Without watching the Bruins face traditional foes Montreal, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Ottawa, Florida and Detroit this season, fans will quickly build animosity toward players and opponents they aren’t accustomed to seeing as often.
That said, here are the top five players from the East Division that will drive Bruins fans crazy.
5. Evgeni Malkin
Known for being a generational offensive talent, Malkin can also be a generational poor sport when success eludes him.
Bruins fans remember Malkin’s antics with Patrice Bergeron during Game 1 of the 2013 Conference Finals. Frustrated by the defensive prowess of Bergeron and the Bruins, Malkin was quick to get a few jabs in on the star center at the end of the second period before the two wrestled to the ice. Needless to say, after a four game sweep, it was Bergeron who got the last laugh.
Malkin,and former running mate Patric Hornqvist also got chippy with Charlie McAvoy in recent years as well.
Not only is Malkin a threat to score on any given shift, he’s not afraid to test his stick out on opponent’s shin pads when he’s not scoring.
4. Travis Konecny
The 23-year-old Konecny is an integral piece to the present and future of the Philadelphia Flyers. If you aren’t aware of his play, he’s cut from the same cloth as Brad Marchand.
While Konecny doesn't have the same scoring ability or agitating genius as Marchand, he does both well enough to irritate opponents on and off the score sheet.
Bruins fans may not be too familiar with Konecny just yet, but after eight games of scoring chances, forechecking, finishing checks and going hard to the Bruins net, they will be.
3. Curtis Lazar
Lazar is a heat-seeking missile who plays with an abundance of energy. Tough as nails, Lazar is relied upon to be a spark plug for a young Sabres team.
Lazar, 25, is the kind of player who welcomes physicality and oftentimes goes looking for it, between and after whistles.
He also has history with the Bruins, initiating a post-whistle scrum in front of Tuukka Rask and fighting Chris Wagner last season.
Heads better be on a swivel when Lazar is on the ice. If I was a betting man, I’d put money on him and Nick Ritchie exchanging a few fists this season.
2. Brendan Lemieux
Son of infamous NHL agitator Claude Lemieux, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The New York Rangers forward has speed and skill, but his main asset is physicality.
Listed at 6’1”, 209 lbs, Lemieux skates around as if he’s 6’5”, 230 lbs.
There was a game at TD Garden on March 27, 2019 where the Bruins routed the Rangers 6-3.
Pastrnak scored five points (3G, 2A). In the third period, Lemieux started taking liberties with Pastrnak and even chirped the Bruins bench that No. 88 was a marked man.
Zdeno Chara eventually put an end to Lemieux’s hijinks.
With eight games against the Rangers on the docket, and Chara in Washington, the B’s will have their hands full with Lemieux.
1. Tom Wilson
Speaking of Washington, we get to number one on the list of divisional players Bruins fans will love to hate.
Tom Wilson is one player hockey fans are all too familiar with.
Fans know what Wilson’s capable of, and the worst part is that they know there’s not much their favorite team can do to stop him.
As Bruins fans, think back to Milan Lucic in his prime. He could do whatever he wanted, and opponents were helpless because nobody was tough enough to teach him a lesson.
Tom Wilson is that guy for Washington. He can’t be bullied. He is the bully.
If Wilson runs over Charlie McAvoy, who on the Bruins will make him pay? Kevan Miller? Nick Ritchie? It would have to be one of them, because there’s no other toughness on the roster.
Of course, there's always the possibility that the NHL steps in and suspends him for a fifth time if things go too far, as Wilson has a history of crossing the line as well.
Wilson is one of the true power forwards remaining in the NHL, and he’s highly effective at being just that, scoring 20-plus goals each of the last two seasons.
Wilson will have you screaming at your TV over eight meetings with the Caps and unless the Bruins sign his kryptonite, Ryan Reaves, there’s not a whole lot they can do to stop him.