The state of Massachusetts has been the site of six major championships since the turn of the century and by early June it could be getting its first Stanley Cup in over 30 years.
Coming into this NHL season, the Boston Bruins were expected to battle for the bottom two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference. Critics believed that the Bruins would find it difficult to improve on their lacklustre offence last year, finishing 25th in goals in 2007-08. They were knocked for having two goaltenders the age of 34 that were arguably career backups in the NHL. The Bruins were supposed to have young inexperienced defensemen and an unproven NHL coach.
Now it is time for all of those who thought the Bruins would be basement dwellers and thought they should trade Marc Savard and blow up the team, to set your place settings at the table because it is officially time for you to eat your words; and believe me, there will be enough for seconds.
The Bruins currently have scored the second most goals in the NHL only one goal behind the defending Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings. The B’s have also allowed the second fewest goals against in the NHL, just two behind the Minnesota Wild with a game in hand.
With the likes of Savard (49), Phil Kessel (40) and David Krejci (41) all averaging a point-per-game or more, the Bruins are getting production from their top three centers and have all their lines producing. They are headed towards having seven players with over 50-point seasons. Head coach Claude Julien has found a way to get the most out of Michael Ryder again and Blake Wheeler both on the offensive and defensive ends of the rink.
Sophomore Milan Lucic is leading the league in hits with 154 in 40 games, many of highlight fashion, and has been the main muscle behind an offensive attack that is making opposition defensemen weary. With 26 points, Lucic has already inserted himself as a fan favourite in “The City on a Hill”.
These players have all stepped up at different times making Patrice Bergeron’s offensive load a little lighter having come back from a serious concussion suffered last year.
Boston’s captain Zdeno Chara has recuperated from his off-season shoulder surgery staggeringly well. He has taken young defenceman, Dennis Wideman under his wing and has helped turn Wideman into a responsible defenceman that is leading the league in plus/minus, a category in which the Bruins currently hold four of the top five sports.
Both Manny Fernandez and Tim Thomas have defied the effects of ageing and are in the top five in the NHL in both save percentage and goals against average and are well on their way to winning the William M. Jennings Trophy, but that is not going to be the only hardware the Bruins will take back to Beantown.
The new and improved Big Bad Bruins are on pace to earn 58 wins and 127 points this year. These totals would break their previous team records of 57 and 121 in 1970-71, when the likes of Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Wayne Cashman, Gerry Cheevers and Ace Bailey all donned the iconic Bruin sweater only to lose to the Canadiens in the Stanley Cup Final.
The Bruins have won 13 of their last 15 and if they can continue their hot play, the Duck Boats that have been chariots many times down to City Hall for the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox will have to be done up in the black, gold and white spoked B with a special spot for a tea-filled Lord Stanley.