By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are heading to the Stanley Cup Final. It’s time to party in Boston.

But once that celebration dies down, the Bruins know that the real work will begin. As multiple members of the current roster can attest, merely getting to the Cup Final doesn’t mean anything if you don’t win it. A handful of current Bruins know firsthand how much better it is to actually finish the deal.

And, while the path to the Final thus far has been far from easy, there should be little doubt that the Bruins’ biggest challenge is yet to come. That’s due both to the stakes and the opponent.

No matter whether it’s the Sharks or the Blues that emerge from the West, the Bruins will have their hands full. Here’s how both the Blues and Sharks compare to the teams the Bruins have faced this postseason, both in terms of regular-season performance and postseason performance. The Bruins can be included in the categories, too, for comparative purposes.


Boston: 49-24-9, 107 points
San Jose: 46-27-9, 101 points
Toronto: 46-28-8, 100 points
Carolina: 46-29-7, 99 points
St. Louis: 45-28-9, 99 points
Columbus: 47-31-4, 98 points

San Jose: 3.52, 2nd
Toronto: 3.49, 4th
Boston: 3.13, 11th
Columbus: 3.12, 12th
St. Louis: 2.98, 15th
Carolina: 2.96, 16th

Boston: 2.59, 3rd
St. Louis: 2.68, 5th
Carolina: 2.70, 8th
Columbus: 2.82, 11th
Toronto: 3.04, 20th
San Jose: 3.15, 21st

Boston: 25.9%, 3rd
San Jose: 23.6%, 6th
Toronto: 21.8%, 8th
St. Louis: 21.1%, 10th
Carolina: 17.8%, 20th
Columbus: 15.4%, 28th

Columbus: 85%, 2nd
Carolina: 81.6%, 8th
St. Louis: 81.5%, 9th
San Jose: 80.8%, 15th
Boston: 79.9%, 16th
Toronto: 79.9%, 17th


Boston: 12-5
San Jose: 10-7
St. Louis: 9-6
Carolina: 8-7
Columbus: 6-4
Toronto: 3-4

Boston: 3.35
San Jose: 3.29
Columbus: 3.00
St. Louis: 2.81
Carolina: 2.60
Toronto: 2.43

Boston: 1.94
Columbus: 2.50
Carolina: 2.80
St. Louis: 2.88
San Jose: 3.18
Toronto: 3.29

Boston: 34%
Columbus: 25.8%
Toronto: 18.8%
San Jose: 18%
St. Louis: 16.7%
Carolina: 9.6%

Boston: 86.3%
Columbus: 84%
San Jose: 81.3%
St. Louis: 77.1%
Carolina: 68.6%
Toronto: 56.3%

The Bruins won both of their games against the Sharks this year, though both were classics in their own right. On Feb. 18 in San Jose, the Bruins took a 3-0 lead before Joe Thornton recorded a hat trick for the first time in nearly a decade. In overtime, after a net off its pegs negated a would-be Evander Kane breakaway, Charlie McAvoy blasted the game-winning goal to give Boston a 6-5 victory.

Eight days later, the Bruins fell behind at home 1-0 to the Sharks, before scoring four unanswered goals en route to a 4-1 win. Zdeno Chara fought Kane, Chris Wagner fought Barclay Goodrow, and David Backes fought Micheal Haley in what was a spirited affair.

The Sharks do appear to have a rabbit’s foot in their hockey pants this postseason, as they’ve taken advantage of a questionable call in Game 7 against the Golden Knights and more recently a missed hand pass on their overtime goal in Game 2 against the Blues.

And while the Bruins employ the league’s hottest goaltender, the Sharks employ the league’s hottest forward, as Logan Couture has scored 14 goals in 17 games played; teammate Tomas Hertl ranks second in the NHL with nine goals scored this postseason. Couture’s Six assists give him 20 points, which also leads the entire NHL postseason, two more than Brad Marchand’s 18 points.

Sharks defensemen Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns and forward Timo Meier are all tied for third in the NHL postseason with 15 points apiece. Boston’s David Pastrnak also has 15 points this postseason.

As for the Blues, they lost their first matchup against the Bruins on Jan. 17, before beating the Bruins in a shootout on a Saturday night in St. Louis on Feb. 23. Jake Allen was in net for the Blues in the 5-2 loss to Boston, while current goaltender Jordan Binnington was in net for the 2-1 shootout win. That shootout went six rounds, with Sammy Blais beating Tuukka Rask in that sixth round to win it for the home team.

Patrice Bergeron
Zdeno Chara
David Krejci
Torey Krug
Brad Marchand
Tuukka Rask

Patrice Bergeron
Zdeno Chara
David Krejci
Brad Marchand
Tuukka Rask (backup)
Steven Kampfer (did not play in postseason)

If there’s any sense of comfort for the Bruins, it can be found in the fatigue that’s likely to have set in on their next opponent, no matter which team advances. The Blues played in a six-game and a seven-game series before reaching the conference finals, while the Sharks were pushed to seven games in both of their series thus far. With the current series at 2-1, it also has the potential to go long.

The Bruins, meanwhile, will be resting and waiting. They know that come next week, what they’ve already accomplished will not matter anymore. Next week, the real work can begin.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.


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