By: Ryan Duffy | Follow Me On Twitter @Rduffy26
On Thursday, March 30th, the Boston Bruins clinched the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s best regular season team and secured home ice for the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boston astonishingly captured the trophy just two weeks before the conclusion of the regular season. The Bruins continue to write history, achieving a new club record with 60 wins (60-12-5) on the season and having a chance to surpass the 1996 Detroit Red Wings (62-13-7) and 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning (62-16-4) for the most regular season wins.
“Obviously, to have won the Presidents’ Trophy, like I said to the players, be proud of what we achieved,” said coach Jim Montgomery following Boston’s OT victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday, per NHL.com reporter Eric Russo. “I guess it exemplifies how good of a team we’ve been, and that’s a feather in everyone’s hat throughout the organization, including scouts, pro scouts, the job they’ve done for us, the amateur scouts throughout the years and, obviously, upper management.”
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy, Patrice Bergeron also shared his thoughts with the media. “Of course, you’re proud,” said the Bruins captain. “It was a lot of games. A lot of hard work. I’m proud of the way we’ve done it by sticking to our process and growing as a team and learning, and really playing for each other. That being said, it’s nice, but obviously, you have your eyes set on something bigger. We know there’s a lot of work in front of us.”
As Bergeron mentioned, the Bruins players know the job isn’t done. After an 82-game regular season, it takes 16 high-intensity and hard-fought wins in the playoffs to reach the Stanley Cup. Injuries are bound to happen through four rounds of seven-game series, given the physicality and brutality of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
As most NHL fans know, having the best record in the regular season doesn’t always translate to having a deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The trophy has been handed out annually since the 1985-86 season, and only eight teams have won the Presidents’ Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same year, including just two teams since the 2004-05 lockout. The latest team being the 2012-13 Chicago Blackhawks, who ironically beat the Boston Bruins in the finals.
The Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 are a classic story of how a historic regular season means nothing until game one of the first round. Tampa Bay reached 62 wins that year, which tied the record for the most wins in one regular season. The Lightning failed to continue their regular season dominance into the playoffs, and they were unexpectedly swept in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Fortunately for Tampa Bay, they would follow up their catastrophic collapse in 2019 by going on to win back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2020 and 2021.
Despite the team’s tremendous season, the 2019 Lightning crumpled when they faced adversity. Unlike Tampa Bay, Boston has faced adversity throughout this season with injuries to key players and dips in performance, but have still been able to pull out wins through it all. The Bruins were without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy for the first quarter of the season. They now have been without Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno since February and, most recently, Derek Forbort since mid-March due to lower body injuries. Despite these critical losses, the team has yet to falter with the injuries to their lineup.
Their powerplay has been uncharacteristically dysfunctional of late as well, with the team capitalizing on 18.5% of their power plays over their last 15 games, which ranks 21st in the league. Because of the lack of consistency in Boston’s powerplay, Jim Montgomery and the Bruins coaching staff elected to change up the top power play unit. Since the adjustments, the Bruins’ offensive zone entries and puck movement on the man advantage have been much better, with four powerplay goals in their last three games.
Ultimately, the Bruins’ perseverance will be tested once again when the Stanley Cup Playoffs start on April 17th. No matter who Boston plays in the first round, there is no guarantee that they will move on to the second round. The Boston Bruins have had a groundbreaking regular season, but the only history that matters to the players is having their names engraved on the world’s most coveted trophy.