bruins will win the Stanley cup

Why the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup

“I’m an optimist, but no, I didn’t think we’d be here right now. That’s the simplest answer,” Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told CBS Boston when asked if he thought the Bruins would be as good as they are. Nobody, not even the coach of the Bruins thought they would be as good as they are right now, but now 55 games into the season the Bruins are just three points behind the Lightning for the best record in the NHL. As the Bruins keep winning the question of if they can win the Stanley Cup will start being asked more and more, but there are more reasons why the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup, rather than why they won’t, and it all starts with their red-hot goaltender Tuukka Rask.

Tuukka beating but then responded.

In late November Tuukka was on pace for his worst season statistically as an NHL goaltender. Bruce Cassidy had no choice but to bench him for Anton Khudobin, but when that didn’t work out the Bruins had to put their faith in Rask, and he delivered.

The difference between Rask’s play before December 7th and after is night and day. Before December 7, Rask had a 5-8-2 record with just a .906 save percentage, and he was allowing 2.5 goals per game.

Since December 7th Tuukka has an incredible 18-1-2 record as the starter. He has looked like an entirely different player than before. On this astonishing run, Rask has allowed 1.67 goals per game with a .941 save percentage. He has been a force of nature on this run and if he keeps this play up that is reason enough as to why the Bruins will win the Stanley Cup.

Offensive Explosions

bruins will win the Stanley cup

(Photo courtesy of the Boston Globe)

One thing that makes this Bruins team so deadly is their ability to score in bunches. With scorers like Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak it is no wonder how Boston is putting together scoring barrages on defenses. The Bruins have scored four or more goals on 22 different occasions this season and currently rank third in the NHL averaging 3.3 goals per game.

In their last 13 games, the Bruins have scored four or more goals seven different times and are averaging 3.69 goals per game in that span with an 11-2-0 record.

Patrice Bergeron has been the fuel to the Bruins offensive firepower this season, and this is especially true during this run. Bergeron has 18 points during this streak and has propelled himself into possible Hart Memorial Trophy considerations.

Brad Marchand’s five-game suspension started on January 23rd after he elbowed a New Jersey defenseman. Before his suspension, Marchand was a potential Art Ross Trophy front-runner, and now that he is back he will try to climb his way back into those conversations. In his first four games back he has had a point in all of them and now has a point streak of eight games dating back to January 18.

The Bruins offense is on fire recently and if it continues this team will be tough to beat in the playoffs. They are peaking at just the right time and could potentially overtake Tampa Bay for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Lock-Down Defense

Along with the excellent play of Tuukka Rask and the Offensive outburst the Bruins defense has played very well this season. The Bruins have held teams to two goals or less 31 times out of 55 games this season.

A lot of the defensive success is due to the elevated play of veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara. His plus-minus rating of +27 is the highest he has had since the 2011-12 season where he had a +33 rating. Along with one of the league’s best plus-minus ratings Chara 17 points on six goals and 11 assists.

Along with Chara, the emergence of 20-year old defenseman Charlie McAvoy has helped guide the Bruins into the NHL’s elite. McAvoy already has 26 points on the year and needs to be in serious considerations for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

McAvoy Injury

Charlie McAvoy experienced quite a scare when he a had a heart-related injury that sidelined him a few weeks ago. Now McAvoy is back to his old self and is playing at the level we saw at the beginning of the year. The process of returning from a heart injury can be tremendously terrifying, but McAvoy is handling it just like any other injury. Right now his primary goal is getting back up to where he was when he left the Bruins. When asked about returning from his injury McAvoy told the Boston Herald

“It’s kind of tough, because you get the rest and you feel good in that regard,” McAvoy said. “I don’t want to say you lose a step, but whenever you’re not playing, and you come back, you have to readjust yourself, so you can get to where you felt you were when you left off, especially when you leave off on a good note. And it’s easier said than done. Guys come back from injuries every day in this league, but it’s definitely hard to get back into that game pace. So I’m continuing to feel better. I’m starting to feel good, and I’m just trying to get better every day.”

Now that he is back McAvoy will look to get back to the way he was when he left off. Boston has played great without him, and now that he is back and getting into his rhythm again, they can be even better.

