How Boston left the rest of the NHL behind. Far behind.


“We have a lot of guys with a ton of experience in tough situations who don’t get discouraged or change at all.”

The Bruins have had a lot to celebrate so far this season. PA

BOSTON — From the time the Boston Bruins gathered for training camp in September, the players were under mandate. Almost every team strives to win the Stanley Cup, of course, but the Bruins were driven by a deeper purpose.

Patrice Bergeron, their beloved captain, and David Krejci, another admired veteran, had both returned to play for Boston, possibly for one final season. The rest of the players, coaching staff and front office have united in a great effort to win a championship in what could be the last chance for the two leaders, mainstays of the organization for over a decade.

“It would mean the world to us to send him to the top,” defender Charlie McAvoy said during a recent practice, referring first to Bergeron, then to Krejci. “It’s definitely an extra part of our motivation, because it would be amazing. It’s him, it’s Krejci. It’s about not wanting to skip a beat, wanting to be present in every moment, because they don’t may not be there next year, so you don’t want to let them down.

For the first five months of the season, the Bruins adhered to this doctrine at a record pace, at least until recently, when a curiously botched stretch cast doubt on the entire company.

Everything was going so well. Last week, the Bruins reached 50 wins in just 64 games, faster than any team in NHL history. They had a goal differential of 105 at the time, more than double the next closest team, and with 15 games to go they could still at least equal the record for most wins in a season, 62 , established by the Detroit Red Wings. in 1996 and tied by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019.

After reaching 50 wins, the Bruins lost in Detroit and Chicago to teams with losing records. McAvoy spoke on behalf of his teammates when he said no one wanted to let Bergeron and Krejci down, but that’s what happened in Chicago on Tuesday, when Boston lost, 6-3, to a team entirely dedicated to reconstruction. For perhaps the first time all season, they looked distracted and a step behind.

“Right now we’re disconnected, we’re not playing the right way, we’re cheating,” Bergeron said. “This league is going to humiliate you if you do that.”

For the first five months of the season, it was the Bruins who humiliated the rest of the league, and they still hold the NHL’s best record, at 51-11-5 and 107 points, so it’s hard to blame them. a few slip-ups after 64 nearly flawless hockey games.

“They’re NHL class,” said Edmonton Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft.

Their goalkeeping duo, Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, were fundamental. Ullmark, in his second season in Boston, leads the league in goals against average (1.97), save percentage (.935) and wins, and Swayman is third in goals against (2.28).

“It starts with the goaltenders,” said AJ Mleczko, Olympic gold medalist forward for the United States and analyst for ESPN and MSG networks, who commented from the level of the ice during the recent Bruins-Oilers game. . “Every team that is going to be successful needs a combination of goalkeepers, but Ullmark, nobody expected them to be as good as they have been this season.

The Bruins fell back Thursday in Winnipeg with a 3-0 victory over the Jets thanks to a shutout from Swayman, but the rest of the league, particularly in the highly competitive Eastern Conference, are still hoping Boston has also achieves optimal performance. early on, relying heavily on players in their mid to late thirties. Their two best centers – the position that requires the most skating – are Bergeron, 37, and Krejci, 36. They and Brad Marchand, the highly talented and rambling striker, who turns 35 in May, are the only remaining players from the 2011 Championship squad.

“We’ve got a lot of guys with a ton of experience in tough situations who don’t get discouraged or change at all,” Marchand said. “I know there are a lot of young talents in the league and that’s the most important thing. But you see the winning teams, they usually have a lot of older guys.

At the start of the summer, Bergeron and Krejci were reluctant to return to Boston. Krejci had returned home to the Czech Republic to play for a season, but Bergeron called and convinced Krejci that they should reunite on the only NHL team they had played for.

“I’m really excited, and it helps when someone like that wants you,” Krejci said after practice last week. “People called it the ‘Last Dance’ or whatever. I don’t want to get caught up in that stuff. But I’m glad I came back and we have the season we have.

Still, there was widespread skepticism early in the season because McAvoy, one of the league’s top defensemen, and Marchand would miss the first few weeks after offseason surgery.

But Boston started 17-2 and, until last week, simply overwhelmed their opponents with talent, depth, experience and team cohesion. For a moment, the winning record seemed inevitable.

But those Red Wings and Lightning teams that won 62 games didn’t win the Stanley Cup, and perhaps burnout was a factor. Jim Montgomery, in his first year replacing Bruce Cassidy as coach, said he would occasionally rest Bergeron and Krejci in the remaining 15 games, so the winning record seems less likely, especially now with the Boston’s recent drop in form. But regular-season success will only be determined retroactively, by what the team does in the playoffs.

“I don’t think we were looking for the record,” Krejci said. “I don’t think we even talked about it once. I mean, our record is pretty cool, and I think we should be proud of that. But at the same time, it doesn’t really matter. »

Even just winning the half-dreaded Presidents’ Trophy — awarded to the team with the most points in the regular season — is a dicey benchmark. The last seven Presidents’ Trophy winners have lost in the first or second round of the playoffs, and it’s been 10 years since a Presidents’ Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup (Chicago in 2013). Since 2000, only four winners of the Presidents’ Trophy out of 22 have swallowed the Champagne of the Cup.

The Bruins had only faced a worse streak so far, losing four of five sandwiched around the All-Star Game. They won the next 10 games in a row, but as the streak wound down there were signs of danger. In Calgary, at the end of a road trip out West, they were exhausted and went long distances without touching the puck. But Ullmark made 54 saves and Boston beat the Flames on McAvoy’s goal in overtime on a brilliant pass from Bergeron.

“The Calgary game was probably the worst game I’ve ever played in my career,” Marchand said. “It says a lot about our character to gut it and find a way to do it. When it comes to the playoffs, there’s going to be adversity. But you have to find a way to win.

Whether the Bruins limp or rush to the playoffs is secondary. Their goal has always been to win one more Stanley Cup for their veteran leaders.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

const onetrustStorageConsent = JSON.parse(localStorage.getItem( 'consent_one_trust_bdc' ) ); /* Checking to see if the user has consented to the use of cookies. * If they have not, it is deleting the cookie. * This will comment for now, until further notice. *///if ( onetrustStorageConsent.C0002 === false ) { //document.cookie="_fbp=;expires=Thu, 01 Jan 2010 00:00:00 UTC; path=/;"; //} /* Checking if the user has given consent for the cookie C0002. * If the user has given consent, the variable consent will be set to 'grant'. * If the user has not given consent,the variable consent will be set to 'revoke'. * Documentation */if ( ( onetrustStorageConsent !== null ) && (onetrustStorageConsent.C0002 !== true ) ) { consent="revoke"; }

!function(f,b,e,v,n,t,s){if(f.fbq)return;n=f.fbq=function() {n.callMethod? n.callMethod.apply(n,arguments):n.queue.push(arguments)} ;if(!f._fbq)f._fbq=n; n.push=n;n.loaded=!0;n.version='2.0';n.queue=[];t=b.createElement(e);t.async=!0; t.src=v;s=b.getElementsByTagName(e)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window, document,'script',''); fbq('consent', consent); fbq('init', '813236348753005'); fbq('track', "PageView");


Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button