Surely by now, the immediate sting of a Stanley Cup loss has worn off for the Boston Bruins. The more pleasant article to read might say that the B’s are definitely going to be back in the 2020 SCF. After a crushing Game 7 loss, to come all that way for nothing. It may be more than one season before we see another Bruins Cup Final appearance.
A Look at the Past
To start this off, the past cannot tell us for certain what will happen again. But it can give us a look at patterns that appear. In this case, it can help us see what happens the next year to the team that loses the Stanley Cup Final.
This year, the Vegas Golden Knights, after a phenomenal first season, were booted from the playoffs in the first round. The Nashville Predators, after losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins, lost in the second round the following year. Prior to that, the San Jose Sharks, who also lost to the Penguins, were eliminated in six games by the Edmonton Oilers the next season.
This trend of the losing team not making it back to the Cup Final goes back to 2009. Then the Penguins faced the Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back Cup Finals and came away with a win a year after losing it.
After a draining Final, the realization is that there are another 82 games to play before Boston could see playoff hockey again. The end of next season seems so far away. The Bruins could find their way back, but they need to get better. In a way, the B’s were fortunate to get where they were. This post-season was filled with upsets that seemed unpredictable.
A Tough Eastern Conference Collapsed
Aside from it being a very difficult task to get back to the Final in the first place, this postseason was not a predictable one. It could mean more trouble for the B’s next season. It seems very likely that the Tampa Bay Lightning will have another great season. Perhaps not a dominating one like this year, but they are still a solid team that knows what that feeling is like. So for them to exit after four games, or even in the first round at all, seems like it won’t happen again in the near future.
Alongside the Lightning, the Penguins and Washington Capitals were eliminated early. Both teams have been powerhouses that usually have a stranglehold on the Metropolitan Division and clash in the second round. After a sweep of the Penguins and an overtime Game 7 loss for the Caps, teams with limited recent playoff experience took over the Metro side.
It also looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs will stay a top-three team in the Atlantic. And by now, they have to be sick and tired of losing to the Bruins in the first round. They know what adjustments they have to make and are surely going to try to take the Bruins down if no other team does it first.
These four teams know that the goal is never just to make the playoffs. So after disappointing ends to each season, expect each of these teams to play harder. They may advance further and try to prevent a Bruins Cup Final run.
Perhaps the best thing to come out of that Game 7 loss was the fact that players made it public that they wanted to stay in Boston for a long time. Charlie McAvoy and Noel Acciari both said that they hope to stick around. They aren’t the first athletes to say this. It’s a small win given that the team just lost the Cup on home ice for the second time in six years.
What’s Next for Boston
The Bruins will also have their veteran captain back for one more year. They can also try to find a player that fits in their top-six forwards. As good as their top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron was, they need something else. Such as finding one more good player this off-season. A player who might allow them to shuffle that line to produce an equally dangerous second one with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci.
The Bruins have the potential to upgrade their roster before the season starts and will have to make some tough decisions before their first game. It’s nice to hear that players want to stick around. However, just wanting to be here isn’t the standard for teams that play in Boston — proving it by winning a championship is.
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