5 on 1: The Top 5 Reasons the Boston Bruins Won the Eastern Conference

While the Boston Bruins may not have dominated the Eastern Conference during the regular season with their 28-14-6 record, they certainly played a solid season. However, the playoffs have been a much different story for the Bruins. In this article, we will take a look at the Top 5 Reasons the Boston Bruins won the Eastern Conference and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals.

5. Excellent Coaching Decisions

Claude Julien is in his fourth season behind the bench for the Bruins. In his time with the organization, he has led the Bruins to a 133-78-35 with a .612 win percentage.

Mar 30, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien talks to defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) and left wing Milan Lucic (17) against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at the Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers defeated the Bruins, 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

In 2011, Julien led his Bruins all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals where they ultimately defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-0 in Game 7. This was Boston’s first Stanley Cup since 1972 when the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers.

Say what you will about Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien, but it was his quick decisions during the Conference Finals that turned the Bruins into the dominating force that swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games.

Julien was able to manipulate his defensive lines in such an elegant manner that he exposed the weaknesses in the the Pittsburgh Penguins star forwards rendering them utterly irrelevant in the series. (Here’s looking at you, Crosby.)

4. Spot On Penalty Kill

The Bruins penalty kill shined brightly during the Conference Finals against the Penguins. In the post season, against both the New York Islanders and the Ottawa Senators, the Pens were able to net themselves 13 goals on the Power Play; however, against the Bruins, those same Pens went 0 for 15 on the Power Play.

Jun 5, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins center Chris Kelly (23), Pittsburgh Penguins center Brandon Sutter (16) and defenseman Paul Martin (7) battle for the puck during the second period in game four of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

How do you accomplish such a feat? Simple. You depend on your penalty killers do maintain possession of the puck as much as possible. If the opposition can’t handle the puck, then they have no opportunity to get said puck into the net.

Another necessity is to close the door on opportunities as they arise. When your opponent gets possession of the puck and goes barreling down the lane heading for the net, you have to get at them from all sides and close that gap, forcing them to stop and risk losing possession of the puck, thus starting process all over again.

These are things that the Bruins have been highly skilled at during their post season play.

Let’s be real here for a minute, though. The best penalty killer in the world is your goalie. But we will get to that a little bit later.

3. Time to Prepare

There are cases where having too much time off can be detrimental to an organization. If you spend too much time twiddling your thumbs and eating donuts, then you would most certainly be correct.

June 5, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg (44) skates past the forecheck of Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) during the first period in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

On the flip side, anyone who says that a well-used time off was a curse obviously has never faced the possibility of a star players being benched in the post season due to injury.

Because the Bruins were able to rid themselves of the New York Rangers in 5 games during the Conference Semifinal, they were able to get two of their star players back in enough time to face the Penguins.

Had they not had this time, there is a very real possibility that they would have had to face Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang without the talents of defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Andrew Ference. Both defensemen went down earlier in the post season with lower body injuries.

Having solid defensemen like Seidenberg and Ference in the line-up gave Coach Julien the flexibility he needed to play with his defensive lines enough to become the shutdown kings, and eliminate the Pens.

Who said a little time off was a bad thing?

2. Deep Scoring Talent

Much like the Chicago Blackhawks, the Boston Bruins have 6 players with 10 points or more in the post season.

At the top of that list is center David Krejci. Krejci has 9 goals and 12 assists throughout the post season with a plus-14 rating. Not far behind him is Nathan Horton, who has 7 goals and 10 assists for 17 points. Horton also has a plus-21 rating, the highest on the team.

June 5, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Boston Bruins player David Krejci (middle) is congratulated by teammates including defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) and Nathan Horton (18) after scoring a goal during the first period in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Next we have Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic, both with 13 points. Marchand has 4 goals and 9 assists, while Lucic has 3 goals and 10 assists. Marchand has a plus-7 rating, while Lucic is sitting pretty with a plus-13.

Rounding out the top 6 is defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron. Both Chara and Bergeron have a total of 11 points each; Chara with 2 goals and 9 assists, Bergeron with 5 goals and 6 assists.

With scoring power like this, it is no wonder that the Boston Bruins were able to shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Quick fact: Patrice Bergeron, Number 6 in regards to points for the Bruins during the post season, has more points in the series against Pittsburgh than Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, Jarome Iginla, Pascal Dupuis, and Paul Martin (Pittsburgh’s Top 6 scorers during the post season) COMBINED. If that doesn’t say something, then I don’t know what does.

1. A Beastly Goaltender in Net

If there was ever a candidate for the Vezina Trophy this year, it should have been Tuukka Rask.

Jun 7, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask (40) plays a puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period in game four of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports

Rask has been an absolute beast in the net for the Boston Bruins. He has stopped 134 of 136 shots against him in the series against Pittsburgh. The majority of which were taken in Game 3 where he saw an amazing 54 shots, only allowing 1 goal.

Currently, Rask sits in first place in the NHL in regards to Save Percentage during the post season with .943. Closely behind him is Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford with .935. In regards to Goals Allowed Average, Rask is in second place in the league with 1.75, topped only by the Blackhawks’ Crawford.

During the course of the series against Pittsburgh, the Savonlinna, Finland native was able to maintain a Save Percentage of .986 and a Goals Allowed Average of .408. Those are some of the most insane numbers I have ever seen.

It is talent like his, with his quick decision making, and his split second saves that leave even the most skilled point scorer with his hands in the air wondering what exactly he has to do to get a point on the board.

 

No matter how much one may want to deny the inevitable, the Boston Bruins have more than cemented their place in the race for the Cup this year. Their 28-14-6 record allowed them entry into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it was straight to the top from there.

With their top notch goaltending, and the ferocity of the penalty kill, the Bruins have more than earned their right to compete for the chance to hold Lord Stanley’s Cup up high.

Now, there is just one thing standing in their way; the Chicago Blackhawks.

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals starts on Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. at the United Center in Chicago. The complete broadcasting schedule, including dates and times, for the Stanley Cup Finals can be found here.

Do you think Tuukka Rask and the Bruins have what it takes so send the Hawks back to Chicago empty handed, or do you think the Hawks are going to test the limits of the Bruins defense and bring the cup back to Chicago? There so many questions in need of answers in this Original Six matchup. So what are you waiting for? Sound off in the comments below and let us know what you think!

 

Bolts By The Bay will continue to provide you with all the latest news and updates on the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs this season. Check back often for Previews, Commentary, and Game Reviews throughout this final round. In just over 2 weeks, one team will hold Lord Stanley’s Cup up high, and we’ll be there is with you every step of the way.

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Topics: 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Boston Bruins

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