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September 30, 2009

Bruins Preview: B's will be more than fine without Kessel

Phil Kessel wanted his money, and the Bruins didn't have the money to give him. That's the bottom line.

The Kessel saga, while over and done with, is still a hot-button topic with fans, and there remains an underlying criticism that the Bruins should have gotten more - at least a player for this year's team.

The Bruins, however, had no money left under the salary cap to sign Kessel — that's what it all comes down to. Trading the 21-year-old Kessel, who had a team-high 36 goals in 70 games, for any significant player would have cost more than the roughly $1.7 million the B's have under the cap.

But even without "Saint Philip'' — who was the butt of much criticism during his Boston days for a perceived lack of effort — the Bruins forwards will not only survive, they'll thrive.

Last year the B's, the top seed in the East, were upset by Carolina in the conference semifinals. This year expect more for the Black and Gold.

Forwards

The entire offense centers around Marc Savard (25 goals, 63 assists, 88 points last year) and David Krejci (22-51—-73). Both have flawless vision and play-making ability.

While not all his fault (concussions), Patrice Bergeron's (8-31—39) doesn't look like he'll ever regain his early promise of greatness. He can play at both ends of the ice and is the most offensive third-line center in the league, but at almost $6 million per season, in a salary-cap era, he's vastly overpaid.

Milan Lucic (17-25—42, 136 penalty minutes) isn't a go-to scorer but he's a game-changer. He'll benefit from playing alongside either Savard or Krejci and should score over 20 goals.

If Michael Ryder (27-26—53) can hover around 30 goals as he did last year, and second-year man Blake Wheeler (21-24—45) continues his development, the Bruins should be similar to last year, when they were second in the NHL with 3.29 goals a game.

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