Only six players remain as members of the Boston Bruins since the franchise’s last chance at the Stanley Cup in 2013, and five from the more memorable and rewarding experience two years prior. If this number seems low, consider the fact that only two St. Louis Blues have seen their teams go so far, David Perron, last season, and Oskar Sundqvist in 2016.
While veterans Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Joakim Nordstrom, and David Krejci have each lifted the greatest trophy in sports already, they hope to do so again, albeit in different roles. Meanwhile, Torey Krug and John Moore are seeking their first Stanley Cups after coming up short in their first attempts at the ultimate prize.
Here’s a deeper look into how each of Boston’s eight Stanley Cup Final veterans has come to be in the roles that they will fill this time around.
Chara’s Career Culminates With Second Stanley Cup
As captain, Chara was the first Bruin to lift the Stanley Cup in 2011, and the first in line to shake hands with the victorious Chicago Blackhawks two seasons later. Under both circumstances, he did so as the unquestioned number one defenseman, as evidenced by his average time on ice (ATOI), 27:39 (fifth-highest in the postseason) and 29:32 (second), respectively.
Six years later, Chara, now 42 years old, has understandably seen a drastic drop off in his ATOI, which stands at 22:32. This ranks second on the team behind his heir apparent, Charlie McAvoy, who averages 24:20. No longer a regular focal point on the power play, Chara remains a key cog on Boston’s penalty kill, which has operated at an 86.3 percent clip, fourth-best in the postseason.
With his days of totaling 15 playoff points (as he did in 2013) long gone, Chara’s current value, now more than ever, lies in his leadership. He would be the first Bruin to serve as captain on two Stanley Cup winning teams. Off the ice, the future Hall of Famer continues winning over the city through social media, which has resonated with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Bergeron, Marchand Still Linked, Locked and Loaded
Time sure does fly when you’re cementing a legacy, both individually and pairwise, as one of the most dominant duos in team, if not league, history. When Bergeron and Marchand joined forces within the memorable 2010-11 season, they did so on what was widely considered as Boston’s second line, along with future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi.
Bergeron (6 goals, 14 assists, plus-15) and Marchand (11 goals, 8 assists, plus-12), then a rookie, finished second and third, respectively, in team scoring throughout the playoffs, finding a chemistry that has not wavered since. This harmony was on full display in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final when they combined for five points (4 goals) in a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
When the Bruins returned to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013, the two reconvened with a new legend in Jaromir Jagr, who took over for a young Tyler Seguin. While their individual numbers regressed compared to 2011, Bergeron (9 goals, 6 assists, plus-2) and Marchand (4 goals, 9 assists, plus-4) provided plenty of heroics throughout the spring, including three combined overtime goals.
While the ending of their epic series with the Blackhawks wasn’t one they’d hoped for, Boston earned another try at a second Stanley Cup this decade. Six years after their last chance, the pair, alongside David Pastrnak, now spearhead a dangerous offense. Should the Bruins prevail, expect both Bergeron and Marchand to be considered for the Conn Smythe trophy.
Rask, Nordstrom Reveling in Regular Roles
You would be hard pressed to find many similarities between starting goaltender Tuukka Rask and depth forward Joakim Nordstrom. However, they do share the same boat in an interesting sense. Both can call themselves Stanley Cup champions despite virtually no playoff contributions in their respective winning seasons.
Rask stands to benefit the most from Boston winning the Stanley Cup, as it would erase the notion that he cannot do so, at least as a starting goaltender. When the Bruins went the distance in 2011, Rask looked on from the bench as Tim Thomas turned in a postseason for the ages, en route to Conn Smythe honors. His backup wouldn’t touch the ice once that Spring.
Now four wins away from the Stanley Cup, Rask is the odds-on favorite for Conn Smythe honors, posting a 12-5 playoff record, 1.84 goals-against average (GAA), and a .942 save percentage (SV%). To date, he has exceeded his exceptional play throughout the spring of 2013, which he concluded with a 14-8 record, 1.88 GAA, and a .940 SV%.
Nordstrom appeared in only 38 games for the Blackhawks throughout the 2014-15 regular season. He’d dress for only three games in their run to a third Stanley Cup in six seasons, twice in the opening round and once in the Western Conference Final. With Boston, the 27-year-old Swede has carved out roles on the fourth line and penalty kill.
Krejci Adding to Lasting Legacy in Playoffs
The beat goes on for David Krejci. In a superb career, thrice marred by injury, the 33-year-old center is forever consistent in thriving on the biggest of stages. After leading the playoffs in scoring over both Stanley Cup runs, it would take an offensive explosion for him to reclaim that accolade. With 14 points, Krejci sits a half-dozen back of San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture’s lead.
Bergeron’s aforementioned ascent into the number one center role means that, for the first time, Krejci is wholly considered as the second option. This suits him well, as his veteran presence has helped the development of second-year winger Jake DeBrusk. The two provided much of the regular season scoring depth needed for the Bruins to lock up second place in the Atlantic Division.
With two years remaining on his contract, this season was the true resurgence needed from Krejci. After missing 18 games a season ago, his ability to stay healthy while tallying a career-high 73 points (in 81 regular season games) played a major part in getting Boston to where they are today.
Krug, Moore Fighting for Better Fortunes in Finals
For Krug and Moore, the 2019 Stanley Cup Final is a fresh chance at redemption. Both have been part of a team that came up short of the ultimate goal: Krug with the Bruins in 2013 and Moore with the New York Rangers, who were bested by the Los Angeles Kings, a year later.
In his first go-round, Krug exploded onto the scene after an emergency call up in the second round against the Rangers. He’d become the first rookie blueliner in league history to score four goals in his first five playoff games. Krug has since become an integral piece on Boston’s power play which ranks first in the postseason at 34 percent.
As a regular on the Rangers’ third pairing, Moore finished with a pair of assists in 21 games played. His postseason role with the Bruins has not been of vital importance (appearing in only five games), but his veteran know-how only benefits the likes of Brandon Carlo, Connor Clifton, and McAvoy, who are all playing in their first Cup Final.
A perfect blend of veteran and young players with varying degrees of exposure to the Final should prove advantageous for Boston. With a handful of players looking to recapture the ultimate feeling,and others thirsty for their first taste of sweet success, the Bruins are primed and ready to hoist the Stanley Cup for the seventh time in franchise history.
A native of Saugus, MA, Matt graduated from Springfield College (‘13) with a B.A. in Communications/Sports Journalism. Previously, Matt contributed as the Boston Bruins/NHL Correspondent for TheNosebleeds.com before joining the Daily Item (of Lynn) in 2011 as a Sports Correspondent.