Since the Detroit Red Wings from 1996-1997 and ’97-’98, no other team has hoisted Lord Stanley in consecutive years.
The no-repeat streak could very well be coming to an end this season, with the Boston Bruins doing the honors. Like the Wings before them, the Bruins returned nearly their entire roster from their championship run last June.
After sobering up from the dreaded (and very real) “Stanley Cup hangover” (3-7-0 in October), the Bs have gone 28-7-2, leaving them second in the Eastern Conference. With the All-Star break over and done with, the Bruins opened up the second half of their schedule Tuesday.
With a postseason berth almost a certainty (I won’t guarantee it…think Red Sox), here is a look at the keys to a successful second half, playoff run and a potential repeat.
The Bruins have stayed remarkably healthy the entire season thus far and keeping that luck is essential for a repeat. On the Sunday before the All-Star break, Nathan Horton was knocked out of action after a cheap shot from Philadelphia’s Tom Sestito.
Considering Horton’s past concussion history, it is logical to be a bit skeptical of a quick return, but all the Bs can do is cross their fingers. Other than that, the Bruins have gone through the season completely unscathed besides the unavoidable bumps and bruises.
By this point, the news of Tim Thomas skipping the team’s celebratory trip to the White House is old news. However, the shockwaves have not yet died down. The trade rumors are already starting and quickly being shot down.
Whether it was the right or wrong decision is meaningless at this point. A source from inside the Bruins’ locker room referred to Thomas as an “[expletive] selfish [expletive].” Whatever beef that exists needs to be squashed immediately before this becomes another comparison to the 2011 Boston Red Sox.
Adding to an already deep lineup:
It can be argued that the Bruins already boast the NHL’s deepest lineup front to back, with seven players already over the 30-point plateau. The Bruins lead the league in goals scored (175) while ranking third in goals allowed (105). This being said, it can never hurt to add to an already great team.
Some will argue that “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” but stocking up in case of injury is something the front office will surely look at. The Bruins have plenty of young talent and draft picks they could part with if the right deal came up.
Should the right defenseman come along or a veteran forward with leadership skill, don’t be surprised if general manager Peter Chiarelli and company pull the trigger and make a deal.
The only issue with the goaltending tandem of Thomas and Tuukka Rask is that it is becoming difficult to decide who should play more. Again, this is not so much an issue as it is an equation.
Thomas is the No. 1 and his numbers more than back that up (21-9-0, 2.15 GAA, .933 save %). On any other team, these numbers are more than enough, but Rask is doing his very best to unseat his “superior” (11-5-2, 1.82, .938). In all likelihood, Rask will see an increase in playing time come the end of the regular season, while Thomas uses the rest to gear up for the playoffs.
With the stretch run looming, the Bruins, as they have all season, will have targets on their backs each and every game. Teams on the outside of the playoff picture looking in view the Bruins as a huge opportunity for a momentum boost and bring their “A” games when facing the defending champs.
Should the Bruins continue to play the way they can and have all season, they will be one tough team to beat in a seven-game series come playoff time. With a little bit of luck and a lot of hard work, the no-repeat streak could see its end, with the Stanley Cup returning to the Hub of Hockey once more.