has been sidelined so far, Elias has 13 points and Gionta has posted nine (missing one game due to injury). This is the level of production we expected from those two, but have not seen since 2006…
Farm Report: Carolina prospect Zach Boychuk had initially made the team, but after a couple of games in the NHL, was sent back to junior. The 14th overall pick from this past entry draft has 16 points in 14 games for Lethbridge of the Western League. Barring an unforeseen setback, the diminutive pivot has a real shot at making the Canes in 2009. He is arguably their top offensive prospect.
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