No More Excuses
There’s no more meanie coach. No more subpar roster construction. No more pants-crapping from Tuukka Rask. The boogeyman in all its many forms is officially gone for the Bruins. As the team continues its magical season, it is up to the players to deliver a Stanley Cup to Boston for the first time since 2011.
Bruins Continue To Make History
Absolutely no one could’ve predicted how this Bruins season has gone thus far. After Thursday night’s 7-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins became the fastest team in NHL history to reach 100 points.
On Saturday, they imposed their will upon the New York Rangers on national TV., improving their record to an astounding 49-8-5. The Rangers were looking to showcase their newly-acquired talent in the form of Patrick Kane and Vladimir Taresenko. It didn’t go as planned, and the Bruins won their tenth straight.
Even when it looks like the Bruins are trying to lose, they can’t. Last week against Calgary, the Bruins were dominated on the last day of their long western road trip, being outshot 57-20. And they still won. How does that happen?
Success After Uncertain Offseason
All of this year’s success comes after an offseason of uncertainty. Many of the younger players on the Bruins let their millennial nature get the best of them, making it known to the media that they were not a fan of Bruce Cassidy’s tough coaching style. Bruins left winger Jake DeBrusk was the ringleader.
After struggling for much of last season, he requested a trade from Boston. When Cassidy was fired, Debrusk rescinded this request. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to connect the dots on why he may have done that. Defenseman Brandon Carlo noted the “mental battles” he faced during Cassidy’s tenure as coach.
It’s hard to believe that professional hockey players can’t handle a few extra laps at the end of practice, but nonetheless, GM Don Sweeney gave in to the young players and fired Cassidy.
Coach Montgomery Bringing The Best Out Of Players
And to his credit, the results have been absolutely stellar. The team results have obviously been there, but many individual players have rediscovered their game under new coach Jim Montgomery. Jake DeBrusk, for example, has proven to be a crucial part of the Bruins’ success alongside Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. He has tallied 19 goals and 18 assists this season.
His absence was notable when he was sidelined with injury for a few weeks. Even the veteran Nick Foligno, a corpse of his former self last year, has dramatically improved and become a huge asset on the fourth line. Oh, and did I mention Linus Ullmark, the Vezina favorite?
Can Bruins Avoid Playoff Choke?
Yes, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has come up aces for the Bs in 2023. But the regular season success that the team has had does nothing to eliminate the stench of choking that they have wreaked off in the past. All Bruins fans know about the DNA of the Bruins going back to the first few years of Claude Julien’s tenure.
We all remember the 2010 choke job against the Flyers. That year, the Bruins made their best New York Yankees impression and blew the historically insurmountable 3-0 series lead. To make matters worse, they blew a 3-0 lead in Game 7 at home.
Other Bruin underachievements over the past 15 years include getting bounced in the first round by the 7th-seeded Capitals in 2012, losing to the hated Montreal Canadiens in 2014 after winning the President’s Trophy, and of course, the gag job in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals against the Blues.
Veterans Cementing Their Legacy
Even with all of these underachievements over the years, winning the Cup in 2011 is no small achievement, which is why the Patrice Bergeron Bruins aren’t seen as complete chokers. Even so, the difference between winning one and two cups is massive.
Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci, the three remaining members of the 2011 team, could be viewed as one-hit wonders who benefited from a red-hot goalie in Tim Thomas. Many people, myself included, will be left thinking they should’ve won more after that trio retires.
Championship or Bust
Given the absurdity of the Bruins’ success this season, anything other than a championship would be considered a complete failure. Their success has the chance to hurt their legacies. No one wants to be the team with the best record in regular season history rather than lose in the championship. The 2016 Golden State Warriors know that all too well.
Conversely, if the Bruins cap their dominant season with a championship parade, the team will be viewed completely differently. They will have been competitive every year for the better of two decades, going to four Stanley Cup Finals and winning two. Doesn’t that sound a lot better, Bruins fans?
Legacies are on the line. Prove the doubters wrong and bring the Cup back to Causeway Street.
You can follow me on Twitter @jrk899. Thanks for reading!