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Tue, 07 Sep 2010 05:05 PM EDT

Boston Bruins

2009-10 record: 39-30-13, 91 points, 6th place in Eastern Conference

Boston enters the new season as one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference. The team is loaded up-and-down the roster with talent at every position, although the backbone of the squad is a goaltending tandem that is the best in the NHL. Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy just two years ago, yet he is not even a starter now. Finnish flopper Tuukka Rusk led the league in both goals-against-average (1.97) and save percentage (.931) and forced Thomas to the bench near the end of last season. While there were rumors that Thomas would be traded in the offseason for a high-scoring forward, nothing ever materialized. Basketball Odds

Instead, the Bruins traded inconsistent defenseman Dennis Wideman and a first-round draft pick to Florida for 60-point RW Nathan Horton to bolster the offense. Injuries and poor performances haunted Boston’s top lines and caused the Bruins to be the lowest-scoring squad in the Eastern Conference. Scoring studs Marc Savard and Milan Lucic both missed half the season due to major injuries, while right wings Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder suffered through horrendous slumps and disappointing campaigns. It got so bad that the Bruins had to turn to ancient right wings Mark Recchi and Miroslav Satan for big goals down the stretch and in the postseason. You would think if Savard and Lucic remain injury-free, Wheeler and Ryder bounce back, and Horton takes his game to the next level, this offense should go from terrible to above-average. Baseball Odds

Perennial Norris trophy candidate Zdeno Chara will always score 40 points, rack up 85 penalty minutes, and be a plus player. He will not have Wideman to help him carry the load on the back line, though, and will be surrounded by some youngsters that he will have to break in during the course of the season, so Rask and Thomas might have more quality shots headed their way during those times Chara is not on the ice. Sports Scores

A playoff berth seems to be a lock unless Chara misses a couple months with a physical problem.

Newcomers – RW Nathan Horton, C Gregory Campbell
Departures – D Dennis Wideman

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