What Went Wrong: Is the Bruins' Window Closed?
The Boston Bruins suffer their second Elite Eight exit since reaching the Stanley Cup Final, now marking a full decade since their last Stanley Cup
The Boston Bruins suffered a blowout loss--6-2--against the New York Islanders in Game Six of the East Division Final, handing the team their 2nd-straight second round elimination since reaching the Stanley Cup Final in 2019. The loss and elimination means that the Bruins have now gone a full decade since winning the Stanley Cup in the 2010-11 season--a drought that has seen the Bruins reach the Final twice, losing to the Chicago Blackhawks (six games) in 2013, and losing to the St. Louis Blues (seven games) in 2019.
So how did this happen? Well, the Perfection Line (Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak) did their thing, but that's usually where it ends. As a Colorado Avalanche fan, I've often said that those who call the Avalanche a "one-line team" have not watched the Bruins. That team has spent the last number of seasons living and dying by that line. The Perfection Line has to produce in order for the Bruins to win, because if they don't, God help them. Overall, Pastrnak led in points with 15 (7G/8A), Marchand had 12 points (8G/4A), but Bergeron only had nine (4G/5A) in 11 games. Tuukka Rask's numbers: 6-4, 2.35 GAA, .919 SV%. Rask doing Rask things.
Also, Boston fell victim to one simple factor: Barry Trotz. Since winning the Cup in 2018 with the Washington Capitals, Trotz seems to have a knack for messing the up a lot of strong teams in the playoffs. This includes three playoff wins against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and defeating the Capitals in the Toronto bubble in 2020. I don't know what it is, but since Trotz took over as Islanders coach, that team seems to beat heavyweights, and regarding the Bruins, they were just in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Now let's go back to that 2011 Cup team. Only four players remain from that team from ten years ago: Marchand, Rask, Bergeron, and David Krejci. Though the Bruins have continued to be a Cup threat every year since, there's one thing that can't be denied: age. Bergeron and Krejci are each 35, Rask will turn 35 next season, and Marchand is the youngest of that core at 33. Now I'm not saying that any of their games will go south (though Krejci's already has), but I'm not saying they won't either. The fact remains: time is undefeated. They already have youth in the form of Pastrnak, and Taylor Hall is young too, but he'll turn 30 in November. That Bruins team needs just a bit more youth; they do not want to end up like the Kings, who still have a lot of the pieces left from those two Cup years.
The Bruins, much to the dismay of Maple Leafs fans, will be back in the Atlantic Division next season. This means that the only top teams they'll have to deal with are the Leafs, and the Florida teams, and I say this even though the Canadiens are part of the Final Four this year. Because of this, Boston will continue to be in the Atlantic Division's top three, but with that core getting older, it will be harder and harder for the team to go real deep in the playoffs. As for the topic question: is the Bruins' window closed? My answer: not quite yet, but it's close. The Bruins still have a shot at another Stanley Cup, but again, they need more talented youth, and the other three lines need to step it up--it can't just be the Perfection Line all the time.