Opinion: Bruins are a victim of own success in public forums
Tuukka Rask will win his first Vezina Trophy (best goaltender) this season, Patrice Bergeron should win the Selke (best two-way forward), and there are whispers Zdeno Chara is a strong candidate to take home the Norris (best defenseman overall).
Even in a hypothetical sense, claiming three players from the same team deserve these honors feels off. But here’s the thing – no one is arguing otherwise. These predictions are not scorching hot, controversial takes.
The Bruins are just that good. They’ve lost exactly one game in regulation this past month. We are all witnesses to greatness, and as the playoffs inch closer and closer, thinking about the team’s dominance this regular season breeds simultaneous feelings that are both awesome and horrible.
First, the good: Boston finds itself in the driver’s seat to win the Presidents’ Trophy, the designation awarded to the team who has amassed the most points during the regular season. Clearly, the Bruins are a favorite to win the Stanley Cup this spring.
OK, now the terrifying part: if you’re a Bruins fan, the overwhelming amount of success experienced thus far is a zero-sum game. Regular season pride immediately morphs into a burden of great expectations come playoff time. The byproduct of that overnight transition takes a toll on a fanbase and its beloved team, because we’ve convinced ourselves the B’s are too good to fail.
This couldn’t be more unfair. In reality, every team is beatable. We’ve seen it happen, time and again — great regular seasons, chalk full of gushy storylines, leading to postseason letdowns. Think about the post-Spygate 2007-08 Patriots. Or, most famously, the post-Griffey Jr./A-Rod/Big Unit 2001 Seattle Mariners (Who? They’re the team that won 116 games in the regular season – tied for most ever all time – but unceremoniously lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Yankees).
A few brave souls are already hedging their bets for a letdown through poorly conceived columns, radio interviews, and television segments with the tagline: HAVE THE BRUINS PEAKED TOO SOON?
On the bright side, because the B’s captured a recent Stanley Cup, we’re spared the alternative ‘CAN THEY WIN IN THE CLUTCH?’ narrative … I mean, who can’t appreciate a healthy debate about the science behind the claim CLUTCH players have a magical super power that allows them to telepathically SLOW THE GAME DOWN IN THE BIGGEST MOMENTS?
(Sign me up!)
Look, the Bruins may win the Stanley Cup this spring; conversely, they could lose in the first round. Instead of enjoying the present, we have a tendency to overvalue the potential of the future and inflate the past with nostalgia. But whatever happens, just understand that Peak Talk — or its cousin, ‘HAVE THEY TUNED OUT THEIR COACH?’ speculation — is what happens when we have nothing else to discuss.
Follow Ryan Hadfield on Twitter @Hadfield__