This article is part of our Team Previews series.
The Bruins entered the 2009-10 season filled with promise after rising to the top of the Eastern Conference the year before, with a spiffy 53–19–10 record. True, the B's had fizzled out in the Eastern Conference semifinals, but the team's regular season prowess, suggested another campaign among the league's elite.
Compensating for the loss of Kessel, Boston envisioned a committee approach, featuring the return of Marco Sturm from a knee injury and the anticipated development of young forwards such as David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Blake Wheeler. However, replacing Kessel's 36 goals and electric presence up front proved problematic. When coupled with lengthy injuries to Marc Savard and Lucic, the B's ended up going from 274 goals for (second in the league in 2008-09) to next to last in scoring last season, with 206 goals. Krejci and Patrice Bergeron tied for the team lead in scoring with just 52 points each.
What kept the team afloat was another campaign's worth of responsible defensive play from a solid blueline corps and continued excellence in goal. The result was just 200 goals allowed, the second-lowest total in the league. Rookie Tuukka Rask took advantage of a Thomas injury and seized the team's top goaltending job, relegating his veteran counterpart to highly-paid backup status.
With mustering consistent offense a season-long problem, the Bruins