NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout September.
The question came from a perturbed fan in the stands at TD Garden for the Boston Bruins' annual State of the Bruins town hall meeting just before the start of training camp.
The fan alluded to the notion the Boston Celtics only hang banners for their world championships because that's their only goal, but the Bruins have banners commemorating their division and conference titles, in addition to their Stanley Cup championships, because they're not as committed to winning world titles.
It didn't take Bruins president Cam Neely a breath to grab the microphone and respond to the disgruntled customer by flatly denying the person's premise was accurate. After the event, Neely expanded on what the Bruins' biggest target is every season.
"We talk all the time: What's our Stanley Cup roster look like? We talk about that constantly," Neely said. "So I can understand frustrations, especially coming off the heels of last playoffs. But we talk about winning all the time. That's first and foremost here."
Winning proved almost easy for the Bruins during the 2013-14 regular season, when they won the Presidents' Trophy with 117 points. Their plus-84 goal differential was 27 goals better than the next closest team. They ranked second in goals against and third in goals for. In just about every way, the Bruins dominated the NHL.
Then after about a month of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the domination ended. The Bruins lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Second Round in seven games. Everything the Bruins did, including committing to pay several players performance bonuses that would hamstring them under the NHL salary cap the next season, went for naught.
Instead of heading into 2014-15 riding the remnants of a championship celebration, the Bruins are beginning the season with motivations to make sure they don't feel that level of disappointment again.
"Well, it was disappointing. But it happens," center David Krejci said. "You need a little luck to go all the way. When we won it, we had a little luck, a couple times in Game 7, and when we went to the Finals we had a little luck as well. That didn't happen, but I've put it behind me. It's a new season. So I'm ready, I'm excited and I can't wait for the season to come."
Unlike most teams that come up two rounds shy of the Final, the Bruins did little to change their roster. General manager Peter Chiarelli was content with the talent and depth in his organization, plus he had little wiggle room under the salary-cap ceiling. Chiarelli did manage to get defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith signed to identical one-year, $1.4 million contracts Monday. Barring trades, what openings in the Bruins lineup there are because of unsigned players and a couple who defected will probably be filled with reinforcements from the organization.
Any discussion of the Bruins forwards has to start with two-time Selke Trophy winner Patrice Bergeron, who shared the team lead with 30 goals last season. Bergeron is the foundation of the forward corps and is almost always joined on his line by left wing Brad Marchand. Although Marchand scored 25 goals, his season was considered a disappointment because of some lengthy goal droughts and a goal-less postseason. Marchand reported to camp in better shape than a year ago and should boost his stats by joining one of the power-play units. Smith, coming off a 20-goal season, figures to plug right back in next to Bergeron and Marchand.
BRUINS AMONG FANTASY TOP 275
Below are Boston Bruins players who qualified for NHL.com's top 275 fantasy list. Each player's aggregate spot was determined by averaging the individual rankings of Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen and Matt Sitkoff. Also listed are each player's Yahoo position eligibility and any offseason NHL.com fantasy content that breaks down projected value for 2014-15.
9. Tuukka Rask
, G (No. 1 goaltender
33. Patrice Bergeron
, C (Top 50 breakdown
64. Zdeno Chara
, D (Category specialist
68. Milan Lucic
, LW (Category hogs
69. David Krejci
113. Loui Eriksson
, LW/RW (Injury rebound
117. Brad Marchand
, LW (Overvalued
121. Torey Krug
157. Reilly Smith
159. Dougie Hamilton
, D (Jensen's breakout
206. Carl Soderberg
Krejci led the Bruins with 69 points last season. He'll again have Milan Lucic on his left wing. But on the right side the Bruins might not decide on a replacement for Jarome Iginla until as late as opening night. The job as Krejci's right wing was one of at least three up for grabs during camp for any number of veterans and prospects.
