Bruins Prove That Teams, Not Individuals, Win Championships

By Mike Miccoli

It starts with a milk crate.

Maybe a steel folding chair for some, an orange traffic cone for others, but for most, it’s a milk crate. You push it around a fresh sheet of ice, trying to learn how to balance yourself while wearing these uncomfortable, tightened boots with blades attached to the bottom of your feet, carving strides in between shortened breaths. It’s cold and the smell of the fumes from the Zamboni mixed with the stale, burnt popcorn from the old snack bar permeate the air. It’s bright in the rink, it’s early in the morning and in a strange, strange sense, it’s perfect.

Photo courtesy of Mike Miccoli

Photo courtesy of Mike Miccoli

You start as off as individual skater–everyone does. You learn how to stop, shoot, and then hit. Later, you’re grouped together with others of a similar age to form a team, a group of players bonded together by a common goal: a championship. Every player has a role–a responsibility. You win together, you lose together, you develop as players together. Teams win championships, individuals don’t. It’s the most basic concept of the game of hockey but yet it’s the most misunderstood.

It’s the reason why the Boston Bruins have been dominant as of late. It’s the reason why they’re, once again, Eastern Conference Champions. It’s the reason why they’re headed to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years.

On paper, nobody saw this coming. The Pittsburgh Penguins were a stacked roster, an all-star team assembled by sticking some of the best players in the world together while wearing the same jersey. They were a team before Jarome Iginla, Brendan Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen, all deadline acquisitions, came. But maybe, just maybe, they were always individuals who got hot at the right time when they won 15 straight games in March. Maybe their high-octane offense was good enough against the teams they faced to hide their defensive deficiencies and leaky goaltending. But teams win championships, not individuals, and maybe the Penguins were never really a team at all.

In reality, this probably shouldn’t have happened. Down 4-1 with 11 minutes left in the third period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, something clicked for the Bruins. It was like that switch we talked about all season not only was flipped, but ripped off the wall. Since their remarkable comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins have been a different team, winning nine of their last ten games. They beat the New York Rangers in five and swept the Penguins holding Pittsburgh to only two goals all series, shutting them out in two of the four games.

And now, here we are.

(Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)

(Michael Ivins-USA TODAY Sports)

The Bruins always played with this team-first mentality. No superstars, no individuals, just doing whatever it takes to help your team win a hockey game. Sure, David Krejci is leading the postseason in points while Tuukka Rask is standing on his head, but on this Bruins roster, there aren’t any passengers. Every line is contributing whether it’s by getting on the scoresheet, winning faceoffs or playing solid defensive hockey. It’s a complete effort for 60-minutes from the offense, defense, goaltending, and coaches. It’s the right way to play the game: it’s the Bruin Way.

When Iginla was traded to the Penguins, he mentioned how he wanted the chance to play with the best players in the world. He never mentioned anything about the best team. Maybe we should have seen it coming there. The Penguin all-stars did nothing, aside from draw attention to themselves for their sudden lack of production. But it’s not about the Penguins, it’s about the Bruins who were the better team in every single facet of the series. And to the victors, come the spoils.

The Bruins were the better team and they always have been, we just needed to see the series to play out in order to fully comes to terms with it.

When you first start playing hockey, sometime after your first stride, goal, win, you begin to want more. You crave it and it’s that passion that drives you to keep going. Your team wants it, too. Together, you’ll leave everything on the ice and work towards a unified dream that beats so loudly in your heads that you can’t ignore it. The Bruins have it right now. They can hear it, and they started to hear it again weeks ago.

It ends with a Stanley Cup.

Follow Mike on Twitter for more Bruins updates, news and commentary.

Mike Miccoli

Mike Miccoli

Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins' home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno. You can follow him at twitter.com/mikemiccoli.
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5 Comments

  1. The only thing the Bs win “proves” is that there are 2 sets of rules. Regular season. And post season. It “proves” that clutch and grab can beat speed and skill.

    • Really, not the fact that the Bruins goalie stood on his head and the Bruins scored more goals than the Penguins or out played them. Wow!!! Another Penguins fans whining about the Refs.

  2. Dave Robinson says:

    What a thoroughly predictable and lazy piece. First of all, those superstars have their name on the Stanley Cup, and they went through a FAR tougher team and opposing coach to get it than the B’s did. And for all your talk about assembling talent: Pot meet Kettle. Your fan base was so butthurt that Iginla didn’t choose Boston it was hilarious. Your team tried harder to get him than Pittsburgh did. And when that happened you went and traded assets for a 41 year old Jagr of all people. So just stop with the hypocritical nonsense about trying to go after free agents. And I hate to break it to ya: but the Iginla book in Pittsburgh is still wide open. He wants to stay. And there’s always next year.

    Secondly, that team that was “never really a team at all” swept Boston this season. Boston didn’t even come close to shutting down the Pens this season the way they did in the playoffs. Talk about getting hot at the right time……Boston looked far from dominant this playoffs before the Pens showed and and played the worst hockey of the season. Maybe there’s something to be said for getting cold at the right time? Boston sure has never come close to duplicating this type of performance against Pittsburgh before. So stop with the nonsense using 4 games to try and make retarded claim about how Boston “has always been better”. The only reason Boston even made it to this series is because Toronto didn’t fall back into the trap like they should have. Had far more to do with Toronto than it did Boston. Get over yourselves.

    Leaky goaltending? Aside from one game there was no leaky goaltending once Vokoun was put in net. Try again.

    LOL….the “Bruin Way”. Hilarious. The Bruin Way is having the biggest scumbag owner in the NHL at the top of a very short list who kept that lockout going as long as it did. Ever consider the likelihood that none of these free agents (aside from the mercenary Jagr) want to come to Boston because to play for such an utter douche as Jeremy Jacobs. Yeah, try that on for size.

    This piece is just the kind of classless gloating and nauseating hypocrisy that makes the country hate Boston and take glee in watching the Patriots choke every year post-Spygate or watching the “team first” Celtics get spanked by that “collection of all stars” Miami Heat. And everybody outside of Boston will laugh and rub it right in your faces once Chicago smokes your boys six ways to Sunday.

    • Talk about butt hurt, your team is done and was done after game two. It doesn’t matter what your team did against the Bruins in the regular season. When it’s all said and done, the playoffs matter more. The fact remains, the Pens spend a boat load of money and look what it got your. swept. Swing and a miss Dave Robinson.

    • Boo-hoo-hoo, Dave.
      What a spiteful, ridiculous rant, one that is void of actual criticism and intelligence.
      It’s a hockey game. If you’re going to take offense to an article written on a fan site, then you might want to lock yourself in your house and turn your TV off, because it’s obvious that you don’t have the tools to deal with life or reality.

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