The Prince of Wales trophy has the potential to be in the hands (or not in the hands depending on if you believe in jinx’s) of the Boston Bruins again this year. After beating the Minnesota Wild 4-1 and extending their win streak to nine games in a row, the Bruins are clicking on all cylinders going in to the playoffs. The Boston Bruins are currently number one in the Eastern Conference and would appear to have a great mixture of veteran talent and young rising stars and are emerging as the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.
In the past year and a half, the front office of the Bruins have re-tooled and re-loaded the team in the hopes of accomplishing what they had accomplished in 2011… a Stanley Cup Championship. With the reemergence of 36-year-old Jarome Iginla as a stud, who is first on the team in goals (25) and second on the team in total points (55), coupled with a healthy Loui Eriksson, Assistant Captain Patrice Bergeron, and Captain Zdeno Chara, the Bruins have the veteran leadership to keep the young guns on the team in check and motivated during a big playoff push. Iginla and Eriksson both have yet to win a Stanley Cup and specifically came to Boston to do just that. Bergeron (who scored two goals in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals) and Chara both were on the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship team and know what it takes to win a championship… a truly valuable factor to have when you are in the playoffs.
The Boston Bruins emergence as powerhouse of the Eastern Conference have also been due in part because of the young and rising stars of the team, which cannot go unnoticed. On the front lines, players like David Krejci (who leads the team in points), Milan Lucic (who is 25-years-old and third in scoring), Brad Marchand (also 25 and second in goals scored), and the young 22-year-old Reilly Smith (fourth in scoring) are truly on the rise to stardom and a force to be reckon with on the ice. The youth movement, however, does not stop there. On the back lines, under the tutelage of veteran defensemen like Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk, young defensemen like Torey Krug (who is only 22-years-old and leads all defensemen in points) and the huge 20-year-old Dougie Hamilton (son of Canadian Olympians Doug and Lynn Hamilton) are the face of future star defensemen in the NHL.
The playoffs are 28 days away, but it is never too early to speculate about the Cup. If the playoffs were to start today, the Bruins would have the home ice advantage in every series of the playoffs as well as a very nice looking road to the Finals. In the first round, they would face the struggling New York Rangers. The Bruins are 3-0 in their season series against the New York Rangers, but with a goalie like Henrik Lundquist, anything can happen. In the next round, they would face the winner of the Tampa Bay Lightning-Montreal Canadiens series. The Bruins swept the season series with the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0- including two shutouts. Montreal, however, is in the lead of their season series 2-1 with one game left to play. On the other side of the bracket (which includes the Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets), the Bruins post an amazing 8-2 record against them.
Even if you are not a fan of the Boston Bruins, you have to give credit where credit is due. They have gone out, got the talent, have made themselves legitimate Stanley Cup contenders not just for this year, but for years to come, and have a Head Coach like Julien at the helm who is always keeping his foot on the gas pedal saying this after an easy win, “trust me, it’s not our best.” The Bruins have emerged as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference Championship and in some areas of the hockey world (psst… Boston) are even favorites to win the whole thing. Be sure to watch the Bruins take on the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night and the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday March 27th in a pair of potential Stanley Cup previews.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles