Blog Entry

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

Posted on: October 6, 2011 12:55 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 1:38 pm

By: Adam Gretz

Recent history suggests it's a terrible, pointless idea to pick the defending Stanley Cup champions to repeat. It hasn't been done since 1997-98 when the Detroit Red Wings swept the Washington Capitals, and only three times since then has a defending champion even managed to return to the finals (the Dallas Stars in 2000, the New Jersey Devils in 2001 and the Red Wings in 2009).

Winning the cup one time is hard enough. But to come back following a shortened offseason, after going through a grueling 82-game regular season and four best-of-seven playoff series just to do it all over again has to take a tremendous toll on the body.

Despite all of that, I'm still picking the Bruins to repeat anyway.

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They have a great 1-2 punch in net, balanced scoring depth through all four lines and one of the best defenseman in the NHL. What's not to like about their chances to repeat?

Three reasons to like the Bruins:

1) Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask: You can probably count on one hand -- and have fingers remaining -- the number of goalies in the league that are capable of carrying a team all the way to the Stanley Cup, and Boston has one of them in Tim Thomas. A former ninth-round pick that had to bounce around the minor leagues and Europe before finally getting his shot in the NHL, Thomas has become the best goaltender in the league and won two of the past three Vezina Trophies, leading the league in save percentage each year, and is one of the few true game-changers at his position. His margin of victory in the save percentage race last season (.008 points) was the largest in the NHL in over 12 years.

If Thomas isn't enough, his backup, Tuukka Rask, has proven that he's capable of being a No. 1 goaltender as well, and sandwiched between Thomas' two Vezina seasons he ended up getting the starting job in Boston and had the best save percentage in the NHL himself. That, of course, means the Bruins have had the goaltender with the top save percentage in the league three years running. There's not many teams that can say that.

2) Depth down the middle: Unfortunately, Marc Savard's career appears to be in jeopardy due to his ongoing concussion problems, but even without him the Bruins boast impressive depth down the middle with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci leading the way. They may not put up huge numbers offensively, but they're excellent two-way players that can control the puck and shut down whoever is on the ice against them.

Bergeron finished fourth in Selke Trophy voting last season and is my pick to win it this year.

The Bruins may not have had a single player finish higher than 40th in the NHL scoring race last year, but they still managed to finish fifth as a team in goals scored due to their depth, and even with the losses of Michael Ryder and Mark Recchi this offseason, they're still able to go four lines deep.

3) Zdeno Chara: Of course, any time you have one of the best defenseman in the NHL it's always a boost to your chances, and Chara has become a regular in the yearly discussion for the Norris Trophy thanks to his ability to match up with the other teams top line and also provide offense from the blue line with his booming slap shot. Along with Chara, Dennis Seidenberg is an underrated player on the blue line that is a fearless shot-blocker and can also provide some offense. There's not a ton of depth on the blue line after that, but Chara and Seidenberg are a pair of workhorses that can carry the load, and when you combine their goaltending with the relentless defensive play of their forwards they should able to overcome whatever shortcomings their bottom two defensive pairings might have.

Photo: Getty Images

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 15, 2011 4:46 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Oct 2, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 8:37 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

You saved me a lot of writing hitting the nail on the head like that.  Bruins are a very good team but there are several in the NHL.  They will be in the post season but a repeat isnt happening. 

Since: Nov 6, 2009
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:24 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

No knock on the Bruins, but the late 1990s Red Wings, early 1990s Penguins and the Oilers and Islanders of the 1980s were all teams for the ages with multiple Hall of Famers on each roster.  The Bruins are the champs and didn't lose much in the offseason, but I can't put them in the same class as those dynasty-type teams.   You have to be a really, really great team to recover from the long Cup-winnning season with a short offseason and then be hungry enough to do it all over again the next year, especially for the kind of team like these Bruins, who won this Cup more on will and relentlessness than on pure talent.

Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: October 6, 2011 5:15 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

When I saw "Gretz," I thought Wayne Gretzky was predicting a repeat.  Less interesting coming from this Adam Gretz fellow.

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:43 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

No disrespect to the Bruins, but its almost impossible for this to happen regardless of how good a team is.

So many things need to go right and it usually starts with health. That includes the health of other teams you face along the way.

I think the Bruins are dangerous and capable, but from the standpoint of what the odds are, I'd say thats tough.

I put the Bruins in the top 3 in the East, likely to be a 1 seed overall, so I guess I would say they still have to be classified as a favorite.

Since: Oct 20, 2008
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:43 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

Boston's been a team designed to win a championship for a few years now.  Through smart front office management and good, young talent being developed primarily from within, they've established themselves as an extremely balanced, high quality team.  When Marc Savard got shut down and began his march towards retirement, some people saw it as proof that the Bruins now couldn't win.  What they failed to recognize was that Boston has about 5-6 guys at least as good as Savard.

Boston's as good a guess as any for who will win it all.

Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 4:21 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

i dont know. Its so hard to win cups back to back because of how the playoffs are structured and the way the sport is in general. You can run into a hot goalie in the playoffs and that is the ultimate equalizer. Also thomas is another year older and he WAS that hot goalie last year. They also won 3 game 7's to do it.  They have horses to win it but there is a reason no one has repeated in over a decade. 

Since: Aug 29, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:57 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

Of course I think this team is capable of it, except the B-Hawks who lost basically half of their team, there have been many teams that could have. The Red Wings, the Penguins, and Tampa Bay could have repeated. They were better than this Boston team, even the older NJD could have. They didnt. I dont think Boston will this year either. It is damn near impossible to repeat yet alone win it. Odds are against them, they certainly have a good team and will compete near the end again for it, but like the odds, probably not.

Since: Dec 1, 2006
Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:15 pm

Boston will be first team to repeat in 14 years

Like it...

One could also mention the Bruins speed, and the team was building for a legitimate run THIS year, and last year was all bonus that no one expected.  

The Bruins system will quietly plug along and churn out a 90+ point season, and then chug along some long series with other teams in the playoffs.. their depth is really the key. 

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