This post was originally published at The Hockey Writers
As Cup Champions at last, the Boston Bruins are on top of the world. They emphatically deserve the title of victors, the best team in the land, but arguably not the most talented. The B’s were overstated as underdogs in skill by many who cover the game, but they played with the hearts of lions and were rewarded with Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Considered by many to be a team whose talent level was underwhelming at the best, and certainly not the equal of the Western Conference Champion Canucks, the Bruins raised the Cup Wednesday night in Vancouver. With no players in the top-35 regular season scorers, and team speed that could best be described as “mediocre”, experts around the league found it hard to believe that this squad could compete at the highest levels.
In recent years, Stanley Cup Champions had pinnacle skill guys like Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane with Chicago in ’10; Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin with Pittsburgh in ’09, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Nicklas Lidstrom with Detroit in ’08. In fact, no team has won the Cup since the lockout (till the Bruins) with fewer than two top-35 scorers.
Each Cup-winner since the lockout has had a player in the top-ten in league scoring, save for Anaheim in ’07, which had Teemu Selanne sitting just outside at 11th. The Bruins top scorers were Milan Lucic and David Krejci, whose 62 points each were good for a tie for 39th in the NHL. The B’s did have several sterling postseason performances, including Krejci’s playoff-leading 12 goals and 23 points.
One can understand the reticence of many to label the B’s as prime Cup contenders. Their perceived talent gap when facing three of the top seven offenses (Philly, Tampa and Vancouver) is well documented. However, the pundits and experts failed to account for the magnificent heart and indomitable drive of the Bruins.
It takes considerable effort and will to come back from 2-0 deficits in two challenging series, to face elimination in three game sevens and win them all, to overcome the losses of Patrice Bergeron and Nathan Horton, and to silence the myriad critics and skeptics throughout the season.....
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