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Why Boston Bruins are 2019 Stanley Cup favorites

For the third time in the past eight seasons the Boston Bruins are once again a finalist in the Eastern Conference. They are gunning for their third Stanley Cup Final appearance since 2011.

The big picture: The Bruins have been buzzing in these playoffs. They have balanced scoring attack as well as a deep blue line. In their last four games, the Bruins have outscored their opponents 16-5.

Shades of a former team:  With this team playing at a high level in all facets of the game, it has become the favorite out of the East. This success is similar to the 2011 Stanley Cup team, which is a good sign for Boston.

Here’s how they compare:

  • Great goaltending: Tuukka Rask has been beast in net for the Bruins. His 2.02 goals against average and a .937 save percentage are some of the best in these playoffs. Back in 2011, starting goalie Tim Thomas had similar stats to Rask, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage.
  • Energetic fourth line: Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, and Chris Wagner are not your typical skilled hockey players. They are have never been labeled as goal scorers, but they bring the energy on every shift. This line is similar to the Shawn Thornton, Daniel Paille, and Gregory Campbell line on the 2011 team. These guys brought the physicality and energy to that team as well.
  • Trade deadline acquisitions: At the deadline, The Bruins picked up Charlie Coyle and Marcus Johansson. Coyle has 6 goals these playoffs, which is tied for the most on the team, while veteran Johansson has been a great facilitator for the B’s. In 2011, the Bruins acquired veterans Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly, anchored that third line and brought toughness as well as great forward depth.
  • Similar faces: There are five players from the 2011 Boston Bruins still playing for the team in 2019: Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All five of those guys have big roles on the team. At age 41, Chara is still a top 2 defender. Rask is the starting goaltender. Marchand, Bergeron, and Krejci are slotted in the loaded top 6 of Bruins forwards.

How to continue their success: The Bruins have done so well in the playoffs that they are the favorite to lift the Stanley Cup.

This is what they need to do to sustain their run:

  • Aggressiveness: They need to be aggressive in their offensive zone. When they forecheck hard, the Bruins are really good at capitalizing on turnovers in the opponent’s zone.
  • Power play: Keep dominating on the power play. In these two games against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Bruins have scored four power play goals.
  • Goaltending: Tuukka Rask needs to continue his outstanding playoffs. He is one of the main reason that they advanced to the Conference Finals and he has continued to be one of the best postseason goaltenders in the 2019 postseason.
  • Their best line: The first line needs to be productive on the offensive end. When Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak each earn at least a point, the Bruins win.

Biggest liabilities: As good as the Bruins have been in the 2019 postseason, their are still some weaknesses that hamper this team. Here are two that stand out.

  • Second periods: The Bruins have struggled in the second period in the playoffs. They have a plus one goal differential, which sounds good, but they are a plus 10 in the first and third periods combined.
  • Bergeron’s penalties: Patrice Bergeron needs to be more disciplined. The alternate captain has accumulated 14 penalty minutes, the most on the team. If this continues, it could cost the Bruins in some of these future games.
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