The Bruins Will Win The Stanley Cup If…

The Bruins will win the Stanley Cup if they can get continued good play from Tuukka Rask. The Eastern Conference is loaded with teams that are full of goal scorers and no matter how good your defense is those guys will get good looks. Rask doesn’t need to play ungodly like he has the last few weeks, but he will need to have a strong postseason if the Bruins are going to take home the Stanley Cup.

It is looking like the Bruins could potentially have home-ice all throughout the playoffs, and if that happens, there is a genuine possibility that they will make it. It will be a group effort, but this team has shown that they can beat any team on any night. As of right now, I would say they are the best team in the NHL, but come playoff time my viewpoint could change on that. But for now their play has warranted the attention of the national media, and they are serious Stanley Cup contenders.

 

 

 

Featured image by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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A recap of Paul Pierce’s historic Celtic career

Very few basketball players get to experience what Paul Pierce did Sunday night. He got to watch as his number 34 get hoisted into the rafters at TD Garden in Boston Massachusetts. A finals champion, A finals MVP and a 10 time Allstar, Paul Pierce stayed through the good and the bad with the Boston Celtics.

Now he gets to put his name in the same category with names like Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Robert Parish. Here’s a look back on his fifteen seasons with the Boston Celtics and why he is one of the Celtic greats.

Background:

Paul Pierce was the Celtics 10th overall pick in 1998. He is a 6-foot-7 small forward, drafted out of Kansas. Pierce spent 15 seasons with the Boston Celtics before being traded to the Brooklyn Nets.

Pierce received Big 12 MVP his sophomore season at Kansas. He has his High School, College and now NBA jersey all retired.

He trails only John Havlicek on the Boston Celtics All-time scoring list.

He played alongside stars like Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Antoine Walker and Shaquille O’Neal. Pierce holds the Celtics’ record for most three-point field goals made and also ranks third in team history in games played, second in points scored, seventh in total rebounds, fifth in total assists and first in total steals.

He is fifth in NBA history for total three pointers made behind: Reggie Miller, Kyle Korver and former teammates Jason Terry and Ray Allen.

The Stats:

Paul Pierce, (Photo by NBA Photos/NBAE via Getty Images).

In Paul’s 15 year Celtic career he never averaged under 16.5 points per game. That 16.5 campaign came in his rookie season where he shot 44 percent from the field and 41 percent from three.

The Celtics made the playoffs in 10 of the 15 seasons that Paul was in the white and green. His Celtics career regular season statistics read as 21.8 points per game, 6.0 rebounds per game and 3.9 assists per game. His player efficiency rating was 20.6 on average throughout his Celtic career.

Pierce played in 1,102 regular season game and scored 2,4021 points in those games. He shot 44.7 percent from the field, 37 percent from three and 80.6 percent from the free throw line over those 1,102 games.

He was never held scoreless in TD Garden (including the games he later played as a visitor). A statistic called wins shared shows that Paul Pierce contributed over 138 wins himself in his time.

In his Celtics career the Celtics were on average +6.8 points per season when Paul Pierce was on the floor versus when he was off it. He scored 2,843 points in the playoffs averaging 20.9 points per game. In the Celtics 2008 banner year he averaged 21 points and shot 44 percent.

The Captain and the Truth:

What makes Paul Pierce so special is that he stayed with the Celtics. He is different because unlike players today that want to leave the team that they were drafted from, he rode with the good and the bad. He spent 15 years in Boston and barring a trade would have probably spent his whole career there.

Paul Pierce is one of the greatest Boston Celtics ever, and now after all the box scores and statistics have closed it is time to say it. A sure Hall of Famer has finally left his mark on the NBA and has left behind one of if not the greatest Celtic resume of all-time.

Paul Pierce will go on New England sports fans mount rushmore. He will sit up their with Tom Brady, David Ortiz and Patrice Bergeron from their perspective sports. The thing that Paul did for the city of Boston was never make excuses. His teams would change year in and year out. Some of his teams were less than spectacular, but at the end of the day he wanted to win, and he did everything in his power to do so for the Boston Celtics.

Pierces’ level of consistency and his dedication led him to a night of being honored for his achievements. A man best remembered for his pull up buzzer beaters or his 41 point performance to beat LeBron in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals has finally cemented himself as a Boston Celtic legend, and that is the Truth.

