Bruins gear up for the playoffs

Fans Routing for Bruins (cover pic)By Seth MacDonald

With the regular season over, the Boston Bruins – as well as 15 other teams – are preparing for playoff hockey with the same goal:

To be NHL’s 2013-14 Stanley Cup winner.

Boston finished the regular season with a 54-19-9 record. Their 54 wins and 117 points were both tops in the NHL, and their 19 regulation losses were the fewest.

Boston’s win and point total were both the most for the franchise since the 1971-72 season, when they finished with 54 and 119, respectively.

For the Bruins, this is their seventh consecutive trip to the playoffs. They will take on the Detroit Red Wings (39-28-15) at TD Garden in round one, the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, a best of seven series beginning Friday.

The Bruins went 1-3 against the Red Wings in the regular season, getting outscored 13-9 in those four contests.

During the Bruins’ dominant regular-season run, eight players finished with 15 or more goals (tied for most in the NHL with the New York Rangers) and six with 50 or more points (most in the NHL).

To put things in even more perspective, Boston had 11 players to finish the season with a +/- of 20 or higher, the most in the NHL (Anaheim was second with six). The Rangers, who had the same amount of 15 goal scorers, didn’t have a player to finish with a +/- higher than 14.

This illustrates the top notch defense the Bruins have. They had a +84 goal differential on the season which was the best in the NHL; Anaheim and St. Louis finished second with a +57 mark.

By defeating the Rangers 6-3 on March 2, Boston began a 12-game win streak in which they outscored opponents 47-17.

The Montreal Canadiens ended Boston’s run in a 2-1 shootout win at TD Garden on March 24.

Jarome Iginla scored a team-leading 11 goals during the 12-game surge, and had a trio of two-goal performances. Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg contributed five and four goals of their own, respectively; four players scored three, four had two and six found the back of the net a single time.

The Bruins’ 12 wins in a row are the most in the NHL this season. For Boston, it’s their third win streak of 10 or more games in the Claude Julien era and longest since 1971 when they won 13 straight.

The franchise record is 14 straight victories, a feat the Bruins accomplished during the 1929-30 season.

Overall since March 2, the Bruins are 17-2-4, so they are red-hot entering the playoffs.

Reasons to believe the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup:

-Their record.

-Their mental and physical toughness.

-Their depth and balance.

-The additions of Jarome Iginla, Reilly Smith and Loui Eriksson.

-Tyler Seguin not being on the team this year; let’s face it, he wasn’t a good fit in Boston.

-Tuukka Rask; he finished the season with a 36-15-5 record with a .930 save percentage (second in NHL) and 2.04 goals against average (fourth in NHL). His seven shutouts also led the way for goaltenders.

-The fact they managed to come within 80 seconds of advancing to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup last year (given all the injuries they suffered toward the end of their playoff run); that alone is nothing short of a miracle.

-They have a better overall team than last year.

-The Bruins want it badly for their fans and city of Boston.

-They won’t back down from anyone.

So it should be a very interesting playoff run for the Bruins. Arguably the best team in this year’s playoffs, Boston will look for their second cup in four years and seventh in franchise history.

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Categories: Sports

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