The 2011 Stanley Cup champions found themselves eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs after a devastating, 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals in Game 7. Next season, however, the Bruins will rally behind their misfortune—all the way to the Stanley Cup.
"We feel that we've come a long way to keeping this critical mass together for this team because I believe it's a strong team and will continue to be a strong team," said Bruins' general manager Peter Chiarelli (via NHL.com).
Realistically, the lucky bounce that propelled the Capitals into the quarterfinals could have gone in Boston's favor just as easily. Unfortunately, the Bruins got the short end of the stick in Game 7.
This does not change the fact that Boston is arguably the best defensive team in the Eastern Conference.
If their forwards continue to step it up next season, as they have in numerous seasons before, the Bruins can soon become the best offensive team in the East as well.
Some have speculated that the absence of starting goalie Tim Thomas will hinder the Bruins' season next year; others suspect that some of Boston's forwards will not be able to keep their numbers up.
But they are mistaken.
Here are five reasons why Boston is destined to have their seventh taste of silver in 2013.
During the 2012 NHL Skills Competition, star defenseman Zdeno Chara wowed Ottawa with his slap shot—clocked at 108.8 MPH. The 6'9" Slovakian's game revolves around the sheer power that Chara is more than capable of delivering.
With a 100-mile-per-hour shot, it is no wonder why Chara was able to notch a 52-point season in 2012—a total that is impressive for a forward, let alone a defenseman.
Chara is the whole trifecta; he can hit, score and lead a team to the cup.
The 35-year-old is a huge part of why the Bruins' defense is one of the most feared in the game. Chara boosts the play of linemate Dennis Seidenberg and keeps the Bruins' veteran defense in check.
Chara and the Bruins are one of the few Eastern Conference teams that did not bat an eye at the New York Rangers acquisition of Rick Nash. In fact, the Blue Shirts will still be shaking in their skates at the sight of Chara—even with their new Canadian sniper.
Chara and the rest of the Bruins' defense are experts at shutting down the league's best forwards.
Tyler Seguin came out of nowhere last year with a huge breakout season (29 G, 38 A, 67 PTS). The young Bruin, who was just shy of hitting the 30-goal mark in his sophomore season, has shown that he will be a stellar forward for at least the next decade.
Seguin also had the second-highest plus/minus in the league (plus-34)—right behind teammate Patrice Bergeron (plus-36).
According to boston.com, head coach Claude Julien had to scratch the 20-year-old last December after Seguin missed one too many team meetings.
“It is a mistake,’’ Seguin said (via: boston.com). “Something you can really only learn from and move on. It was a mistake. I know it wasn’t professional. It’s going to have consequences. It’s against team rules. Tonight I paid the consequences.’’
This was merely a small hiccup, which Seguin was mature enough to own up to. Seguin is 20 years old and moments like this are what helps a kid with his talent grow.
Ultimately, Seguin's play will only get better. As long as Seguin is a Bruin, Boston can expect a prodigious performance out of him.
Last season, the Boston Bruins filled the top-five spots for best plus/minus with Patrice Bergeron (plus-36), Tyler Seguin (plus-34), Zdeno Chara (plus-33), Chris Kelly (plus-33) and Brad Marchand (plus-31) respectively.
Boston was also tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for most goals per game in the league last season (3.17). As if that were not enough, they had the sixth-lowest goals-against per game (2.43).
The Bruins are a team that is well-versed in the simple formula of winning games—score a lot of goals and do not let any up.
According to NHL.com, the Bruins have lead the league in goal differential two seasons in a row and three of the past four.
No one should be upset that the Bruins have not made many big moves during this offseason. The Bruins are incredibly well-rounded and do not need to change a thing right now.
The scale in Boston is no longer tipped toward their defense; it is in perfect balance. Boston's forwards have really begun to step it up and that has complimented their defense perfectly.
The Bruins have established a solid top-six offense:
Tyler Seguin: 29 G, 38 A, 67 PTS
Patrice Bergeron: 22 G, 42 A, 64 PTS
David Krejci: 23 G, 39 A, 62 PTS
Milan Lucic: 26 G, 35 A, 61 PTS
Brad Marchand: 28 G, 27 A, 55 PTS
Nathan Horton: 17 G, 15 A, 32 PTS (in only 46 games)
Behind these guys is a 6'9" defender Zdeno Chara, who notched 52 points last season.
Goals are not hard to come by for the Bruins. The points are well dispersed and the Bruins team play makes an Alexander Ovechkin-type figure unnecessary.
With arguably the best offensive top-six in the league and the best defense in the league, it is no wonder why Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli is not concerned with making changes—he does not need to.
During the offseason, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas announced that he would be taking a year away from hockey so he can focus more of his time toward friends and family (via NHL.com).
Last season, Tuukka Rask was frequently mentioned along with Cory Schneider and Brian Elliot as noteworthy backup goalies. The 25-year-old has gotten his sea legs—Thomas could not have left at a better time.
"He's a terrific young goalie and I think he's going to seize the opportunity," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli (via NHL.com). "There will probably be some bumps in the road to start, just mentally because of having the No. 1 label on you, but he's always shown he can play through that stuff."
Rask had an average total in the win column last year (11-8-3), but had a lower goals-against average (2.05) and a higher save percentage (.929%) than Thomas (GAA 2.36, SV% .920).
Thomas might have been the netminder during Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup run, but he hardly put up a Jonathan Quick-like performance. Keep in mind Thomas was playing behind the best defensive team in the NHL.
Thomas is too much of a wild card in net. He does not play the butterfly and sacrifices rebounds and composure as a result.
Rask is young, plays more economically and saves pucks without the unnecessary theatrics.
Thomas' departure might mean less ESPN highlight-reel appearances for Boston, but it will also mean less pucks in the Bruins' net.
Rask is ready to take the reigns in net for the Bruins.