In the fall, it was the Red Sox. In the winter, it was the Patriots. In the spring, it’s the Bruins’ turn. Another season has brought another chance for a local team to win a championship.
The only problem for some fans is that it can all seem like a blur. Where other cities or regions focus their energy on one team, Boston fans are committed to an unceasing multi-sport chase.
While clearly filed under the category of “good problems,’’ the issue of constantly keeping track of the various teams can be a daunting one for fans of Boston sports.
Here’s a quick refresher on the Bruins before the best-of-seven Stanley Cup Final gets underway on Monday, May 27.
■ How did the Bruins get here?
Despite going 49-24-9 in the regular season (totaling the second most wins in the Eastern Conference), the Bruins finished second in the Atlantic Division because the Tampa Bay Lightning tied the NHL record with 62 regular-season wins.
In the playoffs, the Bruins won a back-and-forth seven-game battle with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a six-game fight with the Columbus Blue Jackets, and a four-game sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes to be crowned conference champions.
■ Have the Bruins been here before?
Yes, this will be the Bruins’ 20th appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, the fourth-most among NHL teams. The last time they made it this far was in 2013, when they fell to the Blackhawks in six games. The Bruins have suffered 13 losses on the NHL’s biggest stage.
Their last Stanley Cup win came in 2011, ending a 39-year drought. In total, the Bruins have won the Cup six times: 1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972, and 2011. The team’s most successful period came in the 1970s, when the Bruins reached five Stanley Cup Finals, winning twice.
■ Is anyone still around from the last Cup winner?
Five players remain from the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Bruins roster: Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Brad Marchand, and Tuukka Rask.
Bergeron, Marchand, and Krejci are all examples of successful drafting on the part of the Bruins. Each was selected outside of the first round but has gone on to play a crucial role over the years.
Rask was added in a trade when he was a teenager prior to his NHL debut.
Only Chara, signed as a free agent in 2006, joined the Bruins as a known quantity. At 42 years old, he’s the team captain and elder statesman.
■ Who are some players to watch?
Aside from the holdover core of players from the 2011 team (all of whom are vital to the Bruins’ success), winger David Pastrnak ranks near the top in terms of importance to the team. Just 22, Pastrnak is already in his fifth NHL season. With a line of 38-43—81 in 66 games, he bested his previous top point total (81 from a season ago) despite playing in 16 fewer games.
Defenseman Torey Krug is also likely to feature prominently in the upcoming games. The last Bruins’ run to a Stanley Cup Final was Krug’s breakthrough moment as an NHL player. Since the 2013 loss, the attack-minded defenseman has grown as a player.
■ Did anyone predict the Bruins would be here?
In short, not really. When 18 NHL.com writers were asked to make predictions at the beginning of the season, just one thought the Bruins would reach the Stanley Cup Final. A total of 13 writers believed the Lightning would be the Eastern Conference representative.
(Note: The lone writer who thought the Bruins would reach the Final didn’t pick them to win, instead choosing the San Jose Sharks.)
While many experts foresaw the Bruins reaching the playoffs, they were not a popular pick to advance more than one round. Yet the Lightning were eliminated by the Blue Jackets in a shocking first-round upset, helping to clear the path for a Bruins run.
■ Are there any local ties?
The Bruins have a range of players with Massachusetts connections. Forward Charlie Coyle, acquired in a February trade for former Harvard star Ryan Donato, hails from Weymouth (and he played at Boston University). Forward Chris Wagner is from Walpole. Another BU grad, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, is from Charlestown, and his father is a member of the bull gang that changes over TD Garden between Celtics and Bruins games.
The other notable player with a local tie is defenseman Charlie McAvoy. Selected by the Bruins with the 14th overall pick in the 2016 draft, McAvoy attended BU for two years. He turned pro in 2017 and made his Bruins debut in the playoffs barely two weeks after representing the Terriers in the NCAA championship.