In the six years since the Boston Bruins last won the Stanley Cup, they have gone through significant turnover. Gone are general manager Peter Chiarelli, coach Claude Julien, Milan Lucic, Tim Thomas, Nathan Horton, Mark Recchi, and more.
No matter. Six years after the Bruins last won the Cup, four years after they last played for it, and two years since their most recent appearance in the NHL Playoffs, the Bruins will once again hoist the Stanley Cup.
Although it might not have been believable earlier in the season, this is a different Bruins team, a team that has picked itself up after the Feb. 7 firing Julien, who spent parts of 10 seasons in Boston. This is a team that woke up to its underperformance and turned it around under coach Bruce Cassidy. It is a team that, when faced with a bump -- a four-game losing streak with two weeks remaining in the regular season -- did not fold, as it has done the past two seasons.
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That all starts with Brad Marchand.
Marchand had a career season with 85 points (39 goals, 46 assists), one year after having his best season (61 points, 37 goals, 24 assists), and just in time for his newly signed six-year contract to kick in in 2017-18. He surpassed his previous high point total by 24.
Not only that, but Marchand has elevated the rest of his team and his teammates with a budding leadership on and off the ice, avoiding some of the pitfalls that have sometimes tripped him up in the past.
Add to that the emergence of David Pastrnak, who has become a full-fledged force in his third season in the NHL, and the Bruins have two serious scoring threats. Pastrnak scored 34 goals this season, playing mostly alongside either Patrice Bergeron or David Krejci.
Speaking of Krejci, the center has always been able to raise his game in the most important times, leading the NHL in postseason scoring in 2011 (23 points, 12 goals, 11 assists) and 2013 (26 points, nien goals, 17 assists), the years the Bruins made it to the Stanley Cup Final.
Although Boston has had a work-in-progress defense for much of this season, it's still led by Zdeno Chara, and has gotten an added boost offensively from its defensemen in the months since Cassidy took over, with some extra aggressiveness from the back end.
Goalie Tuukka Rask has been a major factor in getting the Bruins to this point, even without much help from a backup until the end of the season, going 37-20-5 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .915 save percentage. And don't forget Rask's heroics in getting the Bruins to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, with a run that included a 1.88 goals against and .940 save percentage.
He has done this before. So have some of the Bruins who are left from those two seasons, including Marchand, Bergeron, Chara, and Krejci. Those stars, plus the boost of their new coach, will get the Bruins past the rest of the competition, all the way into the Final, and they will end the season with the Stanley Cup.