The Boston Bruins have proven to be one of the most successful franchises in the NHL in recent memory, with six straight postseason appearances, two trips to the Stanley Cup Final and a Cup victory in 2011.
One constant throughout Boston's success over the past half-dozen years has been the stellar play of its stars. Zdeno Chara is one of the league's top defensemen (if that wasn't already established in Ottawa), Patrice Bergeron is one of the best two-way forwards in the NHL and David Krejci has emerged as a consistent point-producer.
The following will be obvious to diehard Bruins fans, but here are the best attributes of each of the Bruins' star players.
Lucic has solidified himself as one of the most effective power forwards in the league since he made his debut in 2007. The 25-year-old Vancouver native has registered over 60 points twice in his career and has notched over 100 penalty minutes three times.
Known for his hard hitting on the boards and net-front presence, Lucic has made a habit of banging in rebounds from in front of the crease and starting scrums after whistles.
The one knack on the big man is his poor skating ability. While that is a valid concern, he usually makes up for it by using his big frame (6'4", 220 pounds) to remain sturdy on the puck.
He registered 149 hits last season, which ranked 17th in the league. If his body can continue to handle the physical toll that comes with his playing style, Lucic should remain as one of the best offensive big men in the league for the next several seasons.
The captain of the Bruins is the physical and emotional leader of the club. He is a menace to opposing forwards by constantly shoving them in front of the net and using the largest frame in NHL history to prevent them from getting to prime scoring areas. Oh, and good luck battling for a puck in the corners when he's on the ice.
The 6'9" Slovakian has tallied over 1,500 penalty minutes in his 15 seasons and finally won the Norris Trophy in 2009. If it wasn't for a guy named Nick Lidstrom that played in Detroit, Big Z would have at least a couple more Norrises in his trophy case.
The other (and more exciting) part of Chara's game is his slap shot. He has won the "hardest shot" competition at each of the last five NHL All-Star skills competitions and and holds the record for hardest shot in the history of the competition. His record currently stands at 108.8 mph, set at the 2012 contest in Ottawa.
I could ramble on for another two paragraphs about his shot. Or you could just watch this.
David Krejci is the best passer on the Bruins roster, and that has resulted in the Czech native leading all scorers in two of the past three postseasons.
Since he made his debut (albeit only for six games) in 2006-07, Krejci has produced 218 assists, which leads the team during that span.
He has been the center for Boston's top line for the past several seasons, and the three-headed monster of Lucic, Krejci and Nathan Horton was an offensive juggernaut with Krejci in the middle. They were three of the top four scorers of last year's playoffs and played a significant role in Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup run before Horton suffered a concussion in Game 3 of the finals.
Jarome Iginla will most likely fill Horton's spot on the top line, and Krejci will be tasked with integrating him into Boston's system. Expect those two to fit in nicely with each other, and it shouldn't be a surprise if Iginla reaches 30 goals once again, with Krejci assisting on the majority of them.
The most polarizing player in black and gold is also one of the most enjoyable to watch.
In his three seasons in the league, Brad Marchand has become the biggest pest in the NHL. He gets under the skin of all of his opponents, goads them into penalties and, most importantly, scores goals.
He made his mark during the Bruins' 2011 Stanley Cup run by repeatedly punching Daniel Sedin in the face after the whistle was blown (without so much as a shove back from the Swede).
It certainly did.
He has 67 goals in his three-plus seasons, which has kept him on the Bruins' No. 2 line with Patrice Bergeron.
During this year's playoff run, Marchand displayed all of his endearing (!) qualities in a matter of seconds.
It started with "the rat" and fellow pest Matt Cooke barking at each other near Boston's blue line. Then Marchand noticed his team had control of the puck. He turned away from Cooke, skated up the ice and received a pass just after entering the zone. He promptly buried it glove side past Marc-Andre Fleury (who had just entered the game in relief of Tomas Vokoun).
He slashed, chirped and scored all in one play. Those are three of his favorite things.
It's about time for Bergeron to file a suit in court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to change his name to Mr. Everything.
He passes, scores, hits, blocks shots, kills penalties, wins faceoffs and Zams the ice between periods. Everyone remembers his Cup-clinching performance against the Canucks in 2011. And why wouldn't they? He scored the game-winning goal in the first period and added a second goal on a short-handed breakaway in the second.
Last season, his heroics were back like *NSYNC. He tied Game 7 of the conference quarterfinals in the final minute against Toronto and then scored the game-winner in overtime. Against Pittsburgh, he notched another overtime goal to put Boston up 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Final.
He was the team-leader in plus/minus during the 2013 regular season and is by far the team's best penalty killer. The guy does everything.
He won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward and the NHL Plus/Minus Award for the 2011-12 season. Last season, he won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his work off the ice. He digs in the corners for pucks, acts as a third defenseman in his own zone (like centers are supposed to) and helps anchor the power play. He is also the defensive backs coach for the New England Patriots.
Mr. Everything turned into Mr. Hurt Everything during the Stanley Cup Final this past season against Chicago, playing with broken ribs, a punctured lung, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder. If there was a seventh game, he wouldn't have been able to play, according to Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe.
Shinzawa is a damn good reporter, but something tells me Mr. Everything would have played in Game 7. The guy does everything.