It’s a slow, rainy Friday in September and with my
Oakland Las Vegas Raiders currently undefeated and sitting atop the AFC West; naturally my thoughts have turned to the Boston Bruins and their projected lineup for the upcoming season. Now what type of prognosticator would I be if I just copied someone else’s lineup? A shit one, that’s what I’d be. I have too much respect for you, dear reader to recycle someone else’s thoughts as my own. I’m not going to regurgitate some “hot take” from a talking head “expert”. I’m giving you the straight dope from the Brownie secret stash. The first hit is always free….
Without further adieu:
Projected Lineup (if Don Sweeney asks, he’s got my number)
Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Pastrnak
Taylor Hall – Charlie Coyle – Craig Smith
Erik Haula – Tomas Nosek – Nick Foligno
Trent Frederic – Curtis Lazar – Chris Wagner
Derek Forbort – Charlie McAvoy
Matt Grzeclyk – Brandon Carlo
Mike Reilly – Connor Clifton
The Bergeron Line: This is THE TOP LINE. This is The Erection Line. This is the best, and most balanced line in the NHL (come @ me, no other line can match up). This is the (Black and) Gold Standard. This is the line that makes opponents’ shrivel up and hide like a scared turtle when they cowboy over the boards. Just typing this I can feel blood rushing to the nether regions (and I like it). Ladies and Gentlemen, this is how you hockey.
The Coyle Line: This is the biggest question mark people are talking about heading into the season. Can Coyle pick up where David Krecji left off? Krecji is a Hall of Famer and will have his #46 in the rafters one day, and has left great big donkey dick size skates to fill. No one elevated their play like Krecji did for the playoffs (156GP 42G-82A-124Pts How are ya), and I have a Krecji Appreciation Post I’m working on that’s still in its’ embryo stage. But here’s the thing, Coyle doesn’t have to do what Krecji did. Coyle has to facilitate Hall and Smith and offer scoring that will take pressure off the Bergeron Line. Coyle had an off year, but he and Smith have shown chemistry previously and Hall is still a top line talent. I acknowledge the doubters have some justified concerns, but I think they will prove to be a match-up nightmare and I am fully expecting a bounce back year from Coyle.
The Nosek Line: AKA The New Guys. It just makes sense to me to play these guys together at first and see what you have for chemistry. Foligno is a warrior and a known commodity. He can play in any situation in the middle 6 at this point, and I could see him net front on PP1. The wild cards are Nosek and Haula. They have some familiarity with each other from their time in Las Vegas and I think both of them will get a chance to show what they can do in more situations than they have been put in previously. To be fair, all they have to do is be better than DeBrusk was last year, so basically the bar they have to clear is laying flat on the ice. Also, I’m predicting we see a Foligno/Ritchie tilt this year in a Loser Leaves Town bout for the undisputed title of Big Dick Nick.
The Lazar Line: The sample size of Lazar that the Bruins saw last year was enough to let Sean Kuraly take his talents to Ohio. Personally I think this combo for the 4th line is the best the B’s can offer, although I’d keep Karson Kuhlman close by in case anyone is feeling themselves a bit too much. Frederic brings an element of pest/agitator that the Bruins have been missing for some time and takes the onus off Wagner (and probably Foligno) to step in for a teammate. The more Freddie is out there, the happier I am. I don’t know why, but nothing I like better than a fourth liner that can kill penalties and all 3 of these beauties fit that bill.
McAvoy/Forbort Pairing: I’m in favor of splitting up the BU boys and having Forbort out there with McAvoy. I think Forbort is easily a top 4 defenseman with excellent skating ability and the size to withstand the pounding a top pair defenseman takes (looking at you Grz). He has the speed to keep up with McAvoy and hopefully playing with Chuckie Bright Lights will get the offensive side of his game going.
Carlo/Grzelcyk Pairing: I love this pairing. I think their games’ compliment each other immensely and much like I could see McAvoy/Grzecyk on PP1, I could see Carlo/Forbort on PK1. Injuries derailed much of both of their seasons last year, so I envision a big bounce back for both of them. I know Grz gets the pub for his skating ability, but Carlo can wheel too.
Reilly/Clifton Pairing: With Lauzon now a Crackhead, it’s officially Cliffy Hockey time in Boston. Mike Reilly was (besides Taylor Hall) the most important re-signing for last year’s squad. His vision and skating ability will be able to cover Clifton when he becomes Cliffy. Playing 3rd line minutes will keep them both available for PP2 and Reilly’s ability to move up and down the lineup will prove invaluable as the season progresses.
Swayman is the heir apparent, make no mistake about that, but the Bruins have chosen to go the patient route; which brings us to their shiny new toy: Linus Ullmark. This cat has the chance to be something special. Big, athletic and with a 0.917 save percentage for the Buffalo Sabres last year?? Yes, please. I’m fairly certain that a line of me, Preston and Fink would have wheeled the Sabres last year. Ullmark was on an island playing in back of one of the statistically weakest defenses rolled out in the
AHL ECHL NHL last season.
This tandem will be among the best in the NHL next season and let’s not forget that Tuukka Rask’s comment about never wanting to play anywhere else and that Sweeney could have him for “250K and unlimited Bud Light” in case something goes wrong. So you have a top 15ish goalie (with HUUUUGE upside) and one of the most talented rookies in recent memory between the pipes? Pretty good. Oh, what’s that? You have a Vezina winner and top 5 goalie waiting in the wings to see if you need him? Yeah buddy.
Buckle up Bruins fans. This season could be epic and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it ending with another call for water fowl. That’s right I said it….. get the duck boats ready.