Sep 16, 2013; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Boston Bruins forward Jarome Iginla (12) celebrates after scoring a goal with teammates David Krejci (46) and Milan Lucic (17) during the third period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Predicting The Montreal Canadiens New Division: Who Will Finish 1st?

The NHL regular season gets underway in one week, and we finish off our countdown of the Atlantic Division final standings today, by taking a closer look at the Boston Bruins.

The final predicted standings for the division are:

1st: Boston Bruins

2nd: Detroit Red Wings

3rd: Montreal Canadiens

4th: Ottawa Senators

5th: Tampa Bay Lightning

6th: Toronto Maple Leafs

7th: Buffalo Sabres

8th: Florida Panthers

The Boston Bruins battled the Montreal Canadiens throughout the shortened 2013 season, and ultimately fell just short of a division title. The Bruins would take the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and after a dramatic game seven comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins marched all the way to the Stanley Cup Final.

Jun 24, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) skates with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) during the first period in game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Boston would fall in six games to the Chicago Blackhawks, but it was another great season for the Bruins, a team that has consistently been great since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.

There has been plenty of turnover among the forwards during the offseason, but Boston still boasts one of the deepest rosters in the NHL. The Bruins lost Nathan Horton and deadline acquisition Jaromir Jagr to free agency, and then traded Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars.

To replace the missing parts on offense, the Bruins brought in Loui Eriksson from the Stars, and signed veteran scorer Jarome Iginla. Beyond their impressive top six, the Bruins will get secondary scoring from Chris Kelly, Dan Paiile and Gregory Campbell.

Scoring was not the Bruins biggest strength last season, as they finished 13th in the NHL in goals scored, but their defensive game is so sound, that they do not need to be among the leagues highest scoring teams.

Their defense is led by perennial Norris Trophy candidate Zdeno Chara. The mammoth defender is among the league’s best and plays in all situations. The rest of the Bruins defenders fall in line behind Chara, and emerging youngster Dougie Hamilton is poised for a much bigger role this season with Andrew Ference gone to the Edmonton Oilers. The back end is rounded out by solid veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuk. The group does not habe many big names beyond Chara, but the Bruins team defense is among the best in the league. Center Patrice Bergeron is in the Selke Trophy conversation every year, as best defensive forward, and Kelly, Campbell and David Krejci all play a great defensive game, giving the Bruins four two way centers to take some pressure off the defensemen.

In net, the Bruins will be handing the majority of starts over to the capable hands of Tuukka Rask. The Finnish netminder enters the season fresh off signing a lucrative 8 year, 56 million dollar contract. Rask has proven to be among the best goaltenders in the league since taking over for the departed Tim Thomas. If Rask can perform under the increased pressure of being the highest paid goaltender in the league, th Bruins will again be at the top of the NHL standings.

The Bruins lineup, after plenty of offseason maneuvering now looks like this:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla

Marchand – Bergeron – Eriksson

Soderberg – Kelly – Caron

Paille – Campbell – Thornton

Chara – Hamilton

Seidenberg – Boychuk

Krug – McQuaid

Rask

Johnson

The Bruins have made several changes, and it may cause them to stumble a bit out of the gate. However, they have plenty of depth at every position, and barring an injury to Rask, they will be a tough team to beat on any given night this season.

This depth, and strong defensive game, will lead the Boston Bruins to the top of the Atlantic Division in 2013-14.

Tags: Boston Bruins Montreal Canadiens

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