Former Bruins defenseman and Hall of Famer Ray Bourque is looking forward to the upcoming Bruins season and is excited that hockey is back in Beantown. Bourque took some time recently to talk about the Bruins' recent ascent up the relevance ladder in the Boston sports scene and their progress made as a team over the last two seasons.
?They took a major step [the] last couple years and especially last season, winning their conference and a playoff round,? the former longtime captain of the Bruins told NESN.com. ?I?m sure they?re disappointed losing in the second round but looking forward to another good year and taking that next step forward.?
Bourque believes the Bruins can be even better this season and believes the key will be applying the lessons learned and experience gained from the past two seasons.
?Hopefully, they keep improving, and if they do that, they can make that next round in the playoffs,? he said. ?Obviously, it?s going to be hard, but they?re a good team, and I think they learned their lessons. Last season, they had a great opportunity to win a Game 7 in their own building, and that?s why you put so much importance on winning games in the regular season and finish as high as you can in the standings.
"I?m sure they?re disappointed about losing that game and not moving on to the semifinals, but they were right there, and I think they learned a lot and are ready to take that next step.?
Bourque is also excited about the new buzz around the team and the fans flocking to TD Garden more often to watch their NHL club.
?[It's] great to see them relevant again, and they?re a fun team to watch,? he said. ?Obviously, expectations are higher now, but that?s because they are so good. It?s been a long time, and yeah, it was great hearing that crowd [in Game 7]. But that?s why it was disappointing because they did have that chance to get to the next round. Expectations were high, and they will be higher this year.?
Bourque realizes plenty of Bruins players were battling through injuries and that those naturally took their toll on them in the playoffs, but he hopes the team realizes winning in the playoffs is about battling through injuries and adversity.
?That?s the way it goes. It?s tougher to win in the playoffs,? he pointed out. ?A lot of variables go into it, and yeah, you hear stuff afterward, but a lot of teams have injuries. You just need to find a way to win. But they?re a young team that has that experience now, and that bodes well for the future.?
Clearly, the five-time Norris Trophy winner agrees with the team?s current philosophy of team defense first, and that?s another reason he believes the Bruins are built for success.
?I think it?s important to focus on details and team defense, and no team will win without doing that,? he said. ?They have put an emphasis on that, and as we?ve seen, most champions win with good goaltending and team defense.?