Building a Better Bruin


"Jun 5, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid (54) is surrounded by teammates after scoring a goal during the third period in game four of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at against the Pittsburgh Penguins TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports"

I can hear the strains of the Whitney Houston song in the turnstiles of my mind: Didn’t we almost have it all?  The Bruins nearly did have it all. They had blazed a trail through the Playoffs with some truly memorable moments. They had risen to a tie score during the 7th game with the Toronto Maple Leafs. This in the precious few minutes left in the third period. They made NHL history by scoring the winning goal in overtime breaking the 3-3 tie and moving on to the Conference Semi-Finals.

The next two series the Bruins took by a landslide defeating the Rangers 3 to 1 and then the Penguins 4 to 0. The man in the net keeping both these teams from finding any foothold was Tuukka Rask. After the touch and go series with the Maple Leafs where the Bruins rose triumphant and their dazzling victories over the Rangers and the Penguins one could dare to believe that they would be the ones to hoist the Cup. That the Bruins had the right goalie to guard their chances of making it there.

Then enter the Finals and enter the Blackhawks who had also blazed their way through the Playoffs with their only potential roadblock, the Red Wings defeated in the 7th game of the series. That series was also touch and go as they worked their way back from a 3 to 1 deficit. In the beginning of the series between Boston and Chicago it seemed like the Bruins would make their way to series victory. Then the tables were turned. Chicago took a 3 to 2 lead and then claimed victory on the Bruins own turf in the 6th and final game.

So what happened? As I recollect the past Playoffs the only reasonable answer is this: the Blackhawks figured Rask out and devised a means of play to get the goals past him. The same way Chicago had figured out the Red Wings. They proved that hockey is not only a game of speed and strength but also of thought and deliberation. In the end it was brains that won the Cup and not brawn.

So here we are at the start of a brand new season and again Rask is back in the net for Boston. With their opening night win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Bruins are showing their angst for future Cup glory. Chicago also won their opening night game showing everyone that they haven’t grown in any way complacent since their victory in June. If both teams wind up on the ice again at the Playoffs what difference between each team would achieve final victory?

I think the answer for Tuukka Rask as well as the whole Bruin team is this: Thought and adaptation. It should be considered that the Hawks are a team that thinks on the ice and off. They figure out a team’s strategies and find ways to get around them. Any team going up against them needs  to change things out  to keep them guessing. It is hard to follow a dance when the steps keep changing. Rask does extremely well in the net doing what he does but in order to defeat a team like the Blackhawks he will have to become more thoughtful and adaptive. It is not enough to score in the net against the Hawks, to ultimately win, they must be kept from sending pucks to the back of the net.

So here we are at the start of a new season and I will be rooting for the Bruins. I hope they took what lessons they gained from their defeat and are now an even better team for it. I certainly hope to see their speed and strength tempered by thought, deliberation and adaptation. If so then perhaps they will make it to the Playoffs and in the end wind up truly having it all.