The Boston Bruins had the greatest regular season in NHL history, finishing with a record 65 wins, which surpassed the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning, each finishing with 62. They also finished the season with 135 points, surpassing the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens’ 132 for the most in a single season.
That’s how dominant the Bruins have been this year. They even won their fourth Presidents’ Trophy — but for the previous three times they did, they also failed to win the Stanley Cup.
It’s been ten years since the last Presidents’ Trophy winner won the Stanley Cup. The best team in the regular season has only won the Cup eight times. The Trophy has become a curse, with eight of the last nine winners not even making it past the second round.
However, there’s something different about the 2022-23 Bruins. They haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 2011, having lost the Finals twice in 2013 and 2019. Curses are supposed to break at some point, but can the Bruins be the one to break the ten-year drought? Here’s why they could win the Cup this year, and why they might not:
Why they could win the Stanley Cup
The Bruins have two of the best goaltenders in the NHL. Linus Ullmark will be this year’s Vezina Trophy winner, which is awarded to the best goaltender, becoming the first Bruin to win it since Tuukka Rask in 2013-14. However, Ullmark needs to be like two-time winner Tim Thomas, who took home both the Vezina Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season with the Bruins. He and Jeremy Swayman combined for a team save percentage of .931 and 2.12 goals against per game. Ullmark leads the NHL in wins, goals-against average, and save percentage with 40, 1.89, and .938 respectively. The duo won the William M. Jennings Trophy, given to the goaltenders who play at least 25 games for the team allowing the fewest goals during the regular season.
The Bruins’ penalty kill is the best in the league, with 247 kills, which makes up 86.4% of their penalties. Over 90% of their last 45 penalties have been killed. This exceptional penalty kill would be one of the reasons the Bruins win the Stanley Cup.
If Connor McDavid didn’t exist, it would be Pastrňák winning the Hart Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the most valuable player in the NHL. He has 61 goals this year, which is second in the league and the second Bruin to score at least 60 goals in a season, the first being legend Phil Esposito. He scored a goal on Monday night to open the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Panthers. If the Bruins win the Stanley Cup, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pasta wins the Conn Smythe Trophy, which is the Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP.
Why they might not win the Stanley Cup
The Bruins have an inconsistent power play, ranked 12th in the NHL with a percentage of 22.2%, scoring 62 times. On Monday night, Pastrňák scored a power-play goal in the first period against one of the worst penalty-killing units in the league. The Bruins need to take advantage of the opportunities when there is a man advantage.
The path to the Stanley Cup
As ESPN sportscaster Sean McDonough said on Monday night, the Eastern Conference is “pick your poison,” with all eight teams able to survive and advance. The toughest challenges for Boston in the Eastern Conference are the Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs. There’s a lot of talent in the Eastern Conference: Matthew Tkachuk of the Panthers, Auston Matthews of the Maple Leafs and Jack Hughes of the Devils, to name a few. There is strong goaltending in the conference, as well: Antti Raanta of the Hurricanes, Ilya Sorokin of the Islanders and Igor Shesterkin of the Rangers are among the best in the NHL.
Even if the Bruins make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Avalanche, the defending Stanley Cup champions, are arguably the best team in the Western Conference, with Nathan MacKinnon and goalie Alexandar Georgiev leading the way. The Edmonton Oilers have their best team in the Connor McDavid era. Along with the future Hall of Famer, Leon Draisatl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins make the Oilers one of the best teams offensively, each scoring at least 100 points. There are a lot of opportunities for the Western Conference champion to win it all.
The Bruins aren’t a very young team. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejčí are two long-tenured centers that are 37 and 36 years old, respectively. Nick Foligno and Brad Marchand are in their mid-30s. Bergeron is in his 18th year, Foligno and Krejčí in their 15th, and Marchand in his 13th. If their opponents go the distance, the Bruins could be worn out simply because they’re an older team.