Will a historic season lead to historic run to the Cup?
Updated: Mar 25
The 2022-2023 Boston Bruins season is a season that has been like absolute no other. Explosive offense; solid defense along with just outstanding goaltending, the Bruins have been an absolute wagon from the start of the season and have not let up once. Linus Ullmark being the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season; Jim Montgomery absolutely will be the odds on favorite to win the Jack Adams Award; David Pastrnak in the top of the league in scoring; everything is coming up Boston. The Bruins have certainly set plenty of records this season. Longest win streak at home to begin a season by starting out 14-0-0 at TD Garden; fastest team to 100 points in a season, breaking the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens record of 62 games; Bruins did it in 61 games. For as impressive as this run for the Bruins has been this season, it won't matter if the Bruins aren't the ones hoisting the Stanley Cup in mid to late June.
After a disappointing end to the 2021-22 season, being eliminated by the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games in the first round of the NHL Playoffs, the Bruins realized that changes needed be made. The seats of both General Manager Don Sweeney and Head Coach Bruce Cassidy were fairly hot. It was up to team President Cam Neely to make a decision, stick with the man who has made fantastic trades but question able draft choices or the man who brought the team back from the dead in late 2017 and with a tough love coaching style. It was a big decision.
Ultimately, Don Sweeney's job was safe and it lead to the exit of Cassidy who got hired by the Vegas Golden Knights just one week later to become their new head coach. It was an uncertain and uneasy offseason for the Bruins. At the time; Jake DeBrusk was still contemplating getting traded, Captain Patrice Bergeron was debuting whether he was going to be back or not. Both Brad Marchand and Charlie McCoy had off-season surgery and were slated to miss at the first two months of the season. Plus the decision to keep Sweeney over Cassidy sparked plenty of debate as well. The decision to hire Montgomery after learning about his exit with the Dallas Stars; another decision that was meat with criticism. It seemed that a dark cloud was starting hover over the Bruins like it was towards the end of Claude Juilien's tenure. A team that was good enough to compete but not enough to make any noise to either make the playoffs or go on a sustained run.
Well many months later, 63 games through the season and on pace to not only clinch the Presidents Trophy as the best team in the NHL. The Bruins stand at 49-9-5 103 points; best team in the league and odds on favorites to win the Stanley Cup. Yes, you are reading this correctly. While headlines have been dominated by the Celtics hot start as well and their issues, the Patriots and offseason news and whatever the Red Sox are up to, the Bruins have just been doing their thing, and that's been winning. The Bruins only have 14 combined losses. Losses coming in regulation or overtime/shootout. It's been impressive what the Bruins have done to this point. Plus Don Sweeney getting absolute steals not only in the offseason but during the season as well.
During the offseason, Don Sweeney was able to bring back David Krecji who played a year in the Czech Republic due to family reasons. Patrice Bergeron came back for his 19th season. Jake DeBrusk rescinding his trade request after almost after Cassidy got dumped. Sweeney also pulled a trade for Pavel Zacha from the New Jersey Devils for Eric Haula. Plus with the Bruins going all in on the goaltending duo of Ullmark & Jeremy Swayman. During the season; Sweeney seems to have doubled down on the 'all-in' approach as Sweeney traded multiple picks prior to the trade deadline to Washington, Minnesota and Detroit in order to land top talent in Tyler Bertuzzi; Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway. Sure you can look at is as a gamble for the short term while possibly affecting the team long term but if it ends up in a championship then it would help soften the blow.
The last time the Bruins have looked this good; this late into a season was the 2019-2020 season. We all know how that ended up. A historic pandemic halted what could've been a historic season and run to cup; to avenge the 2019 Cup Final heartbreak. The Bruins needed up not being the top seed and got bounced in the second round by the eventual champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Thankfully this time around, don't think we'll have to worry a pandemic ruining a historical season for the Bruins. However, the playoff demons always have a way to poke their head around the corner.
If the Bruins do end up winning the President's Trophy, it would be the fourth time in the history of the franchise that they have and the second time in a four year span. However; the three times the Bruins have won the President's Trophy they have failed to win it all. The first time the Bruins won it was in the 1989-90 season. They got all the way to the Cup Final but lost to Edmonton four games to one. The Bruins won it again in the 2013-14 season, only to lose to the Montreal Canadiens in the second round four games to three. Again as mentioned earlier was the covid shortened 2019-20 season where the B's fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. The last time a team that won the Presidents Trophy and won the Stanley Cup was the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks who defeated the Bruins. Ironic? Possibly? Gut wrenching? Yep!
Since then, the Presidents Trophy winning team has failed failed to make it past the second round of the playoffs after having a dominant regular season. However looking at this Bruins team, with the core leaders and talent that was there from their most recent Cup run in Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, Krecji, DeBrusk, McAvoy and others. Hard not to think that this Bruins team isn't focused and locked in. While most of the media is talking about the Bruins and breaking all these regular season records and being deemed the best team ever, the Bruins are taking it one game at a time, not worried about what is being talked about outside the locker room. As it should be.
Only 10 more regular season games remain until the Stanley Cup Playoffs; which is scheduled to begin on Monday April 17th. Obviously it remains to be seen on whom the Bruins will play in the first round but one thing is certain, the Bruins will have home ice advantage in the first round. Possibly throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs as well but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Still plenty of hockey left to be played.