Dealing with the Bruins
Boston has been one of the best and most consistent teams in the NHL for well over a decade. How the heck do they still keep it going?
It feels like for the better part of the past few years we’ve collectively been waiting for the Boston Bruins to take a turn for the worse and begin their inevitable fall back to the pack in the NHL.
When you comb over their history of whether they’ve made the playoffs or not, they’re a franchise that doesn’t go on extended droughts. After a year or two of being out of the postseason, they come back and seem to stay there for years to come as a perpetual threat to win the Stanley Cup.
The Bruins’ last playoff hiatus lasted two years under Claude Julien in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 and a mediocre first half the following season led to Julien’s dismissal and Bruce Cassidy’s return to the coaching ranks and, not coincidentally, the build-up for the Bruins most recent Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2019.
It took a first-round loss in 2022 to get Cassidy removed as coach and replaced by Jim Montgomery who promptly led Boston to the Presidents’ Trophy before a sudden first-round playoff eviction at the hands of the Florida Panthers. That loss wound up being the final appearances in black and gold from captain and universally revered star center Patrice Bergeron as well as No. 2 pivot David Krejci.
Surely this would be the start of the Bruins downfall, right? Of course not.
The Bruins are again among the ranks of the best teams in the NHL although they arrived in Buffalo after Christmas riding a four-game losing streak going 0-2-2 during the stretch. For most teams, a losing streak of that magnitude would lead to numerous questions and bubbling crises across the roster. Instead, riding a skid like this into a league-wide break offered the opportunity for the league’s most mature and professionally operated dressing rooms to reflect and get to the heart of the matter before things get the chance to bubble over.
“What allows (a break) is Santa Claus allows it,” Montgomery said Wednesday morning. “It’s magical when your kids still believe in Santa Claus and you see their eyes in the morning, so that was awesome and that allows you to get away from it. I personally got away from it the 24th and 25th. The night of the 25th, my brain started going that way and yesterday I jumped on the phone. I talked to players, I talked to coaches, obviously I talk to (Bruins GM Don Sweeney) every day and then talk to some people outside of our team just to get a feel, like different people in the league who have gone through coaches and why they’ve done well and what the messaging has been. Obviously, I don’t hope that happens here, we want to avoid that, so what’s the messaging, what makes it go again, whether you’re in Minnesota or St. Louis or whatever the case.”