After an incredible Stanley Cup victory for the Boston Bruins last week, these last several days for the Bruins have flown by. They capped off their championship with a long-overdue parade in Boston.
However, as soon as the last piece of confetti dropped, the big question on everybody’s minds was, “Can they repeat?” With a long summer in front of hockey fans, I’m going to look ahead and see if they have it in them to join the ranks of great teams like the Islanders of the '80s or the Penguins of '91-'92.
The Bruins are going to start the 2012 season with a huge target on their back. Will the Bruins be able to handle it? Veteran players like Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton should be able to quickly shake off the championship hangover and show why they are the team to beat. However, it could be a struggle for younger players like Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand.
Marchand had an exceptional rookie campaign, as he scored 21 goals and had a total of 41 points. No one was expecting him to have an amazing postseason, but he had probably one of the greatest postseason performances for a Bruins rookie ever. He set the Bruins' rookie record with 11 goals in a postseason. Now Boston fans are expecting him to put up those gaudy numbers in the regular season.
How will he fare? We have to wait and see if he can handle the spotlight.
Tyler Seguin is a whole different story. At only 19, he won a Stanley Cup, something that legends like Marcel Dionne never did in their whole career. How will he come back in his second season? Seguin can comeback in two ways. One way is that he returns hungrier for a second title and proves he was worthy of the second pick in the NHL draft. The second way is that he starts his second season unmotivated because he already has a Stanley Cup. Only time will tell.
Can the Bruins stay healthy? The biggest cliché in sports is the question of whether a team can stay healthy. The Bruins lost an incredibly clutch player in Nathan Horton, due to a hit from Vancouver’s defenseman Aaron Rome in this year’s cup finals. Following the hit, they were strong enough to power through and outscore the Canucks in the final five games by a combined score of 16-4. Every injury is not going to end up like that though.
The Bruins learned that the hard way last year after Tim Thomas suffered a hip injury early in the season, and young goalie Tuukka Rask was forced to step in. Even though Rask had a great rookie season, he ended up choking in the final four games against the Flyers, as the Bruins famously blew a 3-0 lead in the second round of the playoffs. With Bergeron only a concussion away from his career being over and Savard not the same since his concussion, injuries are a major concern for this Bruins team.
The one player that can either make or break the Bruins' season next year is goalie Tim Thomas. It would be a lie to say he has his best years ahead of him. The 37-year-old veteran is quickly heading towards his retirement. However, he proved many people wrong (including me) by coming back from the hip injury and had arguably the greatest season a Boston goaltender has ever had. How many surprises does he have left though?
Fortunately, the Bruins do have a promising young goalie in Tuukka Rask waiting in the wings. But he is not experienced enough to produce the type of postseason run Thomas supplied the Bruins with this year.
As Boston Bruins fans happily enjoy the Stanley Cup returning to Boston for the first time in 39 years, many fans are wondering if it’s going to come back for a second straight summer. Or is it going to a city like Vancouver or Washington? Only time will tell, but for now we will happily bask in the Cup’s silver glory.