The Boston Bruins will kick off the 2013 season against the trendy Stanley Cup pick, the New York Rangers, on Saturday night. Thanks to the lockout, this will be a 48-game season and with that condensed schedule you can expect the unexpected as all 30 teams have a shot at the playoffs if they get off to a solid start. On that note, here are five things to watch for in the season opener:
1. Expect a warm reception. Throughout the lockout, fans took to Twitter and Facebook, vowing to ignore and boycott the NHL if and when the league returned to action. But in Boston and most hockey markets, it's been quite the opposite as fans have embraced their teams through the six-day mini training camp. Expect that love fest to continue at TD Garden and the Bruins to get a warm reception from their fans. That being said, if the Bruins come out flat and fall to their Original Six rival, Bruins fans won't be shy in voicing their displeasure.
2. This won't be your typical Bruins-Rangers game. Over the past few years, Bruins-Rangers games have tended to be low-scoring affairs with both teams having strong goaltending and a stingy defense. But with rust on both sides after the lockout, this game has the potential to be a high-scoring, seesaw affair. With Rick Nash now playing for an already formidable Rangers forward corps and the Bruins having one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL, speed and offense could take over.
3. Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin line will pick up where it left off. Last season the second line of Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin was the Bruins' most consistent -- and probably their best -- line. Seguin and Bergeron both had success playing in the Swiss League during the lockout and Marchand has looked ready in camp. This line plays well on both sides of the rink, which should bode well against a well-balanced foe such as the Rangers. The speed of this line also could benefit from some players not being in game shape yet.
4. Fight night on Causeway. The Rangers may have lost Brandon Prust to free agency, but they still have some scrappers in Arron Asham and Mike Rupp. With the likes of Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Adam McQuaid on the Bruins and both sides loving physical hockey, this game should produce some fisticuffs. Factor in the hype and emotion of opening night and the frustration of not playing for so long and emotions will be flying high.
5. Bruins will win. All the pregame hype and talk is surrounding the Rangers. Many pundits and fans have the Broadway Blueshirts hoisting the Cup in June and the addition of Nash was one of the most talked-about moves of the offseason. The Bruins -- only two seasons removed from winning the Cup -- have a perfect opportunity to sneak up on New York and silence the hype surrounding their opponent. I expect them to do so with their top two lines solving the pesky Rangers defense. Bruins win 5-3.