The Bruins’ season gets underway on Saturday, and plenty has been said about the importance of each game during the shortened season. However, with the B’s set to compete in one of the toughest divisions in the NHL, games against division opponents will be especially key during the 48-game slate.
Last season, Boston rolled to its second straight Northeast Division crown, clearing the surprising Ottawa Senators by ten points. This time around, with the rest of the division bulking up to challenge the Bruins, it’s going to take plenty to come out on top in the Northeast.
The aforementioned Senators won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this time around after earning the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference a year ago. Led by captain Daniel Alfredsson and Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson, Ottawa will be out to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke.
In the same vein, Montreal will look to prove 2011-12 was just an anomaly, after finishing in last place of the East. The Canadiens have a new coach in Michel Therrien and are hoping he will be able to right the ship in Quebec to restore the Habs’ former glory.
Elsewhere in Canada, the Maple Leafs’ biggest move this offseason was firing general manager Brian Burke. After a hot start to last season evaporated down the stretch, Toronto might benefit from a shortened schedule and a newfound urgency generated by the team’s new ownership.
And speaking of urgency, the Sabres rallied down the stretch but ultimately came up short in their quest to make the postseason last year. Will 2013 see them making a run at the Bruins, the same way Milan Lucic did Ryan Miller once upon a time? Only time will tell.