On Saturday afternoon’s matinee with the Buffalo Sabres the Bruins locked up the President’s Trophy for the NHL’s best record of the regular season. While being the best in the league is never a bad thing, winning the President’s Trophy, more often than not, does not translate into playoff success.
While it is true that last season’s winner of the President’s Trophy, the Chicago Blackhawks, also went on to win the Stanley Cup, it is important to remember that last season was only 48 games, so finishing the regular season with an impressive record was not as draining on the players as this full-length 2013-14 season was. The Bruins won more games this year than the Chicago Blackhawks played in total last season. Think about that for a second. Every win in the NHL is a tough one, especially with a playing style like the Boston Bruins,where wins are earned by grinding down and over-powering your opponent.
The reason why, historically speaking, President’s Trophy winners have not faired well in the playoffs is because they strained themselves trying to win the regular season championship. The Bruins are different in that aspect. Winning the President’s Trophy would be great, but they knew it was not the main priority. Key Bruins players like Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and a banged up Chris Kelly all saw some R&R before the season’s conclusion. Giving these players all the extra rest they can get, is a huge key to playoff success. The healthier your team is, the better they will fare when it matters most. This will be key to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup aspirations, they have all the key players in-tact, and with the possible returns of top four defenseman Dennis Seidenberg and top six defense defenseman Adam McQuaid come playoff time, the black and gold will be the heavy favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference with their third Prince of Wales Trophy in four seasons.
The Bruins will square off against the Devils in New Jersey Sunday afternoon, and do not expect to see a physical game. What you will more than likely see is a cautions Bruins team trying to avoid injury and prepare for the Detroit Redwings, who the Bruins will face in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The President’s Trophy is a great honor to win, but it means nothing. As the wise Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last”, and the President’s Trophy is just that: Second. There is only one way a hockey team can call themselves first; and that is bringing the Stanley Cup home.