Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 30: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins shakes hands with Aleksander Barkov #16 of the Florida Panthers after the Panthers defeat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime in Game Seven of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Curses may not be real. But the Boston Bruins just took the kind of loss that puts the fear of God in you.

Call this phenomenon whatever you want, even just a series of unrelated yet unfortunate events. But everyone who already believed in the NHL’s “Presidents’ Trophy curse” just got another B-shaped trophy to add to their shrines. And Boston’s many God-fearing Catholics are left wondering what sin warrants a punishment so cruel.

  • The Boston Bruins cruised to the Presidents’ Trophy in the 2022-23 regular season, then once the Stanley Cup Playoffs began rarely approached the collective level of play that paced them to their historic run in the first place. Linus Ullmark’s goaltending fell way off in the back half of the series, they melted down defensively, and Jim Montgomery went overboard. Injuries caught up to them and the team very well might have erred in forcing both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci back into the lineup.

    It’s frustrating to be left unsure whether the Bruins could have simply stuck to their lineups from Game 3-4 in order to shut the door on the Florida Panthers, give their veterans more time to rest, and look toward Toronto. But Bergeron and Krejci’s performance was far from the only issue. Too many problems popped up for the Bruins at the worst possible time, and so they’ve gone from a potential outlier to the Presidents’ Trophy curse to another chapter in the gospel.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 30: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins waves to fans before exiting the ice after Florida Panthers defeat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime of Game Seven of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 30: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins waves to fans before exiting the ice after Florida Panthers defeat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime of Game Seven of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • The strongest, most tangible evidence that dominance turned out to be a detriment was the Bruins’ slow start to the series. Montgomery admitted after Game 1, which the B’s were fortunate to win after an average-at-best effort, that the intensity level “surprised us a little bit and I think we had a little bit of nerves.” Brad Marchand acknowledged that he thought “everyone was nervous,” albeit some of the good kind – “nervous excitement.”

    After losing Game 5 on home ice, they were still calling to start games better. Starting “on time,” as both Montgomery and Marchand put it. The Bruins could never fully figure that part out, because they didn’t seem to start overtime of Game 7 on time, as the Panthers out-chanced them 6-3 (2-0 in the high-danger areas) en route to Carter Vehaeghe’s heartbreaking kill shot.

  • Apr 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) reacts on the winning goal during overtime in game seven of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

    Apr 30, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Florida Panthers left wing Matthew Tkachuk (19) reacts on the winning goal during overtime in game seven of the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

  • The Bruins are now the second Presidents’ Trophy winner in five seasons to bow out in the first round of the playoffs, joining the 2019 Tampa Bay Lightning. That list also includes the Bruins in 2020, who lost in the second round, as did the 2021 Colorado Avalanche and 2022 Panthers.

    Of course, the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks remain the last team to finish with both the best regular season record and a Stanley Cup win. We’ve reached the milestone of 20 seasons with only two Presidents’ Trophy winners to actually hoist the Cup at the end of the year.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 30: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins reacts after Florida Panthers defeat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime of Game Seven of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 30: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins reacts after Florida Panthers defeat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime of Game Seven of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 30, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • The Bruins and the city of Boston had reason to believe that the 2022-23 team was worthy of comparisons to the 2013 Blackhawks or 2002 Red Wings. How can anyone feel great about the Presidents’ Trophy when you have to stretch back to 2002 to find more than one champion? Anyway, those teams were deep and balanced and dotted with high-end talent. Just like the Bruins. At least, in terms of how they performed.

    Like those Chicago and Detroit teams, the 2023 edition of Boston was simply the best, deepest, most balanced team – on paper. That simply did not translate in the series against Florida. If these Bruins actually performed to the level we saw on their torrid winning streaks, especially on defense and in goal, then they should have won the whole thing, let alone gotten by Florida.

  • BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 26: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Tyler Bertuzzi #59 and David Pastrnak #88 after scoring a goal on Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers during the second period in Game Five of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 26, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – APRIL 26: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins celebrates with Tyler Bertuzzi #59 and David Pastrnak #88 after scoring a goal on Sergei Bobrovsky #72 of the Florida Panthers during the second period in Game Five of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 26, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Instead, the Bruins have made the damn curse stronger than ever. After setting regular season records for wins and points, to go from that to a first-round exit is to grant a curse an unprecedented increase in power.

