BOSTON – It doesn’t take the Carnac the Magnificent to predict the Bruins are going to win their Eastern Conference semifinal series with Philadelphia now that they’re up three games to none.
Last season’s collapse be damned. This is a new year, a new team, a new attitude. The Bruins have been selling me that line since Day One of the 2010-11 season like Century 21 sells houses. Well, I’m buying in.
In fact, I’m buying the whole neighborhood. It’s time to ante up and put it all on the line. This series with Philadelphia is surely over. But let’s go a few steps further.
The Bruins are going to win the 2011 Stanley Cup.
How can they not win it all at this point? They get matched up with their longest, most-hated rivals from Montreal in a seven-game series, which had been their Achilles heel, and come out on top despite blowing leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in the finale.
Next up was the Flyers, with all the history of last season hanging over the series. And let’s face it, the Flyers are done. The ultimate payback will come Friday night when the Bruins complete the four-game sweep.
Next up will be the Tampa Bay Lightning. They’re a multi-talented team with an excellent system, no doubt. But the Bruins have proven they can carve through that 1-3-1 forecheck like Jeff Gordon speeding through Daytona to the tune of three wins in four games in the regular season. Sure Dwayne Roloson wasn’t in the picture for the those Lightning games, but he’s not match for Tim Thomas and Boston’s four lines of fantastic firepower.
Is there any doubt that once the Bruins are in the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1990 they’ll face San Jose? After downing Montreal, avenging their loss to the Flyers and taking down Thomas’ college teammate Martin St. Louis & Co., the Bruins have to face their former captain, who seems to be actually earning a reputation as a big-game player and a defensive force.
Most will pick Joe Thornton and the Sharks, who on paper probably hold all the key edges except in goaltending. Oh wait, where have I heard that before? That’s right, before this Flyers series that has turned from an epic showdown to a lousy letdown after less than a week of action. The Bruins always thrive as underdogs. Boston’s top two D pairs and the vaunted Claude Julien defensive system will take care of San Jose’s top six and leave it up to the Bruins’ forwards to score a couple goals and ride Thomas to glory.
Let’s face it general manager Peter Chiarelli was right all along. He knew that Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder, Johnny Boychuk and others were saving all their best for the postseason. He had to know Nathan Horton would wait a few months and then morph into a savage animal that would scoff at the notion of playoff pressure and become an overtime hero twice over. Even when forced to insert Shane Hnidy for a few shifts on the back end due to injury, Boston doesn’t miss a beat. Chiarelli has created a team of survivors that we were all too foolish to see it.
When the Duck Boat parade ends at City Hall Plaza, Chiarelli’s going to light his cigar with printouts and newspaper clippings of every story that said he had assembled an average team with no shot at a title.
Captain Zdeno Chara will lead those Duck Boats on his bicycle with Andrew Ference not too far behind. Then we’ll see Nathan Horton on the “Good Ship Lollipop” with a grin so wide it’ll only disappear when he’s told he has to dance like “Big Baby” Davis at the end of the procession.
Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand will share the boat with the longest nose and dedicate it to Max Pacioretty via a fake Twitter account. Ryder’s boat won’t hit full speed until the last block of the route, while Dennis Seidenberg’s will lumber slowly over the entire path but never falter or get tired.
The theme, as conjured up by president Cam Neely and Chiarelli will be “I told you so.” They might even get someone to write lyrics and have Tyler Seguin rap those words as the chorus of a song. The “I Told You So” rap will be blared over the PA at more Boston sporting events than any Dropkick Murphys song for decades to come.
The best team on paper doesn’t always win the Stanley Cup, only the team that plays the best together over the course of eight weeks and 16 victories.
Right now, that team is the Bruins. Four overtime victories, comebacks from multiple multi-goal deficits, victories after multi-goal leads are lost, this Bruins run has had everything a magical Cup run typically has – and it’s only halfway through.
If Carnac were alive, he wouldn’t need a card with the answers to come up with the question. The answer is the 2011 Stanley Cup championship, and the answer is the Bruins. There’s no doubt.