In the 10 years since they last won the Stanley Cup, the Boston Bruins have played more playoff games than any other team except the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins, of course, have won two Stanley Cups in the last decade. The Bruins have only two losses in the final during that time.
Boston’s consistency has been remarkable. Four Bruins remain from the 2011 team that beat the Vancouver Canucks for the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in the past 39 years. But throughout the staff turnover, including training and management, the National Hockey League team kept winning.
The Bruins have missed the playoffs only twice since their Cup win and even in those seasons they were well above 90 points.
In truth, they could have had a dynasty. Instead, they haven’t advanced beyond the second round of the Stanley Cup tournament, except in 2013 and 2019, when they lost the finals to the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.
Here they are again tonight, facing another second-round elimination, on the road in New York, behind the Islanders 3-2.
It would be naive to consider tonight the end of an era if the Bruins lose. Although goalkeeper Tuukka Rask, 34, and center David Krejci, 35, are eligible for unrestricted free agency this summer, Patrice Bergeron, 35, and Brad Marchand, 33, remain among the best non-players. only from his team but from the entire league. .
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And the franchise has demonstrated the ability to replenish on the fly. Young elite players like David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy keep getting better.
But age is relentless and you never know when your last chance to win will come. Maybe it already happened.
Boston’s iconic leaders aren’t getting any younger, and reaching the playoffs won’t be any easier when the NHL emerges from the global pandemic next season.
So yeah, there may be more at stake tonight for the Bruins than just one game.
“I think the most important thing is not to overthink,” Marchand told reporters today on Zoom after the Bruins’ optional morning skating. “It’s a game and you can’t think of everything else that comes with it. It’s a game, we’ve prepared for this a million times. When we come prepared to play, we are a good team and we are going to give ourselves a chance. But then again, there are so many different factors that go into a team’s victory that you can’t control. “
Marchand may have been referencing the umpires, whose work earned $ 25,000 in criticism in Boston coach Bruce Cassidy’s last game. The only thing faster than the islanders to control is the NHL when it comes to ending dissent.
But apparently the biggest factors the Bruins can’t control are the islanders. It’s not that the best players in New York have surpassed the best Bruins, there are simply many more of them. The Islanders ‘depth has exposed the Bruins’ lineup as top heavy.
In the Brock Nelson and Jean-Gabriel Pageau exchange of centers, New York coach Barry Pese edged out Cassidy in Monday’s 5-4 victory in Boston. And Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov, who didn’t even start the series because New York depth includes the crease, has passed Rask.
“You have to stay in the moment first and foremost,” Cassidy said this morning. “You can’t get nervous or go through hypothetical scenarios. I know it sounds cliché, but you prepare to win, to play the right way, do it one turn at a time, one period of time. It restarts if something goes wrong and builds on the good stuff.
“Let’s not be thinking about a possible Game 7 or what if in the future. We’re going to take care of business in Game 6, outmaneuver the opponents and hopefully finish better than them. “
Trailing 5-2, Cassidy took Rask out in the second half of Game 5, replacing him with goalkeeper prospect Jeremy Swayman, who was beaten once on three shots. Cassidy said the measure was preventive and Rask was not fully fit.
Rask, who has started 103 NHL playoff games, is back in goal tonight. Cassidy also said winger Jake DeBrusk will return to the Boston lineup due to a lower body injury to Curtis Lazar.
“He’s ready to go; It’s that simple, ”Cassidy said of Rask. “He is our starting goalkeeper, he is healthy and ready to play, and we hope he is here tonight and we are better in front of him than in the fifth game.”
Cassidy said it’s Rask’s network, but it feels like islanders’ time.
The team has been toughened up for three straight playoff seasons under Despite and has a deep and experienced lineup of players, mostly in their prime.
“You have to stay in the moment, first of all,” Cassidy said. “You can’t get nervous or go through hypothetical scenarios. Let’s not think about a possible Game 7 or in the future. We’re going to take care of business in Game 6, outmaneuver the opponents and hopefully finish better than them. “
Marchand said: “The most important thing is that when you go through previous situations where you are in games like this, it allows you to feel comfortable every time you enter it.
“You cannot have excuses. You can’t have a bad game. And hopefully we get some rebounds. I think we are all excited by the challenge and the opportunity. We are still here, we are still fighting for our lives and there are seven games for a reason. “