The Bruins finished the regular season at the top spot in the NHL and clinch their second franchise Presidents’ Trophy (for most points). The last time they won it was in the 1989-90 season. They got to the Stanley Cup Finals that year, but lost. Last year, the Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy, then they beat the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup. If we can take any implications from those two seasons, it would mean that the Bruins will get to the Finals, and since things in sports seem to follow trends, it should mean that they will win.
Still, implications and trends aside, if you really look closely at this Bruins team, you will see that they are not only the best team Boston has had arguably since the Cup-winning teams of the early 70′s, but they truly are the best, most complete, and deepest team in the league this year. There are numerous statistics that will tell you this. In all of the important and meaningful ones, the Bruins are first, second, or third, and in the other ones they are in the top five. This includes some that the NHL doesn’t track, but the local sports network NESN does, like how good teams are during five-on-five play (based on goal differential).. in which the Bruins are the best.
We also had the most wins at 54, least losses at 19, best ROW (regulation plus overtime wins) at 51, best point percentage (percentage of possible points earned per game) at .713, were third in goals per game at 3.15 (only 0.06 behind the leader), and second in goals against per game at 2.08 (only 0.03 behind the leader). Also, unlike 2011 when we had a terrible power play percentage (and still won the Stanley Cup), we were third this year at 21.7% (1.7% behind the leader). We were also eighth in penalty kill percentage at 83.6% (2.8% behind the leader). These are all pretty standard team stats, and we were at the top of most of them. If you somehow give a score to teams for their combination of ranks in all of the statistics, the Bruins would definitely be at the top. They are the best all around team by far. And as for the depth, just look at the statistics on the second and third line players. The Bruins have arguably the best third line in the league and their second line stands up to most teams’ top line. Just look at the Carl Soderberg highlights video below.
For individual players, the most important and telling statistic is plus/minus, which tells you the result of subtracting all of the goals scored against the player’s team while they were on the ice from the number scored by his team while he was on the ice. This is the most telling of players who play hard on both ends of the ice. For example, Alex Ovechkin scored the most goals of anyone in the regular season (51), but was third worst plus/minus (-35) out of 886 players! That is ridiculous!! ..and nearly impossible to do.. that is unless you are not a two-way player like him. He not only doesn’t even try to play defense, but it seems as though he only cares about his personal statistics. Players like this are a liability when you want your team to actually go somewhere.. hence his team not even making the playoffs and some teams that are normally considered pretty bad making it over his team.
So, considering the Bruins system is defensive minded, and their players are the type who really buy into it, we should have some of the best in plus/minus.. and we do. We have the top three in the league. We also have the fifth, 10th, 11th, 16th, 22nd, 29th, and 30th best in this category.. and remember, that’s out of 886 players! This alone shows how well-rounded and deep the team is, as well as how difficult they will be to beat. While just looking at goals isn’t really important, I will mention that this Bruins team has two 30-goal scorers in Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron, and three others wo had 20 or more. Also, David Krejci had 19, but led in points when adding in his 50 assists. But that’s the regular season. In both 2011, when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, and in 2013 when they went to the Finals, Krejci led the league in playoff points. Further, he led the league in playoff goals in 2011 and was second in 2013! He is always huge in the playoffs.
Now back to Patrice Bergeron, this was the second 30-goal season of his career, and Bruins president Cam Neely said this was the best he’s ever seen Bergeron play. But that doesn’t even begin to tell how valuable he is. He is the personification of the Bruins system. While he is a fantastic playmaker and great goal scorer, he is arguably the best defensive forward in the league year after year. He always hustles back to defend and is constantly in the perfect place to break up an opposing offensive play or steal a pass, then turn it into transition. He deserves to win the Selke Trophy (for best defensive forward) every year. He won it in the 2011-12 season, but deserves it again this year. On a side note, I think that if he wins one more big thing, like the Selke or a Stanley Cup, he will be a lock to get into the NHL Hall of Fame. He is also consistently one of the top faceoff winners. He’s the most complete player in the league in my opinion.
So we’re great on both offense and defense, but don’t forget about the goalie. Tuukka Rask has had a stellar year and should win the Vezina Trophy (for best goalie). He led the league in shutouts with seven and the best save percentage among starting goalies with .930. He was also led in goals against average with 2.04 among starting goalies. He’s second (only 0.07 behind the leader) if you count Cory Schneider as a starter, though he only became one later in the season and played 13 fewer games than Rask. Quick shout-out to Schneider who is a local boy from my hometown of Marblehead, MA.
So, what I’m really trying to say is that there is no reason the Bruins shouldn’t be able to win the Stanley Cup this year. Granted, the first round against the Red Wings will be tough, but the Bruins are so much better it would be a huge upset if they didn’t win the series. After that, because of the new playoff seeding system, we’ll face either the Canadiens or the Lightning, rather than the lowest seed left like if would’ve been in the past. I don’t really like this, but at the same time, if you’re going to win the Cup, you have to beat good teams. So be it. We can do it.
My playoff beard is trimmed and ready to grow and not be shaved until the Bruins are done. I hope yours is too. Even the ladies! No, not really the ladies. But ladies, you can still do your part by cheering on the team and wearing any Bruins gear you have.. or by supporting and dealing with your obsessed boyfriends/husbands if you’re not a fan. It’s that time of the year again Bruins nation.. It’s time to..
Now get pumped up for the first Bruins game on Friday April 18 with the following videos. (And is it me or does the NHL always make the Bruins have their first games way later than anyone else?) These videos are a bunch of Bruins season/playoffs promos. Some of them were made before the season started, so it’s old footage, but they should all get you amped up and ready to go.
Bruins are ready to throw down in the 2014 playoffs:
Bruins/Habs 2014 Playoffs Pump Up:
(I added this later but it’s awesome!)
Bruins 2013-14 season promos:
The Bruins’ 2013-14 season in photos/captions:
Carl Soderberg 2013-14 highlights:
Jarome Iginla’s 30 goals in the 2013-14 season:
Patrice Bergeron’s 30 goals in the 2013-14 season:
Thanks for reading,