Zdeno Chara (GP 4, G 1, A 0, Plus 1): Despite not attending much of training camp, he's looked well in pre-season games. Still showcasing a nasty shot from the blue line and as we saw against Columbus, Chara sneaking in off the blueline or the "Patented Chara" as I like to call it, is still working perfectly. Next time you see Chara out there on the Power Play, watch him sneak in, it's pretty funny how well a 7 foot 200+ pound guy can "sneak". I was kinda bummed that Chara wasn't running any Captains Practice while I was there. As I mentioned in a previous post, it's basically a half rink 4 on 4 or 5 on 5 pick up game. Really fun to watch. I can't imagine Chara having a bad year this year, though, to be honest, it took me quite a long time to come around and like how he plays. Though for the first 2 years he was with us, I felt like he was making bad decisions with the puck. But it looks like that is no longer the case.
David Krejci (GP 0, G 0, A 0, Even +/-): Not much to say about our boy Krejci. I've seen him practice and his play looks solid, but it's hard to say how well he'll do until we see him in game. Of course, the Bruins nay sayers are all saying Krejci's last season was a fluke and we should have spent more money on Kessel. I disagree. I've always been a Krejci fan and I feel like he's always been pretty consistent and has a good defensive game. Thinking about it now, I can't think of any blatantly bad penalties he took last year. Which is very important as I know others on the team have taken some really dumb penalties. For the definition of a dumb penalty, find any penalty that Montador took last year. But anyway, Krejci should be in the lineup tomorrow to start the season as mentioned in the Boston Globe today. I just hope they're not rushing things. I'd rather go a couple more weeks without him, use Sobatka or bring up Hamil till Krejci is 100%. If he does come back healthy, I think we'll see a 30 goal season from him easily.
Andrew Ference (GP 3, G 1, A 1, Minus 1): Ference has been doing pretty well this pre-seaon, minus the drama surrounding him and the firing of Paul Kelly. There has also been mention of him and Recchi not getting along, but I can't image Recchi or Ference would be the kind of person to hold a grudge. I think once the season starts, all these things will be put on the back burner as the media will have something else to talk about. I'm hoping we can get the same performance out of Ference that we did the start of last season. Ference was a machine until he was injured about a quarter of the way into the season. If we can get that performance again for an extended period of time, especially since we start at home this year, that will be a HUGE help towards getting started ont he right foot.
Matt Hunwick (GP 5, G 0, A 0, Minus 1): AWFUL pre-season for Hunwick. He is all over the place defensively. No assists, only 7 shots in 5 games, terrible. My guess is if he continues to play this way into the season, he'll be replaced by Boychuk in the first couple of weeks. If he does turn it around, I could see him putting in 5 or 6 goals as he's one of the more aggressive defensemen on the team.
Blake Wheeler (GP 6, G 0, A 2, Plus 2): A lot of pressure on Wheeler this season with Kessel gone as he is expected to fill the void. I don't really think I'm a fan of setting Wheeler up like this. I'd rather have him play another "ok" season then start focusing on making him the leading goal scorer of the team. The situation just seems rushed. He's done ok so far this pre-season, but no goals despite playing the second most pre-season games on the team (Sobotka leads with 7). Wheeler has also put on 15 pounds of muscle which I hope will help, not lead to what is now know as "Bochenski" syndrome. If he has an okay season, he'll be a 20 goal scorer.
Dennis Wideman (GP 5, G 0, A 2, Plus 2): Honestly, I've heard the least about Wideman. I suppose that's not a bad thing as I have seen him take some bad penalties in the past and his game be a little sloppy. Maybe not hearing anything about him is better! Looks like he's going to be paired with Ference in 5 on 5 and on the Power Play. Pulling for him to hit the net this year and take a little more time when deciding what to do with the puck. Statistically speaking, he'll probably remain the same as he did last year, maybe a few more Power Play goals.
More tomorrow before the game...
Fluto and KPD posted their season ranking predictions today. I can't say I agree with their predictions completely. So I'll post mine...
11. Maple Leafs
East Division Winner:
2. Red Wings
6. Blue Jackets
West Division Winner:
Stanley Cup Winners:
Bruins vs Blackhawks: Bruins Win
There it is...We'll see how accurate this is at the end of the season.
Opening game tomorrow, I'll be there! w00t!