This morning the Boston Bruins have the chance to do what no other team this round has. They also have the chance to do what no Bruins squad has done since before most of this team were allowed to cross the street by themselves. They have the opportunity to sweep a hungry and competitive team that has shown it can beat excellent goaltending and contain top flight offensive powers. They have the opportunity to place themselves on the mantle next to Bourque, Neely, Oates, Moog and become the heroes this generation of hockey fans embrace, venerate and talk about to their children and grandchildren.
This years Bruins also have the opportunity to forever quiet the mutters of their detractors. Marc Savard can prove a team really can win in the post season with him as their best offensive center. By resuming the quality penalty killing he’s become accustomed to playing he can make laughingstocks of all the those who have ignored his last three seasons and continue to say “all he does is get points”. When he makes another key defensive play all the talking heads who say he’s lost in his own end will have to change their tune.
Andrei Kostitsyn, Hugh Jessiman, Dustin Brown, Robert Nilsson, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Cory Urquhart, Ryan Stone, Loui Eriksson, what do these guys have to do with the Bruins? All of these forwards were taken ahead of Bergeron and have failed to justify it. You can argue that Richards is better, his points per game percentage is 1% better, but he’s had more scoring threats to work with. And that 1% is telling when you take in Bergerons season lost to a grave concussion and then his return season was less than spectacular as well. Despite the injuries Bergeron has played more games, dominates at the faceoffs dot, and is in peak physical condition all year. Yet when people talk about players other than Fluery, Phaneuf and Staal of that draft class Bergeron’s name is suspiciously absent.
Mark Stuart was one of the defensemen taken ahead of Bergeron. Close observers of the team and player understand why. Others question why anyone would use a first round pick on him. Simply put he is this generations Scott Stevens, he’s a well positioned, rock steady, defense first, shot blocking, and hit making machine. In twenty years people will call the devastating hits delivered cleanly in open ice by young stud defensemen “Mark Stuart hits”. Ryan Suter and Brent Seabrook were drafted ahead of him and have lived up to it. Brent Burns shows glimmers of first round skill, Phaneuf looked like a steal early on and has regressed heavily, Coburn is hard to quantify in the “defense is an option” Southeast division but clearly hasn’t justified his high selection. So tonight, and the rest of the playoffs Stuart can prove he should be spoken of as the pillar of the team he is, and why many questioned the selection of Komisarek over Stuart to the US Olympic squad.
Tonight, history should be and hopefully will be made.