BOSTON — It’s really not supposed to be this easy. At the very least, it shouldn’t look so easy.
The Bruins are doing something pretty special right now, and if they can do it for two more games, they’ll hoist their second Stanley Cup in three years. But it’s not that fact by itself that is so impressive, rather it’s how the Bruins are doing it and who they’re doing it against.
If the Bruins do end up winning the Cup — and they got one step closer with a 2-0 win over Chicago in Game 3 on Monday — no one will be able to dispute their path to the Cup. After thoroughly dismantling the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals, the Bruins now lead the Stanley Cup Final 2-1.
While the Cup Final hasn’t been the walk in the park that the round before was, the Bruins are showing no signs of slowing down. The Bruins did it again in Game 3 where their superiority, for one night at least, wasn’t questioned. The B’s gave the Blackhawks nothing, and in the first game of the series that didn’t go to overtime, there was no questioning who would win this one.
The Bruins dominated from the opening faceoff (on their way to winning 40 of 56 said faceoffs on the night), and they never looked back. Boston had the edge in all three zones and in all facets of the game. They were better when it was 5-on-5. Their penalty kill continued to roll (27 straight kills), and their power play scored its second goal of the series on a Chicago PK that entered the Final leading the league in that category.
Additionally, the Bruins’ depth — arguably the biggest reason they got by the Rangers and Penguins in the previous two rounds — seems to be a strength of the club again. The decision to put Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly with Tyler Seguin has paid off in the biggest way over the last two games. The Bruins even got contributions from the fourth line as well in Game 3, which allows Boston head coach Claude Julien to roll all four lines at any time with the confidence that they can at least be competitive.
It certainly doesn’t hurt that Tuukka Rask, who registered his third shutout in his last seven games, is playing like the best goalie on the planet right now, either.
“As I said, a little while back, we’re playing the best hockey the season right now,” Julien said. “That’s what you’ve got to do right now. That’s what you’ve got to do to give yourself a chance to win a Stanley Cup.”
The crazy thing at this point, is that the Bruins could be up 3-0 in this series right now. They held a 3-1 lead in Game 1, and the Blackhawks needed a fluky goal late in Game 1 and a bunch of Bruins’ missed opportunities in overtime to eventually win in triple-overtime. And while the Bruins maybe got away with one in Game 2, especially with the way they played in the first period, it says a lot about the B’s in the way they fought through that and eventually picked up the win.
The reality, however, is that the Bruins are only up 2-1, and to a man, they aren’t taking that for granted. They know they’re playing the Presidents’ Trophy winners on the other side, and they must still win two more games against a Chicago team that was the best team in hockey for the majority of the season.
“We’re not a satisfied group, whether it’s through wins or through games,” Julien added. We try and I guess better ourselves in certain areas. That’s what we’ve got to continue to do.
“Again, I can’t say enough about the team we’re playing. They’ve got great speed, great skill.”
Even so, the Bruins continue to shut down the top-flight talent that has stood in front of them. After holding Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin pointless in the conference finals, the B’s have held down Chicago’s dynamic duo of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane through three games, allowing Kane to register a lone assist to begin the series.
“We’ve said it a lot, it’s about, I guess, trusting the system and making sure we have layers and we communicate on the ice,” Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. “I think we definitely got to do that even more against them. They have so much talent and great transition. There’s some room to get better, but obviously we’ve got to feed off that system and do it to the ‘tee’.”
The system has gotten the Bruins this far, and it continues to be the reason for their success. They have bought in, and the results are speaking for themselves right now.