A year ago, the Boston Bruins were eliminated handily by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the series, they were outmuscled and outclassed in every game aside from game one.
A year later, the Bruins played a game of role reversal in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. They dominated the Hurricanes from start-to-finish and defeated a Cinderella story that earned the attention of both the hockey and outside world with their “Bunch of Jerks” mantra courtesy of Don Cherry.
This playoff run that the Bruins are on has been a collective effort with all four lines contributing on a nightly basis. In the clincher against Carolina, it was fitting that the top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak combined for eight total points and led the way as they had been doing all season long.
Bergeron and Marchand are apart of the veteran group that has already been to two previous Cup Finals and now Pastrnak will get his first shot at glory.
Of course, the player who deserves the most praise for his team’s success is obviously the Finnish Monster: Tuukka Rask. The netminder only gave up about two goals per game in the series with two shutouts to boot, including the series-clincher to send the black-and-gold to their third SCF since 2011.
In fact, it was Rask’s second straight series-clinching shutout during these playoffs.
The Bruins outscored the Hurricanes 17-6 during the ECF and shut down a team that had defeated last year’s SCF champions in the Washington Capitals and pummeled the New York Islanders before ultimately losing to Boston.
There wasn’t a statistical category the Bruins didn’t lead in during this series and it was a huge contrast compared to their first two series against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets. Maybe it’s that their competition got weaker or maybe it’s that they just improved throughout the playoffs. Whatever the reason, the Bruins are easily playing their best hockey of the season and are rolling as they head into the final round of the playoffs.
With the Western Conference Finals still ongoing with the San Jose Sharks up 2-1 over the St. Louis Blues, the Bruins will need to wait for this series to end before they play in another playoff game. The argument of resting players for an extended period of time versus keeping guys hot is always an interesting one, but I think the Bruins players will welcome the idea of healing up before Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals.
With some time off in between series, there will be plenty of time to preview a series between either the Sharks or Blues. A Stanley Cup Final preview will be coming soon.
For now, let’s enjoy this run so far and get pumped for one more series.