 

Featured image from Bleacher Report.

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Art Ross Trophy candidates

Three surprise Art Ross Trophy candidates

The Art Ross Trophy is presented to the player with the most points at the end of the season. Last season, the award went to Connor McDavid after he scored 100 points in his 2016 campaign.

The Art Ross Trophy is a very prestigious trophy, but every year there is one player that makes a surprise push for it. In my opinion, there are three surprise players that could give players like Nikita Kucherov, Nathan MacKinnon and John Tavares a run for their money down the stretch.

For these three players to win the award, they are going to have to have a little bit of luck, but they will also have to keep up their great play.

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets

Blake Wheeler has been a very productive forward the past few seasons. Last season, Wheeler scored 74 points in what was his second highest career total. Currently at 54 points, Wheeler is only seven points behind Kucherov’s 61 for the league lead.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Bob Frid)

Recently, Wheeler has found success scoring the puck, and that is a big reason why he can make a run at the Art Ross Trophy. In his last 11 games, he has scored 13 points, and when Wheeler scores, he scores in bunches. In the 48 games he has made an appearance in, Wheeler has scored multiple points in 15 of them.

Another reason Wheeler could make a push is the team he has surrounding him. Wheeler is playing alongside Patrik Laine, who is one of the best young scorers in the NHL. But Wheeler also has Kyle Connor, who is a very talented young forward as well.

Connor and Laine have combined for 36 goals so far this season, and a big reason for that is because they are playing with Blake Wheeler. Over his last 10 with this line pairing, Wheeler has five goals and seven assists.

For Wheeler to win the Art Ross Trophy, he is going to have to have a hot streak at some point this season. It doesn’t have to be too big, just something like a 10-game stretch. Wheeler is a fantastic scorer, and he is benefitting from the players around him. He’s on pace for a career year and could very well make a run at the Art Ross Trophy.

Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand is the scoring leader on a Bruins team that is starting to hit its stride. Marchand currently has 50 points this year, sitting him 11 behind Kucherov for the NHL lead, but Marchand has been scoring in bunches lately.

In his last eight games, Marchand has scored 16 points. He is on an incredible hot streak, and if it continues, he will rocket up the point standings very fast. Marchand is my favorite of the three surprise players to win the Art Ross Trophy.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Christopher Evans)

One thing that separates Marchand from the NHL’s other top scorers is the efficiency that his team plays with while he is on the ice. His plus-minus rating is through the roof right now at +24. Marchand is playing on one of the top lines in the NHL in Boston. He is playing alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Both players can pass and score at will, and this is shown in the balance of Marchand’s stats. So far this season, Marchand has 21 goals and 29 assists, which are some of the most balanced numbers among all forwards.

For Marchand to win the Art Ross Trophy, it will all depend on how long this recent scoring surge lasts. If he can keep up this high level of play for another four or five games, he can put himself just a few points behind the league leaders. Marchand definitely has a genuine shot at winning the Art Ross Trophy in 2018.

Josh Bailey, New York Islanders

Although he is not far behind Kucherov in points this season, it would still be a surprise if Bailey was able to win the Art Ross Trophy. Bailey plays alongside one of the best scorers in the game in John Tavares. Tavares is currently three points ahead of Bailey this season, but this is why I think Bailey can take it home.

Art Ross Trophy candidates

(Photo by Getty Images)

So far, Bailey has 54 points on the season, and a lot of that is because he is playing on a line with Tavares and Anders Lee. However, Bailey has not been able to surpass his linemate this season. Bailey is racking up an incredible amount of assists. He is second in the NHL right now with 42, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

Bailey is in the running for the award right now. He just needs to stay on the pace he is on, and if he finds a way to score a few times without the help of Tavares, he might pass him up.

The Islanders have one of the best offenses in the NHL and are scoring 3.41 goals per game. The chances for Bailey will be there.

Recap

Anyone at anytime can start to feel it and start scoring points at a rapid rate. These are the three surprise players that I think will do that.

Wheeler, Marchand and Bailey are fantastic players that can score at any time. Their hard work and dedication to the sport is paying off for them, and it is enjoyable to watch.

 

Featured image NHL.com

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