Thursday night, the Bruins took down the Chicago Blackhawks, who I recently stated was the best team in the Western Conference. I still believe that, but the fact that the Bruins took them down in Boston and clearly played better is a sign that they’re the best team in the entire NHL. Of course, one game doesn’t mean much, but it did symbolize what they B’s can do against an elite team when they’re at the top of their game.
In close situations (within a goal in the first 2 periods and tied in the third, which obviously meant none of the final period in this game), the B’s out-fenwicked the Blackhawks 21-19, and they out-corsied the Hawks 27-23. Then, we’ll take into account the traditional stats, like, you know, goals. They won 3-0 behind 2 quick ones in the last period, and that put the game away.
Everyone did his job, and Bergeron was the best two-way forward on the ice — better than Jonathan Toews — with his 2 goals. Chara was Chara and Claude played him for only 21:32, or 3:15 below his season average… nicely done, Claude. And Tuukka Rask showed why he’s the best goalie in the world. There’s not much of a debate, frankly, at this point. People can make nice cases for Price, Lundqvist, and maybe Quick, but the real answer is Tuukka.
The B’s now have 16 guys with at least 16 points, which is more easy to remember than it is significant, but they also have 9 guys with at least 35. And Eriksson only has 29 because of his injuries, causing him to miss 21 games. They’re depth is ridiculous, and their top guns are just as ridiculous. Here are the guys/units who are at least “arguably” the best at what they do in the league: Bergeron as a two-way player and defensive forward, Chara as a defenseman, Tuukka as a goalie (again, not that arguable IMO), the best 2nd line, best 3rd line. And both the 1st and 4th lines can easily be the best at what they do for a series or two in the playoffs, like the Merlot Line did in the Rangers series.
Expecting the Bruins to make the Finals this year is not too lofty, not when they’re that much better than every Eastern Conference team. And wins like this over one of the West’s Best should all make us realize how lucky we are to have the Cup Favorites playing in our backyards.