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Why Boston will win the Cup

by Shawn P. Roarke
If you believe in the maxim that defense wins championships, well, then meet the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins.

The Big Why: It might be hard to find a better defensive team than the Boston Bruins, whose 2.30 goals-against per game is the best mark in the Eastern Conference and second-best in the League.

Boston's own-zone prowess should not come as a surprise, however, as they possess one of the game's best goalies. Tim Thomas is enjoying a season for the ages. Tim Thomas, a candidate for both the Vezina and Hart trophies, has a 2.00 goals-against average this season and his save percentage of .938 was the best in the League. His back-up, Tuukka Rask, is also no slouch, checking in at 2.67 GAA and 11 wins.

Thomas also gets a lot of help from Zdeno Chara, Boston's rock on the blue line. Only five defensemen average more ice time per game than Chara's 25:26 – and four of those five play in the Western Conference. Chara skates in all situations and physically intimidates opposing forwards. He fits the bill -- you might even say he is the 2011 prototype--as a playoff game-changer.

The Big Uh-Oh: Really, the only question facing the Bruins may be if they can score enough goals to lift Lord Stanley's hardware. Milan Lucic is their only 30-goal scorer and they didn't have a player reach the 70-point mark.

Final Argument: But, history is on Boston's side this April, May and June. Last season, the Bruins suffered an epic loss in the first round, coughing up a three-games-to-none lead to Philadelphia to lose in seven games. As painful as it might have been, that collapse looks to be the character-defining loss that most championship teams need to reach the Promised Land.

Believe it. Boston will become the second-straight Original Six team to erase a long drought without the Stanley Cup. Last season, Chicago ended its drought at 49 years. This spring, Boston puts a 39-year-old Cup-less streak to rest.

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