By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @nathandrsn
With the calendar nearing February, the Bruins continue to steamroll teams around the league. As the current favorites to win the Presidents’ Trophy, the Bruins appear to be well on their way to a number-one seed in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.
That honor may not be as valuable as it sounds. Being the best team in the NHL for 82 games would naturally lead people to believe that team has the best chance to win four series and the Stanley Cup, but historically that has not been the case. Being the best regular season team has been a bit of a curse for teams over the past two decades, with only two teams winning the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup since 2002/2003.
In both cases, since 2003, it was a Western Conference team that won both trophies. The Blackhawks did so in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, and the last team to break the curse in an entire 82-game season was the Detroit Red Wings in 2008.
The last time an Eastern Conference team won the regular season and postseason championships was in 1994, when the Mark Messier-led Rangers accomplished the feat. Unfortunately, just because a team plays well from October to April does not mean they will succeed in May and June. However, this is just one curse the Bruins may have working against them if they keep up their current pace.
In addition to no Presidents’ Trophy winner, since the 2013 Blackhawks winning the Cup, no team has ever won the Winter Classic and the Stanley Cup in the same season. Since 2008, when the Penguins beat the Sabres at Ralph Wilson Stadium, several teams have gotten close to pulling it off, but no team has finished the job.
The Penguins (2008), Red Wings (2009), Bruins (2019), and Stars (2020) have each won the Winter Classic game and then lost in the Stanley Cup Final later that season. Of those four, the Bruins and Red Wings lost game seven in that year’s final, coming just 60 minutes away from winning both accolades. The Chicago Blackhawks are the only team to win the Stanley Cup in the same season they played in a Winter Classic, losing the 2015 outdoor game and defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Cup Final that June.
With their 2-1 win over the Penguins thanks to goals by Jake DeBrusk and an excellent performance in net by Linus Ullmark, the Bruins have a chance to win the Winter Classic, Presidents’ Trophy, and the Stanley Cup all in one season. Suppose they are able to see that through; it would be one of the most dominant seasons in NHL history. So, the question for Bruins fans is, would you rather lose some steam before the playoffs and go on a deep run? Or would you like to see this team try to run through the league from start to finish?
Of course, most fans would like to see the Bruins win out in the regular season and then sweep four teams in a row in the playoffs. As I’ve hopefully demonstrated in this article, though, that is equivalent to a miracle in the modern NHL. The last Presidents’ Trophy-winning team to make it out of the second round in their conference was the New York Rangers in 2015 when they lost in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Maybe this Bruins team has what it takes to reverse the trend that has been set for 20 years. We are far from the end of the journey, though, and there will still be twists and turns that have yet to occur. Will we see the Bruins make a move at the deadline? Will another team make a move that changes the path this season is headed on? Only time will tell, but based on what time has told us previously, the Bruins have a lot working against them in their hopes of being the 2023 Stanley Cup Champions.
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