A ‘Deep’ Playoff Run By The Bruins Would Fly In The Face Of Recent History

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is not adjusting his expectations for the team after the team missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs the past two seasons. The expectation for the 2016-17 season is not just to make it back to postseason hockey but make a legitimate run at the Stanley Cup.

“I share the expectations with everybody here that we’ll be in the playoffs, and I expect that we’ll go deep into the playoffs,” Jacobs told reporters at Bruins Media Day on Tuesday. “I think this is a very good mix of young and older, experienced players. I’m looking forward to their going into the playoff season.”

Jacobs’ level of expectation is not in itself a problem. The Bruins should expect to go deep in the playoffs every year, as long as they have this current core of players. The problem with Jacobs’ comments is that recent history has not been kind to NHL teams in the Bruins’ situation.

For the purpose of this analysis, let’s define “deep into the playoffs” as a berth in the Conference Finals. The Bruins haven’t made it that far in the playoffs since 2013 when they made the Stanley Cup Finals.

Coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins watches his team in action against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 28, 2013. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Coach Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins watches his team in action against the Carolina Hurricanes on January 28, 2013. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

If the Bruins make the Eastern Conference Finals in 2017, they will be the first team since the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011 to make it there after missing the playoffs in the previous two or more seasons. The Lightning missed the playoffs from 2008-2010 before making the leap to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2011 where, coincidentally, they lost to the Bruins.

Eighteen out of the last 20 teams to make the final four of the Stanley Cup Playoffs made the playoffs the previous season. That includes the 2013 Bruins, who lost in the first round to the Washington Capitals in 2012. The San Jose Sharks made last season’s Stanley Cup Finals after finishing 12th in the Western Conference in 2015, while the 2012 New Jersey Devils made the Stanley Cup Finals after finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference in 2011.

One major similarity between San Jose in 2016 and New Jersey in 2012 is that they made coaching changes after missing the playoffs in the previous seasons. Incredibly, both teams named Peter DeBoer head coach to make the turn-around. The Bruins, of course, did not make a head coaching change in the offseason, as Claude Julien will begin his 10th season at the helm on Thursday at Columbus.

Is it possible that the Bruins could make a similar leap to that of San Jose and New Jersey in 2017? Sure. Comparing these teams to each other is inherently an apples-to-oranges comparison. But based on the recent history of teams that went on deep playoff runs, it’s not probable. The Bruins would be a major outlier.

Whether or not you believe Julien deserved to lose his job for the Bruins’ performance the past two seasons, the team will need to buck some ominous trends to make it as far as the Conference Finals after how the last two years went for them. The Bruins obviously feel that they’ve made enough changes on the roster to turn things around. If they don’t, and it’s a third straight season missing the playoffs, Jacobs will probably turn his attention to the men behind the bench.

The Bruins front office has high expectations for the team and the players have high expectations for themselves, as they should. But based on the recent performance of other conference finalists, the chances of a “deep playoff run” in 2017 are ominously low.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.


One Comment

  1. Bruins Organizational Goal: Just be good enough to be the eighth best team.

  2. hammerhead says:

    and the PROBLEM speaks, the problem being Jacobs! this man single handily is the reason why this team was only able to win one fluke cup in over 40 years! JJ knows that regardless of what poor product he puts on the ice the bruins faithful will always show up to buy his tickets and hotdogs and beer and that’s all that matters! for decades he spent as an expansion team, we had to watch the beloved Ray Bourque leave to an expansion in order to win a cup, then JJ championed for the cap it should be named after him! this team will not see another cup for at least 40 years, letting buffoons run the team and squander away future hall-of-famers

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