Bruins' future collides with Boston's past

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Bruins' future collides with Boston's past

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

Theres something about this Bruins team that's always reminded me of the 2004 Red Sox.

And it doesn't take a degree from Education Connection to figure out why.

When the season began, the Bruins were the 2004 Red Sox. They were the already long-suffering franchise trying to bounce back from an unspeakable sports disaster and with a fan base more bruised and battered than the Wolfpack after a night out in Thailand.

The Bruins' 2010 playoff collapse was their rendition of the 2003 ALCS, the latest and greatest definition of rock bottom. And when the season started, many fans weren't ready. The disaster was all still so fresh, wounds still not yet healed. And that misery lingered (sometimes in the forefront, but always in the background) for the entire year. It made it hard for fans to let themselves believe.

With emotional guards firmly entrenched, expectations remained relatively low. And ironically enough, that's what it took for the Bruins to finally get over the hump. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Maybe it's exactly what they needed. But either way, after a season in which Bruins fans refused to let themselves believe that "this was the year," the Bruins have reached the verge of salvation. Over the course of the long season and a three hard fought rounds of playoff hockey, they've done the unthinkable.

And in the process, they actually brought back memories of the 1996 Patriots.

You remember the 96 Pats. They were a pretty good team, especially by those Patriots standards, but never one you imagined making it to the Super Bowl. In fact, if you replayed that postseason 10 times, the Patriots maybe win the AFC in three of them. Maybe.

And you could say the same for these Bruins. Dont get me wrong, they're a solid team, but even the hardest of diehards had to strain his eyes to see the Bs playing for the Cup. There were just better teams in the conference or see we thought. At the very least, more consistent and trustworthy teams. But when Tampa Bay knocked off the top-seeded Caps, much like the Jaguars did with the Broncos in 96, (and once the B's took revenge on the goalie-less Flyers) Boston was suddenly thrust into the role of Eastern Conference favorite. With home fieldice advantage and one hurdle standing between them and . . . the best team the other conference has to offer. The No. 1 seed. The one that everyone expected to be there all along. The Canucks are the Packers. The Bruins are the Patriots.

Can the Bruins win? Sure. Would you be shocked if they were simply overmatched? Nope.

It feels like we've been here before.

And now that we are here, on the day that the Bruins make their first Stanley Cup appearance in 21 years, Im thinking about the 2008 Celtics. At the time, itd been 22 years since theyd made the Finals. At the time, wed already been spoiled by the success of other Boston sports teams; there was no longer that aura surrounding a one of them playing for a title. Not to mention, by this point, a lot of fans had checked out of Celtics Nation, turned off by years of bad luck, bad decisions and overall ineptitude. For those people, the Celtics' run to Banner 17 was a lot of fun, but they werent living and dying with the Green; many were just along for the ride. But for those whod stuck out the entire drought, especially the younger fans, beating LA was the realization of a lifelong dream. Despite everything that had happened with the Pats and Sox, the 2008 NBA Finals were as good as it had ever been. And as good as it ever will be.

Bruins fans are in the same boat. They cant believe how close they are. There not even sure what to do with it. But they know that if the Bs are somehow able to steal this series from Vancouver, tears will be shed. And everything will have been worth it. Even last year.

Yeah, everyone will be rooting for the Bruins, there will be that small sect rooting so much harder, who have so much more on the line, and who deserve this far more than the rest of us. But regardless of where you stand, one thing's for sure.

Well all remember this series forever, and at some point down the line, who knows, we might even find ourselves comparing someone to the 2011 Bruins.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days

Bruins' 2017-18 schedule has three Habs games in eight days


The Bruins released their schedule for the 2017-18 season Thursday, with their campaign beginning at TD Garden on Oct. 5 against the Predators. 

Two things stand out in Boston’s schedule. Eleven of their final 15 games are on the road, and they don’t play the Canadiens until mid-January.  

Then, when the B’s and Habs do finally meet, they play three times in an eight-day span. The rivals face each other Jan. 13 in Montreal, Jan. 17 in Boston and Jan. 20 in Montreal. The Bruins’ final regular-season meeting with the Habs is March 3. 

To see the full schedule, click here. 

Morning Skate: How Haggs voted for the NHL Awards

Morning Skate: How Haggs voted for the NHL Awards

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and my ballot from last night’s NHL Awards now that the results are in. I can confirm I was not the one person to give Torey Krug a Norris Trophy vote despite what the unwashed masses in Ottawa choose to believe. Also, I did not throw a first-place vote to Brad Marchand in Hart Trophy voting. Still, I think it’s a safe bet that the same person did both.

Anyway, on to my ballot with a brief explanation for each of the votes:

Hart Trophy

1. Connor McDavid

2. Sidney Crosby

3. Brent Burns

4. Patrick Kane

5. Brad Marchand

McDavid was the obvious MVP as he helped lift the Oilers into the playoffs, and was the only guy in the NHL to hit 100 points this past season. In hindsight, I should have included Sergei Bobrovsky and omitted Patrick Kane from the list and always have a difficult time determining when a season from a goalie is or isn’t Hart-worthy. But I certainly feel good about throwing a fifth-place vote to Marchand after a phenomenal season for the B’s.

Norris Trophy:

1. Brent Burns

2. Erik Karlsson

3. Victor Hedman

4. Duncan Keith

5. Zach Werenski

Burns had such a transcendent offensive season for the Sharks and I like the fact that he can play a physical game as well as roaming around creating offense. That being said, it would have been an easy first place vote for Karlsson if the playoffs were included along with the regular season. The fifth place vote was the only one I really had to think hard and long about but felt like Werenski really played a big role in the Columbus turnaround this season.

Calder Trophy

1. Auston Matthews

2. Zach Werenski

3. Patrik Laine

4. William Nylander

5. Matt Murray

Plenty of good rookies to choose from in the voting, but it was fairly easy to choose Matthews as a dominant force for a Leafs team on the upswing. 40 goals as a 19-year-old rookie is a ridiculous amount of goals.

Lady Byng

1.  Oscar Klefbom

2.  Johnny Gaudreau

3.  Brandon Saad

4.  Marian Hossa

5.  Marcus Johansson

My votes are usually all over the map for Lady Byng, but Klefbom and Gaudreau were both solid picks as the top two. Gaudreau finished with 60 plus points and just four penalty minutes, and that’s pretty tough to do.

Selke Trophy

1. Bergeron

2. Kesler

3. Koivu

4. O’Reilly

5. Toews

All Bergeron all the way and there was a wide margin between him and second place. The fact he managed to play at a Selke level while also being hurt the entire season just adds to the toughness factor for the best two-way player I’ve covered in my time in Boston.   

On to the links...

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston has the Golden Knights ready to take their first step toward contending after building their team, and their coffers, at the expansion draft.

*We’ll see how history views this trade a year or two down the line, but the Islanders definitely got a lot better with Jordan Eberle joining John Tavares in Brooklyn next season.

*Fresh off his Norris Trophy win, bearded Brent Burns was mistaken for a swashbuckling pirate on a visit to Disney.

*Reilly Smith is on the move again, this time to the Vegas Golden Knights, and the word on the street was that Boston inquired about bringing him back if the Panthers were willing to take Jimmy Hayes back. Don’t think it was much of a conversation. I guess there really is no trade-backesies in the NHL.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has the Nashville Predators pretty busted up after losing James Neal in the expansion draft.

*For something completely different: Ron Howard is taking over directing the standalone Han Solo movie, and I’ve got to say that I don’t hate this.