Why the Bruins shouldn’t apologize for laughing their way to Stanley Cup Final

When the Lightning and Capitals were eliminated in the playoffs' first round, the Bruins were left with an easier path through the East.

Bruins NHL Playoffs Eastern Conference Final
The Bruins played relatively inferior competition based on regular-season points on their path to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. –Grant Halverson / Getty Images

COMMENTARY

Last time it snowed, I had two options; Wait for my plow guy so that I might be able to escape via the long, winding driveway that leads from my home to the main road, or laboriously bulldoze a navigable path to freedom by myself with the aid of a shovel and four-wheel drive.

It was about an hour later when I had pulled a muscle in my back, left a plume of gas fumes hovering over my property from repeatedly revving the engine, and had to recruit help from a neighbor when I encountered a wall of snow at the intersection of the road and driveway, courtesy of the local DPW. But I was out. Physically debilitated, but out all the same.

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Now, I bring this incident out of the who-gives-a-damn archives to illustrate the emptiness of labor. Eventually, see, the plow came and took care of the clumpy mess I had created in front of our house and, some time later, my wife was able to easily drive away without any incident. Less drudgery, same result. Good for her.

Meanwhile, I didn’t even get a certificate of accomplishment or anything.

Which brings us to the Boston Bruins, a team bound (eventually) for the Stanley Cup final after a postseason run that has been something a little less than the laborious schedule originally forecasted. Instead of brick walls and immoveable boulders, the Bruins found themselves dealing with Duplo towers and wet pebbles, easily knocked over and crushed en route to an 11-day waiting game.

By the time the Bruins escaped the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opening round of the NHL playoffs, gone were the Tampa Bay Lightning, owners of a historic 62-win season. Gone were the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals and Braden Holtby, a team and a goalie that have collectively been the Godzilla to Boston’s Bambi over recent hockey history.

Rather, the Bruins were left to dispatch a physical, but undermanned, Columbus Blue Jackets team, and a Carolina Hurricanes squad that was more reminiscent of preseason folly than it was any serious competition in the Eastern Conference finals.

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As far as roads go, the Bruins’ run to the Cup was paved and open to travel with ease. Instead of road blocks set up in Tampa and, most assuredly, Washington, the Bruins got the luckiest of draws in having to face a pair of wild card teams instead, franchises that eventually ran out of gas after their initial Christmas morning-like bursts of energy at the opening of the playoff gate.

In Carolina (99 points) and Columbus (98), the Bruins had to tangle with the NHL’s 11th and 13th-best teams during the regular season, respectively. Tampa (128) and Washington (104) were first and fourth, respectively.

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Instead of having to deal with a pair of arduous blockades, the Bruins had it easy. It’s OK to acknowledge.

But it’s not like they should have to apologize.

Nor should the St. Louis Blues, who finished off the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night. The Blues were tied with the Hurricanes during the regular season, amassing 99 points, which might spark some concern over the level of opposition the Bruins are going to face yet again. Yet, nor were the Blues a wild card, a slot in the NHL that often feeds into late-season surges that tend to carry over into the playoffs, i.e. the Blue Jackets and Hurricanes.

It isn’t the showdown some had anticipated either, particularly with old pal Joe Thornton and the creature residing on his chin looming with the Sharks. Not to mention the fact that Sharks goalie Martin Jones had started to resemble Malcolm Subban while Blues netminder Jordan Binnington has been the most torrid hand this side of Tuukka Rask. (Whoever has the hot goalie, yada yada…)

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Little to emerge from this postseason has been as predicted. It has either been all too easy to the degree that danger lurks around the corner, or we will all look at this Stanley Cup as the easiest championship Boston has secured since the Colorado Rockies were in the World Series for some reason.

The Blues haven’t been here since 1970, the year Bobby Orr scored the most overrated goal in hockey history leading to the greatest photo ever taken in sports history. The backstory of the image is meaningless but to those who insist on reminding us that the Bruins already led that series 3-0 before Orr netted the game-winner and leapt in celebration. And…yeah, but cool picture, man.

Alternatively, this is the third trip in nine years for the Bruins’ core of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and the like. They didn’t have to get here by grinding it out against fiercer competition. Whatever. Historical context of the journey isn’t the point.

That inevitable photo of Rask raising the Cup will be accompanied by narratives of the redemptive dominance the goalie displayed along the way, not the fact that he happened to draw the former Whale.

Oh, there will be that one person, of course, the same who feels the inherent need to put a dent in the Orr photo.  “Let me tell you the real story,” an offer that won’t really change anything in most minds. I mean, it’s still the best &$#@*&# photo ever. It’s like disparaging a gorgeous photo of a sunrise by rationalizing that, at some point, the thing was gonna come up anyway.

The Bruins are playing for the Cup. Again. It doesn’t matter how they got here.

Labor is overrated anyway. For a region that hasn’t celebrated a championship in nearly four months, maybe we finally deserve these little nods of nobility.