Michael Ryder (GP 5, G 1, A 2, Minus 1): A pretty good pre-season for Ryder. Much better then last years. Last year, Ryder spent 2 months trying to find the net with Savard before he was moved to a new line and was able to produce. We're going to need Ryder to be a 30+ goal scorer this year which shouldn't be an issue, especially if the Wheeler, Krejci, Ryder line is clicking. Ryder's, shot is there, I've seen him hitting his mark in practice consistently, he'll just needs to start the season off with a goal or two right off the bat to get him going.
Byron Bitz (GP 5, G 0, A 0, Minus 1): VERY quiet pre-season for Bitz. Seems to be suffering from the sophomore blues. I wouldn't be suprised if he spent some time down in Providence getting his game together and bringing him up later. I can't remember a single time in either a blog, radio or television broadcast of a pre-season game this year when I heard Bitz's name. He's a big guy who plays well on the dump in. He needs to go back to the dump and chase and get behind the net in the offensive zone and work from there. Once he's there, he'll be a solid 4th line guy again.
Derek Morris (GP 5, G 0, A 3, Even +/-): Oh Derek Morris... This has to be the guy with the most to prove. Morris landed here after a trade to put Ward in Carolina. Now, the thought was that Derek Morris would provide a more defensively sound game then Ward. So far, I'm not seeing that. Morris came from a crappy team and I'm sure he has to make some adjustments, but already in the pre-season he was described as Wideman from a year ago. All over the place and making bad decisions with the puck. He has played well in the past couple of games when paired with Chara, and he does have a monster of a shot, so he and Chara shooting together will be painful and entertaining. But the Bruins are always defense first, Morris, more then anyone, has to prove he is able to think that way.
Marco Sturm (GP 2, G 0, A 2, Even +/-): Please stay healthy, please stay healthy, please stay healthy... That is what every Bruins fan is saying right now. And right now, it's not looking very promising. Marco has missed several pre-season games with various minor injuries so he has been pretty quiet. I also saw Sturm leave practice after skating around the rink twice. Turned out the be his current groin injury that caused him to leave. We NEED Sturm this year. Even if he is not producing immediately, we need that threat on the ice during the 5 on 5 and especially the Power Play. If Sturm stays healthy, that will completely make up for all of Kessel's goals and then some. Please stay healthy......
Milan Lucic (GP 5, G 0, A 4, Plus 2): Loooooooooooooooch! What more do I need to say. Lucic is a MONSTER. He's looked very sharp this pre-season as apposed to last. He was shaky out the gate last year and was questionable for the start of the regular season. But he has picked up right where he left off in the playoffs last year. If Julien decides to keep him on the first line with Savard and Sturm...wow. Savard the play maker, Sturm the goal scorer, Lucic bringing the muscle, the perfect line. I wouldn't be surprised to see a contract renewal for Lucic this year before the All-Star break, as they will want to avoid losing the current face of the Bruins franchise. Looch will easily put up 20 or so goals and a good 150 penalty minutes.
Mark Stuart (GP 5, G 1, A 0, Minus 2): Mark Stuart is a "Bruin". Now people outside of the circle of average to diehard Bruins fan will not know what that means. Well I'll tell ya. Stuart is the guy who is quiet on the ice but is giving 110% effort the whole night, no matter the score. He's contributing on every part of the ice whether that be burying the occasional puck in the net or dropping the gloves to stick up for a teammate. Mark Stuart is a low risk, high reward grinder that every team wishes they had. He'll put up his typical numbers this year, 4-5 goals, 10-15 assists, but you won't hear anything bad about him. Solid 3rd D-pair guy.
Tuukka Rask (GP 3, W 2, L 1, GAA 2.0, SV% .938): Let me start by saying...what an improvement over Fernandez. I'm glad the Bruins took their time in bringing this kid up despite his displeasure with the desision last year. We didn't want to ruin this kid like we did with Hannu, who is still in and out of the NHL/AHL with St. Louis.
I think his biggest advantage over goalies in the past 10 years in Boston is that he has a solid number 1 goalie in front of him. This is a goaltender who has been taken care of and is living out the perfect scenario. Let me breakdown my perfect goalie scenario..
You stay in the AHL your first year. You get called up and get lit up and truely understand what it means to be in the NHL and get sent back down. Around this time, Thomas becomes the number 1 guy in Boston. The next season, you do well in training camp in the bigs, but are told you need to hone in your game a bit more. This builds up that frustration, that need to prove yourself. Because of this, you churn out a good year in the AHL and get called up once or twice to the NHL. And you dominate. Now this season, you're coming into a team and you know your role. There has never been any doubt that Tuukka will no more then a backup for Thomas. This will be a time for Tuukka to learn and take notes. He'll have his time to play as I'm sure Thomas will not play more then 50 or so games, especially with the Olympics coming up. So Rask, will have his time then.
In the coming years, he'll be given more and more time until he is eventually the number 1 guy in Boston and will be for a while. That's how you do it! You don't just bring someone up and hope they'll be your number one guy like they did with Thomas. It worked out for Thomas, but that is not how you "grow" a number 1 guy. Tuukka is in a well estabilished system and will do very well this year bringing in 5-10 wins.
More tomorrow! Check out the poll on the right side of the page!