It's the best time of year!
The Stanley Cup is the toughest trophy in sports to win in back-to-back years. However, the Boston Bruins will look to become the first team in 14 years to repeat (Detroit in 1997 and 1998). Will the B’s pull it off? Carolyn and Chris debate…
Yes, the Bruins will go back-to-back
By Carolyn Christians
Recognizing that repeating as Stanley Cup Champions is a lot to ask, the Boston Bruins are poised to win it all – again. The core of the team remains intact. A couple of last year’s rookies showed an ability to play on the big stage and are now a year older, stronger and smarter. Plus an unlikely off-season addition on the blue-line may jumpstart the power play. When you factor in one of the top goalie tandems in the NHL, it’s almost an embarrassment of riches.
After two post-lockout seasons in the cellar, the Bruins have been a conspicuous contender in the East since the 2008-09 season, when they were edged out of the Presidents’ Trophy by San Jose. That 116-point season (with a ridiculous +78 goal differential), was followed by a conference finish of 6th (91 points) before returning to top form last season with 103 pts (3rd), riding high on the achievements of Tim Thomas as he set new standards for goaltending. If the 36-year-old Thomas needs some relief after what he accomplished in 2010-11, then young Tuukka Rask is a dream of an alternate.
Last season was neither a fluke nor dependent on the shortcomings of others teams. Instead the collection of power, speed and skill exemplified by names of Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic and David Krecji made them one of the scariest teams to play. None of that’s changed.
Brad Marchand stole the show in the rookie category during the playoffs, but don’t count out Tyler Seguin. With a full year – and it was quite a year – behind him Seguin may be ripe to get a regular spot in the lineup.
The biggest loss will be Mark Recchi. With two Cups and a 24-year NHL career, Recchi was a voice in the room guiding the rest on how to get there. Now all two dozen on the Boston roster can say they have been there and done that, including Coach Claude Julien. They’ll be fine.
And what about Joe Corvo? The 34-year-old Chicago-native defenseman has had an up-and-down career, but no one has ever denied his conditioning or his cannon of a shot. When the B’s power play was struggling last year, GM Peter Chiarelli pulled the trigger on a deal that brought Tomas Kaberle in from Toronto. Turns out, that wasn’t the solution. Corvo is not a top-pairing guy, but he can skate fast and shoot hard and often. He just could be the catalyst to add much needed dynamic flair to the Bruins’ already steely stable of shutdown defensemen.
Compared to the team that won it all last June, the 2011-12 Boston Bruins are the same, only better. Will they repeat? I don’t see why not.
No, Boston will fall short
By Chris Tremulis
The reason the Boston Bruins will not repeat as Stanley Cup champions is the simple fact that, to repeat, there needs to be the same determination as the previous season. We have all seen the lack of it from reigning champions in previous years. It is hard after a short summer to come back with the same enthusiasm. The hangover is real, and often literal.
Now granted, this team still has many of the same faces as last years, and they will be very likely be a playoff team. But the grind of an 82 game season with a target on your back is exhausting. The last time we saw repeat champions was the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings. It takes a fairly deep roster of superstars to win back-to-back Cups. Just take a look back at those Detroit teams when you have the time.
There is also more parity in this league; there are great teams in both conferences with deep rosters that can win Cups. Going into this season there are more teams that have a legitimate chance to win a championship than in years past. Vancouver, Washington, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Jose, I could go on but you get the idea.
Tomas Kaberle, Mark Recchi and Michael Ryder are also not returning for the B’s. Those experienced players are hard to replace, particularly Recchi’s locker room presence. Tim Thomas will have to also try to have back-to-back seasons of stellar play for the B’s. At 37, after such a successful season (Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe), I find it hard to believe Thomas will be back in the same form with such a short summer.
While this team has the ability and players capable of winning another championship, it will be the lack of having anything to prove that will ultimately mean there will be a new Stanley Cup champion this year.
Photo credit: Getty Images
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