By: Andrew Lindroth | Follow me on Twitter @andrewlindrothh
The 2019-2020 season will go down in the history books as one of the most unfortunate things to happen to a hockey season. The Bruins were sitting at first in the league and were only a dozen games away from the regular season concluding, and the playoffs starting. Everything was halted back in mid-March, and players are just now skating for the first time since. But now, the Bruins have the opportunity to finish what they started with the next phase of the Return-To-Play Plan now underway.
With the current season in the state it is in, there is no doubt there will be an “aestrik” associated with whoever wins the Stanley Cup this year, but for the Bruins, there are too many reasons why they need to finish the job and win the Stanley Cup.https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
One of the apparent reasons is redemption for last year’s disappointing finish in the Stanley Cup Finals. Since that moment, the Bruins could either use that as motivation or tear down their morale, and the answer is evident with the Bruins sitting first in the league before the season was postponed. With the roster almost identical to last season’s, there is no doubt the Bruins can make another deep playoff run, and this time claiming the Stanley Cup.
New additions like Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Jeremy Lauzon, and Anders Bjork could help the Bruins in many ways, just like 2019 trade deadline acquisitions Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson stepped up significantly in last year’s playoffs. One of the Bruins’ most significant success factors was their player depth and their “next man up” mentality. The Black Aces for the Bruins this season will be one of the most reliable units they have had in years with emerging players like Jack Studnicka, Trent Fredric, Jakub Zboril, Dan Vladar, and the list goes on.
Between Providence’s highly talented players and the Bruins new acquisitions, they have addressed their team’s needs following the Stanley Cup Finals loss to the St.Louis Blues, and I believe they have a better chance than they did last year.
Bruins fans know it’s coming, and it’s a harsh reality to face. Bostons’ core players such as; David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara, and Tuukka Rask are on borrowed time with the team due to age and contracts expiring. Being part of the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship roster, they have the veteran experience and what it takes to guide the Bruins for a deep playoff run.
These core players have been the foundation of how this team has been built over the past decade. It is also important to note that players like Torey Krug and Jake DeBrusk could play in their final playoff run with the Bruins if they end up not agreeing to terms during the offseason. With many unknowns and ‘what-ifs’ for the Bruins, it’s entirely possible the roster may change up quite a bit over the next year or two.
As much as this playoff run may not seem worth it for several reasons, if the NHL does continue to move forward with the games as planned, there is no doubt the Bruins need to use their core players to their advantage as much as possible. There is nothing more those players want than one more Stanley Cup victory with the Boston Bruins.
The Stanley Cup
The last time I checked, this is the Stanley Cup playoffs and not a COVID-19 tournament; therefore, all players will be playing each game with pride to reach the ultimate goal, capturing the Cup. I fully expect a highly competitive environment, even with no fans in the stadium, and it will start with teams setting the tone in their play-in/exhibition games.
Let’s also keep in mind the living environment for the players being in “the bubble.” Separate hotel rooms, restrictions for going out in public, not being able to see your family for most of the playoff run, etc. For the players, the cycle will be; eat, hockey, sleep, repeat until they claim the ultimate championship sports have to offer. I’m sure it’ll be a similar feeling for fans, especially after being deprived of the last dozen games of the regular season and an exciting playoffs.
Many will argue that winning the Stanley Cup this year will mean nothing because it will be tagged with an “aestrik” because of the unfortunate circumstances. To be fair, I don’t remember this attitude when playing in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 after the play lock-out cut the NHL regular season in half. And I don’t know of any fan who will find themselves complaining if the Bruins were to win it all this year.
If anything, reaching the Stanley Cup will be harder than ever given strict circumstances throughout the process and 24 teams now being in the playoff picture. It will be no cakewalk, but the Bruins were first place in the league by eight points before the season was canceled. It is the Bruins’ year for the Stanley Cup.
July 30th is when the magic will begin to unfold, with the Bruins squaring off in an exhibition game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Following that will begin play-in series and round-robin games with the Bruins playing the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bruins need their fans more than ever now to cheer them on from home in hopes of a second Stanley Cup victory in nine years.
We've got some times. ⏰— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 14, 2020
𝐯𝐬. 𝐂𝐁𝐉 | July 30 – 7 p.m. ET
𝐯𝐬. 𝐏𝐇𝐈 | Aug. 2 – 3 p.m. ET
𝐯𝐬. 𝐓𝐁𝐋 | Aug. 5 – 4 p.m. ET
𝐯𝐬. 𝐖𝐒𝐇 | Aug. 8 – TBD pic.twitter.com/pYBUbGAGel