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  Monday, October 20, 2014
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xtra xtra!
Bruins Open Wallets!!!
By Paul Noonan

I’m sorry for the extra emphasis, but I’m still reeling from the Bruins’ overnight change in attitude.  For the first time since as long as I can remember, the Bruins actually opened their wallets for a quality free agent.  It gets better.  It wasn’t just one free agent, but two!  With the recent signings of hulking defenseman Zdeno Chara and savvy playmaker Marc Savard, the Bruins went from a joke to a serious adversary in an instant.  Unlike last summer, the Bruins are actually making good on the promises of improvement.

             

For a long time Zdeno Chara was seen simply as a player taken for his size.  He was criticized for not having a lot of skill or speed and was looked upon as a weak defenseman.  That all changed when he got to Ottawa.  In just a few short seasons, Chara went from a depth defenseman to one of the best defensemen in the league.  While he still is not the quickest or most skilled defender, Chara has improved in those areas and his size makes up for wherever he slacks.  Chara is a minute muncher who can play between twenty and twenty-five minutes, he’s a physical presence that few can rival.  And even if you manage to get by him, you also need to get by his long reach, too.  Chara is the number one defenseman the Bruins have lacked since Bourque left.  And for the first time in a long time the Bruins have a defense that rivals any other in the league.  Chara and Brad Stuart are all-star caliber defensemen who are physical, but also have some offensive upside.  Andrew Alberts and Mark Stuart are true stay at home defensemen who love to punish opposing forwards and will only get better as they develop.  New addition Paul Mara is another big boy who can hit, but also has the best offensive upside of any of the backliners.  The number six job is up for grabs between the solid two way defenseman Milan Jurcina and offensive threat David Tanabe, not bad for number six D- men. 

             

As the NHL and Bruins’ fans began to come down from the initial high of this move, the Bruins did it again.  In center Marc Savard the Bruins get a very second line forward.  Savard lit it up playing alongside Ilya Kovalchuk this season, and is a great playmaker.  His career 2:1 assists to goals ration shows he usually thinks pass first, but don’t be fooled he can score, too.  Savard is also a solid face- off man, something every team can always use.  The only significant flaw in Savard’s game is his defensive abilities, but with their new additions, the Bruins should be all set back there anyway.  The Bruins hope Savard can do for Glen Murray what Joe Thornton used to, and what Savard did for Kovalchuk.  The combo should give the Bruins a much better second line than last season.  Savard will also improve the Bruins’ power play.

             

These two new additions are a big step for the Bruins.  Not only do they make the Bruins a legitimate playoff contender, and maybe Cup contender as well, but they finally give the fans something to look forward to.  That perhaps is the biggest thing of all.  For the first time since the days of the GAS line, etc., I feel like the Bruins actually care about winning…the Cup.  The Bruins easily could have went a quieter route and signed a Willie Mitchell and Mike Sillinger, etc., and claimed that they were huge cogs in their attempt to win the Cup, but finally they’ve stopped the lying and cheap skating.  No more rumors of a Temmu Selanne or Mike Modano, the Bruins finally put their money where their mouth is.  They went out, they spent the money (on high- caliber players), and they made the team better.  Maybe the B’s brass has finally realized the fans can’t take anymore.  However they came to their senses it is great they did, and for the first time since the Bruins got knocked out by #8 Montreal, I actually am excited about this team.  So are many Bruins fans.  A few months ago I said that I thought the Thornton trade was a good one.  Thornton had his chance to lead the team to glory and it didn’t happen.  I mentioned how Sturm and Stuart are capable players and could be key guys in the future.  This was all said hoping the Bruins would finally surround them with some other talent.  And they have.  If the Bruins still had Thornton, and maybe Samsonov, these moves may not have happened because those two would already be making the big money, and they are big names.  The trade may have finally panned out.  The Bruins now have another outstanding defenseman to ease the load on the talented Stuart.  They have given Sturm, who can put the puck in the net well enough, another offensive outlet and another guy to feed him the puck.  There is now a reason to be excited about the black and gold again.  It may not be a return to the glory days of the Big, Bad Bruins, but they have at least gone from a team that was feared about as much as a Teddy Bear to a team that will be feared more like a grizzly bear, especially when Chara stands up.



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