Don’t Compare These Boston Bruins to The 2010 Version

As soon as the Boston Bruins dropped Game 5 on home ice vs the Toronto Maple Leafs, the whispers began to start. Across Southern Ontario, on Twitter, even on SportsCentre, hockey fans and observers alike started looking back to 2010 and saying “well if any team is capable of coughing up a 3-1 series lead, it’s the Boston Bruins.”

Despite dropping Game 5 in Toronto, the Bruins are not the same team that lost to the Flyers in 2010 (Photo by Bob Fina)

In some ways, this is true. The 2010 Boston Bruins did indeed blow a significant series lead vs the Philadelphia Flyers, becoming only the 3rd team in NHL history to win the first three games of a series only to drop the next four.

And while this was only a scant few years ago, to bring up this fact up now in 140 characters or less or in a passing segue on sports highlight show is not only incredibly lazy, but it also ignores an argument busting inconvenience known as context.

Folks can cling to the above statement all they want, but there are major differences between THAT Bruins team and THIS Bruins team, many of which nullify any notion that the current squad is prone to allowing history to repeat itself.

Boston Bruins Roster Changes

If you take the time to look at the box score from Game 7 of the series between the Bruins and the Flyers in 2010, you’ll notice that there are significant differences between that team and the current lineup.

Of the 18 active skaters that night, only 7 can be found on a Bruins game sheet from this year’s playoffs: Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille, Andrew Ference, Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk.

There are 11 new faces in the current lineup, many of whom are a significant upgrade over their predecessors.

2010 2013
Blake Wheeler David Krejci
Steve Begin Nathan Horton
Mark Recchi Jaromir Jagr
Trent Whitfield Tyler Seguin
Vladimir Sobotka Brad Marchand
Michael Ryder Chris Kelly
Miroslav Satan Gregory Campbell
Marc Savard Rich Peverley
Dennis Wideman Dennis Seidenberg
Mark Stuart Adam McQuaid
Matt Hunwick 43 / 6 / 27

A look at the stats from the 2010 playoffs reveals that it was Wideman who led the team in scoring (12 pts), followed by Bergeron (11), Recchi (10), Satan (10) and Lucic (9), with Krejci also chipping in 8 points in 9 games before getting injured on this play in Game 3 of that series.

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Many consider that to be the turning point in that series, especially considering that way Krejci was playing and the fact that Marc Savard was unable to contribute much (apart from this OT beauty in Game 1) after having missed 2 months of the season with a severe concussion.

The reality is that if you look at the players on the left of the above table and suggested to any casual hockey observer that they were one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals, well it’s almost as surprising as the fact that they managed to blow a 3-0 series lead.

Quite simply, the 2013 Bruins are better and deeper than the 2010 incarnation, and the franchise has been through a lot since that time.

Experience & Growth

On top of some significant changes that have occurred in the composition of the Bruins lineup since 2010, one must also consider what this franchise has accomplished since.

The very next year, the Bruins not only exorcised some hockey demons by sweeping the Flyers, they also battled back from 0-2 series deficits to beat out the Montreal Canadiens and the Vancouver Canucks, and won three Game 7’s en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.

If there was any way to overcome what had happened in 2010, that was it.

And if you compare the lineup from Game 7 in Vancouver to the one currently being iced against Toronto, you see that there are only a few different faces: out are Tomas Kaberle, Mark Recchi, Michael Ryder and Tim Thomas, and in are Jaromir Jagr, Nathan Horton, a combo of Wade Redden / Matt Bartkowski / Dougie Hamilton, and Tuukka Rask.

Therefore, the current lineup is significantly closer to the one that raised the Cup in 2011 than the one that blew the series in 2010. The additions of Horton (whose playoff success has been remarkable) and Jagr (whose experience mirrors that of a Mark Recchi) only serve to enhance its potency, and Rask’s current level of play is not far off from what Thomas provided in 2011.

What Does It All Mean In 2013?

In short, yes, 2010 DID happen. But the Boston Bruins have evolved since then; their roster has changed significantly, and they have a different measure of experiences, successes and yes, even failures to draw upon (let’s not forget the first round loss to the Washington Capitals in 2012) that would suggest that 2010 is ancient history.

It’s unfortunate that they were unable to end the series at home in Game 5, but anyone who has watched this team closely in 2013 would know that they have, at times, struggled to close out games. Hopefully those are recent lessons (based on relevant experiences) that this current group will be able to learn from heading into Game 6.

Coach Julien said it perfectly in his post Game 5 comments:

Added a couple of the guys who have been through all the recent ups and downs:

(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Jake Gardiner and the Leafs are looking to keep things rolling in Game 6. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

Is it possible for the Leafs to complete the comeback? Sure. They have certainly impressed in this series, and the significant gap that used to exist between these two teams has definitely narrowed, in no small part due to the play of James Reimer.

If that were to happen, however, it would have nothing to do with 2010; it would be all on the shoulders of 2013 version of this team (and due in no small part to a lack of production from Marchand & Seguin, two key pieces that were not around in 2010), and would be considered a massive disappointment in light of what they were able to accomplish in 2011 and the expectations that still surround them.

As Julien said, urgency is what this team needs to play with in Game 6, and if they begin Sunday the way they finished on Friday, they should be just fine.

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