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April 16, 2014 | 10:24am ET
Bruins are focusing on the future
By Shawn Hutcheon, TheFourthPeriod.com

BOSTON, MA -- The 2013-14 regular-season is in the history books. The Boston Bruins ended the season as the NHL's President's Trophy winner for having the best record (54-19-9) after all 82 games and none of it matters.

The Bruins saw their leading scorer, David Krejci, place 23rd in league scoring with 69 points on 19 goals and 50 assists. The team's leading goal scorers, Patrice Bergeron (30) and Jarome Iginla (30) finished 17th and 19th, respectively, among goal-scorers in the circuit and they will tell you, it does not matter.

In the plus/minus category, Boston owned 10 of the top 30 spots in the NHL and none of it matters.

In the crease, Tuukka Rask ended the year 36-15-6. Those 36 wins were fifth-best in the league. He finished second with a .930 save percentage, fourth with a 2.04 goals against average, and first in shutouts with seven... and none of it matters.

Sure, those are impressive statistics. Some may even garner post-season awards, but none of it matters because it is time to prepare for the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a large part of that preparation is focusing on the future.

Leave the regular-season behind and move forward.

After all, that's what the Boston Bruins are all about.

Whether they win or lose a "big" game, the players and coaches, for the most part, exhibit the same demeanor after each. While the fan lives and dies with each game, the team turns the page quickly after each contest and the focus becomes finding the best ways to improve the team by the time the puck drops for the next game.

"We try to keep an even keel," Chris Kelly answered when asked how the team handles wins and loses. "We don't get too high after a win and we don't get too low after a loss. When it's over, we begin focusing on the next one."

Now that the playoffs are upon us, the best team in the East, West, North and South has put its record and statistics in the rear view mirror and will focus on the Detroit Red Wings for the next four to seven games.

For weeks, Boston fans have been lamenting that this would be the first round matchup.

On the streets and radio, you hear talk of Detroit's playoff experience and how successful the Wings are from year to year.

Detroit is in the post-season for the 23rd consecutive year. A feat that is to be admired because it is rare in any sport but the fact is, since winning the Stanley Cup in 2008, the Red Wings have not advanced past the second round of the playoffs.

The Bruins, in case you missed it, have been to the Stanley Cup Final two of the last three years, winning the Cup in 2011.

As for the "experience" factor, Detroit has eight players remaining from their '08 Stanley Cup winner. In comparison, Boston has 13 members of the 2011 championship squad still wearing Black and Gold.

Fun facts, but when comparing the two clubs, we must look at nothing other than the 2013-2014 versions.

Detroit's leading scorers entering into the series are Daniel Alfredsson and Niklas Kronwall, who amassed 49 points, each. Gustav Nyquist scored 28 goals to pace his club while Henrik Zetterberg led the Wings with a plus-19.

Jimmy Howard is Detroit's No.1 goaltender. His 21-19-11 record, .910 save percentage, and 2.66 goals against average is an anomaly. Howard has been an elite puckstopper during his eight-year career, all with the Wings, however, he has battled a series of injuries over the last two seasons that may or may not have effected his play.

Obviously, on paper, this series should be a slam dunk for Boston, but Detroit is a club that values puck possession. The Red Wings have the speed to successfully execute a dump and chase game but they only do that as a last resort.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara explained what it is like to play against Detroit.

"They like to keep the puck in the neutral zone and continuously regroup until they get you out of position then they'll attack your zone with that speed that they have," Chara said.

When I suggested to Chara that Detroit's game was akin to that of the old Soviet style, he answered, "Yeah, that's right."

Of course, Boston coach Claude Julien preaches the same puck possession game. The Bruins, however, will revert to the dump and run game from time to time and that keeps opponents off balance.

Overall, offensively, Boston's four lines are more balanced than Detroit's. The Wings have two lines that can score. The Bruins have four and with a third line of Carl Soderberg, Chris Kelly and Loui Eriksson accounting for a total of 35 lamplighters, they are a threat shift to shift never mind game to game. Give the advantage to Boston in this department.

Defensively, the Bruins have eight defensemen that are mobile skaters, who can handle the puck and make a smart and accurate first pass to the forwards for clean break outs of the defensive zone. They can also add the occasional goal as the group amassed 49 markers this season. Once again, the advantage goes to the Bruins.

In goal, it will be Rask versus Howard. As mentioned, Howard was an elite netminder but according to most, Rask may have his name engraved on this year's Vezina Trophy already.

Of course, what this series, and all playoff series come down to, is execution. The team that plays its game best will win.

You will hear hockey players say, "It's shift to shift at this point," and that is how the games should be. If a player has a bad shift, he goes to the bench, puts it behind him, and prepares for the next one. Conversely, if he has a good shift, he does the exact same on the bench and prepares to have an even better shift the next time he steps on the ice.

The past does not matter. The only concern is to be better each and every shift. The team that does that will win the series.

It says here Boston will do that and defeat Detroit in six games.

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.


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