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NHL Boston Bruins

5 Reasons to Believe Boston Bruins Can Return to Stanley Cup Finals Next Season

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Boston Bruins: Five Reasons Why They May Be Back in the Stanley Cup Finals Next Year

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Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire

A season of promise, a miserable funk, an incredible run and a heart-breaking defeat. These all describe, in no uncertain terms, the most recent season for the Boston Bruins.

They came out of the gate flying, only to get stuck in the mud during an, at times, unwatchable slump through March and April. However, thanks to a stunning first-round comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Bruins made everyone forget the regular season with a thrilling run of dominance all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

It was here, though, that everything came to a crashing halt. A feel-good playoff tear was cut short at the finale, thanks to the most miserable 17 seconds of any Bruins fan’s life. Two Chicago Blackhawks goals in the blink of an eye buried any hopes of Boston’s second Stanley Cup in three years.

Ask any Bruins player, and you’ll obviously hear they’re still upset about it all. For many of these players, it wasn’t the first time they suffered a playoff exit in the most unbearable way possible. We all remember the epic 3-0 collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010. Actually, scratch that. Many New England residents probably have been drinking away that awful memory for the past three years.

Well, fear not Boston fans. There’s actually more than a few reasons why the Bruins could very well see themselves in a similar position this coming season. No need to make any Cup guarantees, as any hockey fan will tell you that jinxes are very real. However, here are five reasons to believe Boston can return to the Finals next year.

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Responding to a Bitter Defeat

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Jason O. Watson-USA TODAY Sports

If there’s any team in the past few years that knows how to use excruciating defeat as a motivator, it’s the Bruins.

Think about it: in 2010 they fell apart against the Flyers in historic fashion, only to follow it up the next year with a Stanley Cup Championship. The following season, they got bounced in the first round by the Washington Capitals. Embarrassing as it was, the Bruins responded with yet another Cup run this year.

It's hard to believe being two wins away from a dynasty only to have it stolen in the last seconds won’t be a huge chip on the team’s collective shoulder. Boston has to hope they can use it just as effectively as they did the last couple times around.

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The Addition of Loui Eriksson

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Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not going to get into the “is Eriksson better than Tyler Seguin” debates that seem to be running rampant on the Northeast coast. We won’t know the answer to that until the season starts.

What I will say is Eriksson’s addition makes one of the best lines in the league that much better. Most likely lining up with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, this line now becomes frightening on both ends of the ice.

Bergeron may be the best two-way forward in the NHL, and both he and Marchand can kill penalties while having the capability to post 20-plus goal seasons. So does Erikkson. His addition makes this line so astoundingly balanced, it could very well become the forwards every opponent hates to play against.

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Iggy

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Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire

Never underestimate the power of a storied veteran being thrown into a team’s mix.

It worked before, when future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi helped the Bruins win a Cup at the ripe age of 43. Now, the Bruins have signed Jarome Iginla (at a younger age of 36), another vet who will most likely end up in the Hall of Fame as well.

Yes, we know, Iginla blew off the Bruins last trade deadline. However, he was once again denied adding the first Stanley Cup ring to his storied career. He wants a Cup something awful, and that desire will definitely carry over into the Bruins locker room as well as on the ice.

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It's Tuukka Time

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Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire

From life behind Tim Thomas’ shadow to one of the best goalies in the league, Tuukka Rask finally got the money he’s worked so hard for. Now, he’ll get a chance to prove to the world he deserves it.

Long-term contracts for goalies are always scary. One need only look at Rick DiPietro to see what it looks like when multi-year deals backfire. However, Rask didn’t get his deal through one flash-in-the-pan season. Instead, he earned it through multiple years of solid GAA and save percentages, as well as a postseason campaign that would’ve ended with a Conn Smythe Trophy had the Bruins won the Cup.

Rask has long-since proven he deserves an elite starter’s salary, and with him in net, Boston can feel confident.

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Let’s Not Forget, Last Year Was Hardly Dominant for Boston

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Greg M. Cooper-US Presswire

Most importantly to remember: this is a Bruins team that looked like corpses on skates for a good chunk of the year last season. Leads were given away, funks were aplenty and “first round exit” was a common phrase thrown around the fan-base.

It was minutes away from coming true against Toronto, however, a comeback for the ages sent Boston into overdrive. And that’s just the thing, the next few rounds showed just how scary the Bruins are when everything is clicking.

The team knows this, too. The way in which their year ended should hammer in the fact that, if they can get to the Cup Finals with a so-so season, imagine what they can do if they consistently play to their full potential.

If this indeed happens, the Bruins can give themselves a chance to get the same Cup that was torn away from them at the last second.