This team is [expletive] good.
Really [expletive] good.
The Bruins are clearly the best team in the East, West, North, or South this season. This was reaffirmed as Boston beat Detroit 4-2 Saturday at TD Garden to take its first-round series against the Red Wings 4-1
Boston's success flows down from the ninth floor, to coach Claude Julien, through a 6-foot-9 captain and Slovakian defenseman, to their Czech, Canadian and Swedish top scorers, its patchwork defense [Is there anything that American Kevan Miller can't hit?] and one Finnish goalie who could equal what Tim Thomas accomplished two three years ago.
It's early in these playoffs, but the Bruins forced their bodies and minds on the Red Wings as the series progressed. Boston mentally and physically exhausted Detroit. Saturday's Game 4 was perhaps the biggest hockey lock in Boston since the Bruins went to overtime against Toronto last year in Game 7.
Fatigue indeed made cowards of everyone in red.
After losing Game 1 on Good Friday [Mom was right, you should have gone to church], the Bruins bounced back quickly [not going with the "resurrected" line here] on Easter Sunday. Once Brendan Smith went "Spike and Chester" on Zdeno Chara after the second period in Game 2, the most dispassionate viewers knew this series was finished.
Chara was uncharacteristically vocal and demonstrably euphoric after he scored Boston's second goal Saturday. It came with 3.7 seconds left in the second period.
The answer would be "no [expletive] way."
"It was a big game and a big goal," Chara said. "So I'm not afraid to show it."
It's been that way for a couple of months.
All the Presidents' Cup Men came back from the Olympics with gold, silver, bronze, and a renewed vigor. "The Olympics would doom this team," the experts said. There was a "Curse of Dempstino"-sized panic after the Bruins lost their first game when the NHL resumed.
Then came March. While many across New England were gnashing teeth and then exalting with Legion of Belichick glee during NFL free agency, or listening to David Ortiz pine for another Lifetime Achievement Award, the Bruins were rampaging through their opponents. During Boston's 15-1-1 march in March, Boston beat Montreal 4-1 and lost in a shootout 2-1. That shootout loss on March 24 ended Boston's winning streak at 12.
Ah ha! The Canadiens ended Boston's winning streak in March so therefore they will win this series. How can you argue with that logic? What you see beyond that shootout loss is that Tuukka Rask allowed just two goals against Montreal in more than six periods of hockey. The Bruins' goalie remains on track to pull off the Thomas Vezina/Conn Smythe Trophy double. Rask finished the series against Detroit with a .961 save percentage. His GAA skyrocketed Saturday from 0.96 to 1.16 in the postseason.
There are many unknowns at play between Boston's upcoming series against Montreal and the Stanley Cup Finals, which will start in about 5 weeks. That's about the only disclaimer you'll get here. Boston appears unbeatable now. This is a sobering reality for me after five decades of watching this team. I am not on Jeremy Jacobs' payroll, although I will be rooting like hell for the horse his daughter-in-law named "Wicked Strong" in next Saturday's Kentucky Derby.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli and Team President Cam Neely never seem to get it right, at least on the surface. Neither wears a Hoodie, has media types writing endlessly about "they never get credit" for Boston's success, speaks in monotonic-declarative sentences, won a title playing alongside Larry Bird nor strummed the guitar in band with Peter Gammons.
Chiarelli's Harvard pedigree and Neely's Doctorate in Hard Knocks have, however, given the Bruins the best management duo in the NHL.
Then, there's Julien. Save a Hoodie for him, too. During the Olympics, Team Canada was coached by Detroit's Mike Babcock. But it was widely acknowledged and easily recognizable, especially during Canada's win over the USA, that it was Julien's style of play adopted by the Canadians. By the time Canada reached the gold medal game against Sweden, even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was coherent enough to know there was no way Team Canada would lose.
Julien's method - puck control, defense first, balanced play among the lines, building out from a strong goaltender and limiting foolishness - has cultivated brutal effectiveness and blind allegiance. Everyone has bought in. The support given to Julie at times makes Bill Belichick look like a bad Terry Francona.
My boss's, boss's, boss's boss, John W. Henry, was featured on a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story this week. It's a terrific read and a solid piece of data-driven journalism. With the story, Bloomberg ran an interactive chart demonstrating the effectiveness of spending by every major-league pro sports team in the USA and Canada.
Of the 122 NBA, NHL, MLB, and NFL franchises ranked in Bloomberg's "Smartest Spenders in Sports," the Boston Bruins ranked at No. 3 overall, one spot ahead of the New England Patriots. The Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks were first and St. Louis Cardinals were second.
So, according to Bloomberg Businessweek the Bruins Way is actually more efficient and successful than the Patriot Way, Red Sox Way and Celtics Way during the past five seasons.
Now the Montreal Canadiens are coming to town.
Bring on the
There are certain requirements to the conversation whenever the Bruins advance in the NHL playoffs. The major component in any discussion in the days leading up to a post-season series involving the Bruins this: Boston's opponent inevitably possess the secret weapon that will be the Bruins undoing.
During Boston's 2011 Stanley Cup championship run, these same Canadiens were far too skilled, the Flyers had forever vexed Boston back in 2010, the Lightning carried too much speed and the Canucks not only had home ice, but they also had the Sedin brothers and goalie Roberto Luongo.
Against the Maple Leafs in the first round in 2013, Phil Kessel, he of the Phil Kessel trade, had been labeled Boston's Trojan horse [the virus version]. Then came the Penguins. No chance. Sidney Crosby possessed far too much talent and Jarome Iginla was going to demonstrate the epic fail of Neely and Chiarelli, who failed in luring him to Boston. The New York Rangers were much deeper than Boston. Plus, their coach swore a lot on HBO and was far more dynamic than dull-old Claude.
Bruins' Doomsayers went 1-for-9 in Boston's previous three seasons playoff runs. Jackie Bradley Jr. has better numbers with runners in scoring position. Cynicism is a wonderful thing. But sometimes, it does more damage to one's judgment than any Pink Hat ever could.
Just because the Bruins wear Black and Gold, their fans, and those who opine about the team, don't always have act like Charlie Brown.
Between now and Game 1 against Montreal, eager Bostonians will subjected to in-depth analysis about how the Canadiens are able to take the Bruins off their own game, force Boston into stupid penalties and perform whatever dastardly deeds are necessary to win. Heading into the Red Wings series, many who were publicly solicited for their opinion picked the Bruins to defeat the eighth-seeded Red Wings. [I had them winning in six games.]
But far too often any affirmative thoughts about the Bruins are offered with an apology. It's as if recognizing the fact that the Bruins remain the best time in hockey is a violation of the Mandatory Hot Takes Code.
I've never been one for manufactured "Hot" Takes.
And the Bruins remain a stone-cold favorite to win it all.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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