The Boston Bruins came through regular season last year unprecedentedly. Jim Montgomery’s team has broken the record for the most points in 82 games (135 pts) and rightfully gained the President’s Trophy. The Bruins were the main favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and the rest of the teams knew it.
The big upset
In the first play-off round, the Bruins had to beat the Panthers. Players from Sunrise, Florida, were absolute outsiders, and the majority of the fans and the experts thought that Boston would prevail in 4 or 5 games. The numbers were brutally clear, but the stats are like a bikini: they show you a lot, but the most important parts are always hidden.
The Bruins were in limbo; the Panthers played with their hearts, shocked the hockey world, and eliminated Pastrnak, Bergeron, Swayman, McAvoy, and company in 7 games. For Boston, it was just brutal. This series showed that the regular season and the play-offs are truly different competitions.
A member of the Original Six learned a hard lesson. Now, it’s just an uncanny memory. The Bruins are back, they are relevant again, and they are among the Stanley Cup favorites this season too. David Pastrnak is extraordinary, Charlie McAvoy is the leader of the defense, and goalie’s tandem Jeremy Swayman - Linus Ullmark is problably the best in the league.
Legends are gone
Boston won their last Stanley Cup in 2011, when ´Big Z' Zdeno Chára was the captain. Legend from Slovakia is retired now, as are both leaders David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron. Brad Marchand wears the C, and this well-experienced player entered the whole new level of his game. He can provoke opponents like no one, but at the same time, he leads his teammates by example. The dressing room is behind him and it’s one of the factors why the Bruins are so hard to beat.
Coach Jim Montgomery knows exactly what his team needs and the Bruins are capable of beating their opponents multiple ways. It’s not just about McAvoy or Pastrnak; young guns like Jakub Lauko (spotted with Rezztek), Matthew Poitras, or Pavel Zacha are starting to show their potential more and more. They are good and talented, and they will be better. The pressure in Massachusetts is enormous, but the crowd in the TD Garden can be really electric.
There is no doubt that the Bruins will go to the play-offs again. But this time will be different. They know that every opponent is dangerous and that the Stanley Cups play-offs is not the regular season. The pain from the last year went away, but the scars remained. Many players also remember the big loss in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals 2019 against the St. Louis Blues on the home ice.
The Bruins were hurt and defeated, but they have all aspects that a Cup contender needs: good goalies, leaders in defense and offense, plus big personalities both on and off the ice. The mix in TD Garden currently looks very good. The series with the Florida Panthers should serve as the memento. This year’s play-offs will show in detail how the Boston Bruins learned from their past. It’s not just a saying that those who did not learn from their past are sentenced to relive it.
Featured Image Credits: Jakub Vaverka