The Boston Bruins finished the 2013-04 regular season as the best team in the NHL. They’re a proven Stanley Cup contender and there are many reasons why they will win their second Cup championship in a four-year span.
Here are the top five reasons why the Bruins will win the 2014 Stanley Cup:
Goaltending: The Bruins’ Tuukka Rask is a top candidate for this season’s Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender. After signing an eight-year deal worth $56 million last summer, he said he wanted to be worth every penny and backed up his words this season, finishing with a 36-15-6 record, 2.04 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage in 58 games. He also led the league with seven shutouts. After serving as the backup for Tim Thomas during Boston’s 2011 Stanley Cup run, Rask helped the Bruins reach the finals last spring before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite playing an NHL career-high 58 games this season, Rask is healthy and primed for the Stanley Cup playoffs. He doesn’t lack in confidence and will be the backbone for Boston’s Cup run again this spring.
Experience/depth: With the core group from both Stanley Cup runs in 2011 and 2013 intact, the Bruins are a mature and experienced team. Led by captain Zdeno Chara and assistant captain Patrice Bergeron, the Bruins are built as a perennial Cup contender and know what it takes to win. Boston’s combination of size, strength and talent will be difficult for any opponent to stop this spring. Plus, coach Claude Julien’s ability to roll four lines and three defensive pairs on a consistent basis creates depth that most teams can’t match.
Getting Iggy with it: When the Bruins signed free-agent forward Jarome Iginla last summer, the team figured the future Hall of Famer would be a perfect fit on the top line, along with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Well, Iginla has performed as advertised and his presence is one reason why his linemates have both enjoyed the most consistent seasons of their careers. Iginla’s work ethic, both on and off the ice, has rubbed off on the entire team. He has reached many milestones in his career, but a Stanley Cup championship has eluded him. His Bruins teammates are motivated to get him one.
Home sweet home: Since the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy for the league’s best record, they will have home-ice advantage for the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. Boston finished the regular season with a 31-7-3 record on TD Garden ice. The 31 wins on home ice are the second-most in team history. The Bruins won 33 home games during the 1970-71 season and matched that in 1973-74.
Defense equals offense: The Bruins are known as a defense-first team and when they’re at their best defensively, it equals a potent offense. Boston finished the season with six players with at least 50 points. As a team, the Bruins finished third in goals. Boston also led the league with an impressive plus-84 goal differential. The Pittsburgh Penguins entered Sunday night second with a plus-43.