    Whoever finishes the 2023-24 regular season with the best record, start praying. Light some candles. Looking at you, Toronto, Carolina, Edmonton, whichever franchise takes that leap.

    Because it’s more clear than ever that, for most teams, the Presidents’ Trophy is just too heavy to carry all the way to the Cup.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

  • MORE: How the last 10 Presidents’ Trophy Winners Did In The Playoffs

    TAMPA, FL - MAY 23: Joe Thornton #19 of the Florida Panthers shakes hands with Corey Perry #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after Game Four of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    TAMPA, FL – MAY 23: Joe Thornton #19 of the Florida Panthers shakes hands with Corey Perry #10 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after Game Four of the Second Round of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on May 23, 2022 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

    Florida Panthers, 2022: lost in the second round to the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games.

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JUNE 10: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche shakes hands with Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights after the Golden Knights defeated the Avalanche 6-3 in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on June 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JUNE 10: Gabriel Landeskog #92 of the Colorado Avalanche shakes hands with Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Vegas Golden Knights after the Golden Knights defeated the Avalanche 6-3 in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena on June 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    Colorado Avalanche, 2021: Lost in the second round to the Vegas Golden Knights in six games.

  • TORONTO, ONTARIO - AUGUST 31: Blake Coleman #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning shakes hands with Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins after the Lightning's 3-2 victory during the second overtime period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 31, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    TORONTO, ONTARIO – AUGUST 31: Blake Coleman #20 of the Tampa Bay Lightning shakes hands with Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins after the Lightning’s 3-2 victory during the second overtime period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on August 31, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    Boston Bruins, 2020: Lost in the second round to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games.

  • COLUMBUS, OH - APRIL 16: Players from the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning shake hands after Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated Tampa Bay 7-3 to win the series 4-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

    COLUMBUS, OH – APRIL 16: Players from the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Tampa Bay Lightning shake hands after Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs on April 16, 2019 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated Tampa Bay 7-3 to win the series 4-0. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

    Tampa Bay Lightning, 2019: Lost in the first round to the Columbus Blue Jackets in four games.

  • NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 10: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators congratulates Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets after a 5-1 Jets Victory in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 10, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

    NASHVILLE, TN – MAY 10: Ryan Johansen #92 of the Nashville Predators congratulates Blake Wheeler #26 of the Winnipeg Jets after a 5-1 Jets Victory in Game Seven of the Western Conference Second Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 10, 2018 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

    Nashville Predators, 2018: Lost in the second round to the Winnipeg Jets in seven games.

  • WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 10: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates off the ice following the Capitals 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 10: Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals skates off the ice following the Capitals 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center on May 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

    Washington Capitals, 2017: Lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins in seven games.

  • PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 10: Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals shake hands after the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

    PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 10: Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Braden Holtby #70 of the Washington Capitals shake hands after the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 10, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

    Washington Capitals, 2016: Lost in the second round to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games.

  • NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21: Antti Raanta #32 of the New York Rangers walks out for warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 21, 2016 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 5-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEW YORK, NY – APRIL 21: Antti Raanta #32 of the New York Rangers walks out for warmups prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game Four of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on April 21, 2016 in New York City. The Penguins defeated the Rangers 5-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    New York Rangers, 2015: Lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.

  • BOSTON, MA - MAY 14: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins shakes hands with David Desharnais #51 of the Montreal Canadiens after losing 3-1 in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 14: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins shakes hands with David Desharnais #51 of the Montreal Canadiens after losing 3-1 in Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the TD Garden on May 14, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    Boston Bruins, 2014: Lost in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens in seven games.

  • BOSTON, MA - JUNE 24: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup Trophy after defeating the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 24, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – JUNE 24: Jonathan Toews #19 of the Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup Trophy after defeating the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 24, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Boston Bruins 3-2. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Chicago Blackhawks, 2013: Won the Stanley Cup over the Boston Bruins in six games.

  • Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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