Left-shooting Loui Eriksson was the favorite to be that line's right wing based on his track record as a former 30-goal scorer. Eriksson had a disappointing first season in Boston with 10 goals in 61 games. Now that Eriksson is healthy and more comfortable, he could be a fit there.
"He's a great player, he can pass the puck, and I feel if I play with him I'll get even more goals because he's a great passer," Krejci said of Eriksson. "But we'll see what happens. Obviously I'm excited, I would love to play with him, but we'll see how camp goes and go from there."
Center Carl Soderberg will center a line in the Bruins' bottom six. Veterans Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell figure to plug in someplace, but where they land will depend on which young players earn jobs. Ryan Spooner and Alexander Khokhlachev are centers who could make the jump from the American Hockey League. One of them might force Campbell to the wing.
Wings Matt Fraser, Jordan Caron and Justin Florek had their moments with big goals in the playoffs last season and could keep it going into this regular season. The Bruins love 2014 first-round draft pick David Pastrnak's speed and skill. And camp tryout invitees Simon Gagne and Ville Leino might last into the season.
The Bruins probably won't try to replace right wing Shawn Thornton with another tough player, so the fourth line will have a different look.
The defense is overflowing with qualified players, and Chiarelli hasn't been shy about the notion that at some point he's going to have to relieve the logjam. With Krug signed, Chiarelli was talking about having nine legitimate NHL defensemen.
ADDITIONS: F Simon Gagne (free agent, Flyers), F Ville Leino, (free agent, Sabres).
SUBTRACTIONS: F Jarome Iginla (free agent, Avalanche), F Shawn Thornton (free agent, Panthers), G Chad Johnson (free agent, Islanders).
PROMOTION CANDIDATES: C Ryan Spooner, C Alexander Khokhlachev, F Justin Florek, F David Pastrnak, F Matt Fraser, D David Warsofsky, G Niklas Svedberg.
We know who the Bruins' top four will be, barring a trade. Perennial Norris Trophy candidate Zdeno Chara is back along with Dougie Hamilton and Johnny Boychuk, who each has been Chara's partner for stretches the past couple seasons. After missing most of last season with an ACL/MCL injury, Dennis Seidenberg is back at full strength.
Adam McQuaid missed most of last season with injuries. He's healthy again, but Kevan Miller proved a sufficient replacement for McQuaid and is in a fight to keep one of Boston's bottom-pair jobs. Krug is coming off a 14-goal, 40-point rookie season. He improved greatly on defense last season and was a major part of the Bruins' resurgent power play. Matt Bartkowski had his struggles in the playoffs but gained valuable experience playing up and down the depth chart last season. And David Warsofsky, who has six games of NHL experience, could also be an answer as well, especially on the power play.
"It's a good problem to have," Chara said about defense depth. "No matter how you look at it, to have that many players capable of playing gives you obviously an advantage. And like I said, it's a good problem to have and it would be obviously a different situation if we would be on the other side of it. So sometimes things are out of your control as far as trades and other things but as a player you … have to do your best to make the team and the lineup, and the rest of it is up to the management."
For the third time in the past six seasons a Bruins goaltender won the Vezina Trophy: Tuukka Rask earned the award for best goaltender with a 36-15-6 record, 2.04 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. Rask played 58 games in the regular season and was almost better in the playoffs (1.99 GAA, .928 save percentage). If there were any questions about Rask's worthiness of an eight-year, $56 million contract, he answered them.
For the third straight season, Rask will have a different backup. Following in the footsteps of Anton Khudobin and Chad Johnson likely will be Niklas Svedberg, who spent two years learning the North American game with Providence in the American Hockey League. Svedberg didn't make the Bruins despite an impressive camp last year and then had a 2.63 GAA and .910 save percentage for Providence.
"Every year you get more experience and you play more games. … Maybe I had some rougher parts last year down in Providence. But I think it helped me mentally to get better, some good experience, and overall it's been good," Svedberg said.