While I have zero intention of writing a game preview post for every game this season, I am going to do it when it is an important game (based on my 100 point game importance scale) and opening night just squeaks in with a score of 2,437.
The Bruins were set to come to town with one of the most dangerous pairings in the east (maybe the NHL) with Marchand and Bergeron (combined 129 points last year). Now Bergeron is out for the opener with a lower body injury. Their second line center Krejci racked up 63 points individually last season and I look for him to only get better. Boston also will have a chip on their shoulder after missing the playoffs the last two seasons (somewhat smaller chip than what we are boasting). Tuuka Rask will be between the pipes again coming off a season that saw him finish with a .915 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average.
The Bruins did however lose Eriksson to Vancouver and anytime you lose a 63 point scorer, it is going to have some effect. David Backes joins the Bruins after a 40 point campaign in St. Louis last year and he is a somewhat of a wildcard as most pundits are not exactly crystal clear on how/where he will be used in the lineup.
Krug leads a defensive corp that can struggle at times and I don’t know how much you really expect out of a 38 year old Chara. The Bruins will also have two rookie defenders (Carlo, O’Gara) to go along with 2nd year defenseman Colin Miller.
In my opinion, this game comes down to surviving the Bruins first line (even without Bergeron) when they are on the ice. If this line starts consistently getting good looks, it is too talented for Bob to stop them all. I look for this game to be a battle of the 2nd and 3rd lines and while the Jackets 4th line looks a little weak, I think they are propped up (along with the rest of the team) with solid defensive play and a first regular season peek at a defensive line-up that should move the puck dramatically better than last year.
I said it in my first thirteen prediction and I will repeat it here. JACKETS WIN. Open the season with a win and on our way to surprising everyone outside of Columbus.
LET’S GO JACKETS!