Sunday, January 13, 2013
Bruins questions: Surprise performer?
As part of our preview heading into the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, we've asked Joe McDonald and James Murphy to answer nine big questions (one per day) facing the Boston Bruins. Here's our Day 4 question:
The performance of ____ will be the biggest surprise this year?
Dennis Seidenberg averaged over 24 minutes of ice time per game last season.
Joe McDonald: When choosing which player could have a breakout performance in any season, it’s simple to pick an offensive-minded forward. The Boston Bruins have many of these types of players on their roster, but this season I’m going with a defenseman as my breakout player. Bruins blueliner Dennis Seidenberg is a steady and consistent player. He’s a solid defender. He’s physical and logs many minutes of ice time along with partner Zdeno Chara. With the addition of rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton this season, Seidenberg could be called on to help mentor to young blueliner. The two of them were paired together Sunday at the first day of training camp. During the lockout, he played in Germany, and when he returned to Boston last week, he said he’s healthy and in great shape. He played 80 games during the 2011-2012 season and recorded five goals and 18 assists for 23 points, including a plus-15 rating. I’m not saying his statistical production will greatly increase, I just believe he’ll be one of the best players on the ice for the Bruins during this lockout-shortened 48-game season.
James Murphy: For the first time in his NHL career, Chris Kelly scored 20 goals last season as the pesky winger known for his defensive prowess gave the Bruins some offensive depth many didn't expect. Until then Kelly's highest goal total was 15 which he achieved in 2006-07 and 2009-10. But the versatile forward did have 13 points in 25 playoff games during the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run and he carried that offensive momentum into last season. Expect that trend to continue as Kelly will most likely anchor the third line centering Rich Peverley and a yet-to-be-determined left wing. Kelly was arguably one of the most valuable players on the Bruins last season because of his improving offensive skills and his tenacious game on both ends of the rink. He was a mainstay on the penalty kill, but also proved that he can be used on the power play from time to time as well. This means more playing time, and with that, more opportunity to light the lamp. I'm going to predict that Kelly pots 20-25 goals this season and proves his worth on the four-year $12 million contract he signed last July.