After three decades in a conference populated mostly by teams outside the Central time zone, the Detroit Red Wings moved to the Eastern Conference for the 2013-14 season. Their reward for making the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a 23rd consecutive season is facing the class of their new conference.
The Bruins have represented the East in the Stanley Cup Final in two of the past three seasons, and this season won the Presidents' Trophy for the first time since 1989-90. Boston is an overwhelming favorite to reach the Cup Final for a third time in four years, but Detroit's season-ending surge makes the Red Wings a dangerous first-round foe.
Boston is led by the best trio of down-the-middle players in hockey: goaltender Tuukka Rask, defenseman Zdeno Chara and center Patrice Bergeron. Rask is a favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, Chara should be among a crowded group of contenders for the Norris Trophy, and Bergeron is one of the top two or three choices for the Selke Trophy.
Everything starts with the Bruins' spine and works out from there. The Bruins only wobble of the season came right after No. 2 defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was lost to a major knee injury, but the young defensemen improved and Boston remains the best team in East at possessing the puck and not allowing it to end up behind Rask.