Here’s Where Bruins Stand In ESPN’s Final Preseason NHL Power Rankings

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The Bruins finished second in the Atlantic Division last season behind the Lightning — the only team in the Eastern Conference with a better record than the B’s — and expectations in Boston are high again this season thanks to a solid collection of veterans and a very talented young core.

But do the Bruins have what it takes to be legitimate Stanley Cup contenders?

ESPN released its final preseason NHL power rankings Monday with the 2018-19 regular season set to begin Wednesday, and four Eastern Conference teams, including the Lightning, sat ahead of the Bruins, who were eliminated by Tampa Bay in the second round of last season’s playoffs.

The Bruins are ranked No. 9 across the NHL, according to the ESPN rankings, which reflect which teams the voters think would win head-to-head matchups.

Here’s what ESPN wrote about Boston just days before the Bruins travel to Washington to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals in the teams’ season opener:

Reports of Tuukka Rask’s demise always seem exaggerated. The 31-year-old had an underrated season (34-14-5, .917 save percentage). If he does need some help, Boston made a strong summer signing with former Islanders netminder Jaroslav Halak as a backup.

Here’s what ESPN’s entire top 10 looks like:

1. Winnipeg Jets
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
3. Toronto Maple Leafs
4. Nashville Predators
5. Washington Capitals
6. San Jose Sharks
7. Vegas Golden Knights
8. Pittsburgh Penguins
9. Boston Bruins
10. St. Louis Blues

Long story, short: The Bruins’ road to the playoffs won’t be easy, especially with the up-and-coming Maple Leafs, who finished third in the Atlantic Division last season, signing All-Star forward John Tavares this summer.

There’s still a lot to like about the Black and Gold, though, which should make for another interesting year at TD Garden, where the Boston Celtics also figure to make noise in the NBA.

Click for ESPN’s full power rankings >>

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