What to watch for in October
Throughout the 2015-16 season, Bruins Daily will provide a monthly outlook on potential news and events both on and off the ice.
Though there’s still uncertainty over how the Bruins will fare in the 2015-16 season, one question can be answered today.
Yes, it is October.
The Bruins begin their regular season a week from Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. General Manager Don Sweeney, head coach Claude Julien and the rest of the B’s coaches and management are starting to shape up the opening night roster, but there’s still some tough decisions to be made from the last spot on the fourth line to the vacancies on defense and the No. 2 goalie behind Tuukka Rask.
With one more preseason game left, the Bruins are set to begin a season with a fresh look and hope to bounce back and return to the playoffs. But even though it’s early, the first month of the season could provide an outlook on things going forward for the Black and Gold. Here are a few things to watch for in the month of October.
The longest-tenured coach in the NHL will have his work cut out for him as he tries to bring the new faces together while also hoping to guide the Bruins to a bounce back season. The Black and Gold have 10 games in the first month of the season. Five of the teams they face advanced to the postseason a year ago.
There’s always room for improvement and the first 10 games may not be the strongest indication of how the B’s will fare the rest of the season. A strong start will lengthen Julien’s leash, at least for the time being. But if they come out sluggish out of the gate, expect the rumors, and Julien’s hot seat, to heat up.
On the other hand, Bruins President Cam Neely was quite vocal in his support during Thursday’s Media Day, so perhaps Julien’s leash isn’t too short after all.
Filling Seidenberg’s void
For the large part, the Bruins’ blue-line situation was murky going into Training Camp. After Dennis Seidenberg’s back injury, their situation is less clear than it was entering camp.
With Seidenberg out for eight weeks, this will be a good time for some of the young defenseman like Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman to prove themselves that they’re capable of being an everyday blue-liner at the NHL level. It is also a chance for Torey Krug to log top-4 minutes and Adam McQuaid, Matt Irwin and Kevan Miller to try to establish their game with more ice time.
On the other hand, Sweeney may be looking to get a little more stability on the back end. The void left by Seidenberg and the Dougie Hamilton trade have set the Black and Gold back on D, something that is uncharacteristic in the Julien era. Tuukka Rask’s importance can’t be underestimated this season, but he’ll need a good wall in front of him and it’s uncertain whether or not he’ll have that with this current group. We’ll likely see the Dustin Byfuglien rumors heat up again and he’d be a good fit in the system given the right price. But it’s clear that, despite Morrow, Trotman and Colin Miller faring pretty well in the preseason, that Sweeney will need to address this area.
First matchup vs. Montreal
It won’t take long to renew hockey’s greatest rivalry as the Bruins and Canadiens square off on October 10 at TD Garden. Of course, the two will meet in the Winter Classic, but this will be the only time that they’ll take to the Garden ice.
The Habs clearly have the Bruins number and with reigning Vezina and Hart trophy winner Carey Price returning, along with PK Subban and new captain Max Pacioretty, the Habs are poised to take another step in their hopes of ending a 22-year Stanley Cup drought. But anything can happen when these two teams meet and perhaps we’ll see some early season fireworks.
First trip to Brooklyn
Sandwiched between two trips to the Southwest (vs. the Avalanche and Coyotes) and Florida, the Bruins will make their first trip to the new home of the Islanders when the two teams face off at the Barclays Center on October 23. For the Black and Gold supporters making the trip, expect a unique game-day atmosphere in the form of obstructed view seating (although I hear the area outside the arena is pretty good).
Behind the net. pic.twitter.com/JnYEtuRAay
— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) September 28, 2015
Providence Bruins start their quest for the Calder Cup
One night after the big club in Boston opens up the season, the Baby Bruins down in Providence will begin their quest for the Calder Cup when they host the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins at the Dunkin Donuts Center. Despite the numerous callups from Causeway Street last year, the P-Bruins returned to the Calder Cup Playoffs last season in a first round exit vs. the Hartford WolfPack. Will Bruce Cassidy have more stability on the roster this year? Stay tuned as we’ll provide complete coverage from Rhode Island’s capital city all season long with Jake Kerin’s analysis from the press box and locker room and Angela Spagna providing photography.
History begins in NWHL
The pieces are in place for the first NWHL season. The four-team league will feature a who’s who of women’s hockey including Olympians Hilary Knight (Boston), Meghan Duggan (Buffalo), Kacey Bellamy (Boston), Megan Bozak (Buffalo) and Kelli Stack (Hartford), just to name a few.
The inaugural games take place on October 11 featuring the New York Riveters and Connecticut Whale at 1:30 followed by the Boston Pride making the trip to Buffalo vs. the Beauts at 3:30.
The Pride will host their home games this year at the Bright Hockey Center at the campus of Harvard University. Click here for more information on purchasing season and individual tickets.