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Why the Bruins Will Win the Stanley Cup (and Why They Won’t)

The Bruins are the best team in Boston.

Something that would have been ridiculous to say in November in now truth, and the Bruins are a legitimate Stanley Cup threat. On November 16th, the Bruins were 6-7-4, 26th in the NHL. Since then, all they’ve done is be the best team in the NHL. They’ve lost just 9 games in regulation and are a league best 39-10-4 in since that date, including a historic 18 game point streak. The second seed in the Atlantic is all but locked up, and they’re chasing down Tampa for first in the division, and the NHL, a team they have 10 more points than since November 16th. Though constantly beat up by injuries, this Bruins team has proved time and time again that they can win under any circumstance and that they are a special team, the latest two being an incredible 6-4 win over Carolina after bing down 4-1 with 10 minutes to go, and a dominant 3-0 win over the top team in the East, the Tampa Bay Lightning. We did this for the Red Sox over the summer and that didn’t go so well… but

 

Here’s why the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup… and why they won’t:

 

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if: They’re healthy.

If the Bruins can go into the playoffs, and through the playoffs with a full roster, I’m not sure there’s a team in the league that can beat them. Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak is the best line in hockey, playing over 425 minutes together at 5 on 5 and only allowing 9 goals against. Marchand and Bergeron (probably lesser so now with his injury) are both legit MVP candidates, and they would over match any other top line in the league. The second line of Jake DeBrusk – David Krejci – Rick Nash is nothing to shake your head at either, and makes up one of the best top 6 forward groups in the league. The Bruins also allow the second least shots and goals per game in the league, and a healthy Bruins team just may be a Stanley Cup winning Bruins team.

The Bruins won’t win the Stanley Cup if: They’re injured.

This has been just a catastrophic year for injuries for the Bruins, and honestly it’s a miracle they are where they are despite it. Here’s a list of missed games by player due to injury (spreadsheet view):

Anders Bjork: 28 (and out for the season)

Adam McQuaid: 36

Noel Acciari: 21

Ryan Spooner: 20*

David Krejci: 18

David Backes: 17

Peter Cehlarik: 16

Kevan Miller: 14

Patrice Bergeron: 14 (currently injured)

Charlie McAvoy: 12 (currently injured)

Brad Marchand: 9

Frank Vatrano: 7*

Tuukka Rask: 5

Anton Khudobin: 4

Torey Krug: 5 (left game Tuesday)

Jake DeBrusk: 5 (currently injured)

Zdeno Chara: 2 (currently injured)

Matt Grzelcyk: 2

Riley Nash: 1

Austin Czarnik: 1

Danton Heinen: 0

Sean Kuraly: 0

David Pastrnak: 0

Trade Deadline Acquisitions (Nash, Gionta, Wingels, Holden): 0

*Before trade

Going into the playoffs, this is what scares me most. Bergeron and McAvoy are out, and Marchand, Rask, Chara, Krug, DeBrusk and Grzelcyk have all been banged up recently. As good as this Bruins team is, injuries could kill them come playoff time. I genuinely believe that the only thing that can stop this team in health, but that can be said for every team as well. With the 2nd seed essentially locked up, the Bruins goal in these last four weeks need to be to get healthy.

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if: Tuukka Rask doesn’t falter.

Any Stanley Cup winning team needs their goalie to perform well, that’s a given. After his tough start that saw him briefly lose his starting job to Anton Khudobin, Tuukka Rask has been great. Not Vezina winning, but very good, and that’s all the Bruins will need out of him to make a deep run. Rask has recently regressed from his absurd and unsustainable .940-.950 run through December and January, but is still a goalie well capable of leading a team to a Stanley Cup. The Bruins have allowed nearly 300 less shot attempts than any other team and the second least 5v5 goals against. If they can keep up these numbers in the playoffs, Rask won’t need to be the Rask he was in January. As long as he’s not bad and losing games on his own, the Bruins should be fine.

The Bruins won’t win the Stanley Cup if: Tuukka Rask falters

You can say this for any NHL team, but if the Bruins don’t get adequate goaltending, they’re not going anywhere. Anton Khudobin has been great as a backup this season, and got some key early season wins to turn the season around, but he is far from the playoff savior of this team. Every Stanley Cup Champion needs their goalie to bail them out with a huge save, as current Bruin Brian Gionta knows, and if Rask can’t come up with that save, or lets in an ill-timed softy, it could sink the Bruins.

