|Bruins Sign Jimmy Hayes, Brett Connolly||Connelly’s Top Ten: USA Women, Red Sox Bore Astros into Submission||Preparing for Another Year of Rebuilding for the Celtics||Red Sox Bullpen Sleeper: Matt Barnes|
Well, the 2014 Boston Bruins season has officially come to an end. After a disappointing loss to the Canadiens in Game 6 to even the series, it looked like a win at home would be the best way for the Bruins to move one step closer to the Stanley Cup.
The Bruins had looked their normal selves as of late, but were unable to answer the call against a tough Montreal team. After giving up goals in the first two periods of Game 7, the Bruins finally answered with a goal of their own when Jarome Iginla scored making it a 2-1 game. Things looked like the Bruins might have had a chance to tie up the game until Montreal’s Daniel Briere made it 3-1 with less then 3 minutes left in the game. As the Bruins’ hopes and dreams of a Stanley Cup slowly slipped away, the question remains — what happened?
Many of the major playmakers for the Bruins seemed to have been absent during most of the playoffs. Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Carl Soderberg had almost no impact on the offense and seemed to be distracted. If it weren’t for late game heroics by players like Matt Fraser, then the Bruins might not have even made it as far as they did.
Having been bounced from the NHL playoffs, the next question that arises for the Bruins is what direction will the team take in the offseason? How secure is Claude Julien’s job? Cam Neely must be considering his options now that the Bruins have missed another opportunity at a championship.
But enough about the Bruins. There are still two conference finals to be played!
Now that the Bruins and Penguins are both out of contention, we look forward to the Eastern Conference Finals between Montreal and the New York Rangers. Both teams have a healthy mix of young players like Subban and J.T. Miller, but also balance that with more experienced players like Brian Gionta and Brad Richards. I expect this game to be a match between two strong goaltenders and will result in little goal scoring. I expect the Rangers to win this series in six games.
The Chicago Blackhawks proved thus far that they are a strong favorite to win the cup again, and I believe that they won’t be stopped. With strong, young talent like Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews on the offense providing help for Corey Crawford will be a force to be reckoned with.
The final spot comes down to either the Los Angeles Kings or Anaheim Ducks. With the series even at 3-3, I expect L.A. to carry over its momentum from winning Game 6 and steal Game 7 on the road in Anaheim to face Chicago in the Western Conference Finals.
I predict the Stanley cup finals will be an original six matchup, pitting Chicago against NY with the Blackhawks winning the series 4-2. I think the youth of Chicago’s offense, defense and strong goaltending will be too much for the Rangers and will allow them to repeat.