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if: David Krejci is vintage playoff David Krejci

People forget that David Krejci lead the playoffs in scoring in both 2011 and 2013. Now that Krejci finally has stable line mates for the first time since 2014, he may be ready to replicate his past playoff performances. Since swapping out Ryan Spooner for Rick Nash, Bruce Cassidy has put a lot more trust in the second line. From @bruins_stats on twitter, here’s the boom in offensive production Rick Nash has created since joining the Bruins:

Nash hasn’t necessarily put up incredible production, but he’s created a significant amount of offense and David Krejci has seemed to find his stride, with 8 points in his last 9 games. The production will need to come from Nash if they want to still be playing in June, but getting his line mates going is just as important. If Nash, Krejci, and DeBrusk can create a similar line to the Lucic-Krejci-Horton line of 2011, team are going to have a lot of trouble stopping this team from scoring

The Bruins won’t win the Stanley Cup if: The PK is exploited

Now, I know this is nit-picky but it’s a trend I’ve caught onto lately. Teams are getting the puck to the dot, traffic in front and ripping it past a Bruins goalie.

Here’s five times they’ve gotten beat on it recently, all five were goals.

It’s probably just a small adjustment, but it’s absolutely a necessity. The Bruins aren’t the most discipline team in the league, so if a team gets 3-plus chances a goal to score on a power play and knows an exact way to do it, they’re gunna come out on top. You can win without a power play, but you can’t win without a penalty kill.

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if: Torey Krug leads the power play to be a weapon

The Bruins power play has been good all year at 22.2%, good for 6th in the league. If they can continue, or improve on this it’s already an upgrade on the 2011 team, who won the cup with a dismal 11.4% power play. Look no further than Torey Krug to make this engine run.

From Saturday night in Tampa, here’s the Bruins power play formation on Riley Nash’s goal:

It’s essentially a 5 forward unit. Torey Krug, the only defenseman on the ice, will start at the point off the face off, than switch to the half board and quarterback the power play, then have Brad Marchand at the point. Patrice Bergeron, when healthy, will replace Riley Nash in the bumper position that he has done so well his entire career. With Bergeron being so lethal from this spot, he’s not only a legitimate threat to score, but it can force the forwards to get sucked lower than ideal, allowing Marchand to be open at the point. David Pastrnak is the far side winger as they look to set him up for the Ovechkin like one timer. Rick Nash plants his body in front as a screen and can open himself up for tips and deflections in front. This power play unit has to potential to be a weapon come playoff time, and could even make team be more conservative to avoid taking penalties.

The Bruins won’t win the Stanley Cup if: Voodoo happens

Hockey’s crazy, man. It’s such a random sport that anything can happen. Any team can beat any team on any night. Buffalo, the worst team in the east, beat Tampa, Boston (x2), and Toronto, the three best teams in the east, all in a 3 week span. Who was expecting Nashville to sweep Chicago last year? How did the 8 seed Kings play the 6 seed Devils in the 2012 Cup Final? The Bruins hit over 20 posts in their round 2 loss to the Canadiens in 2014. Have you ever realized how close the Bruins were to not winning the cup in 2011? A bounce here or there and they’re out early and Claude Julien is probably fired. Anything can happen in the playoffs, and a poorly timed injury, post, deflection, bounce, or anything else can spell the devastating end of a season. It’s an impalpable, indescribable thing that can happen at anytime during a hockey game, and you’ve just got to hope to doesn’t happen to your team.

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if: They just keep doing what they’re doing

In their last 10 games since Patrice Bergeron went down with an injury, the Bruins are 8-2. They’re 5-2 without Bergeron and McAvoy, and beat the Lightning without Bergeron, McAvoy, Backes, Chara and DeBrusk. They’ve been doing it since November, there’s no reason it should stop now. If the Bruins just continue what they’ve been doing for the past 4 months, they can beat anybody.

The Bruins won’t win the Stanley Cup if: Nah, they’re winning this thing

Unlike the Red Sox, there’s no team that I don’t think this team can beat. Predators, Jets, Lightning, Penguins, doesn’t matter. Sky’s the limit for this team, and they all love eachother. I just don’t want this ride to end.

Like come on, you can’t tell me this team isn’t going all the way.

 

Follow on twitter @jIabruins

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