Last Word On Hockey brings our Team of the Decade series. We will dive into the best player at each position this decade for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments of the decade. Here is the Boston Bruins decade lineup.
Boston Bruins Decade Team
Since 2010, the Boston Bruins have been one of the most consistently dominant teams in the NHL. They have qualified for the playoffs in every season except for two years from 2014 to 2016. In the last decade, the franchise has seen incredible success, reaching the Stanley Cup Finals three times. While there is only one title to show for it from 2011, the level of consistency they have displayed is unmatched.
Here is a breakdown by their position of the best players to don the spoked B over the last decade.
Centre: Patrice Bergeron
No one else is fit to be named the best centre for the Boston Bruins over the last decade. Patrice Bergeron has been arguably not just the best centre, but the best player in Boston. He is not only an extremely capable scorer, but he plays a defensive game that is nearly unmatched amongst forwards.
The former 45th overall pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft surprised a lot of people when he made the NHL roster in his first professional season. He has since proved he belongs in the NHL. The four-time Selke Trophy winner is in the conversation as the best two-way player of a generation. He has been a core piece of what has made Boston successful over the last 10 years.
One thing that cannot be questioned is Bergeron’s dedication to this franchise. He has done more than just put his body on the line to win. In the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, Bergeron played through a separated shoulder, torn cartilage, and a punctured lung. While they lost Game 6 of that series tragically, Bergeron never skipped a beat. Never once did he even admit he played through the injuries until the series was over.
The most important thing Bergeron has done in his time as a Bruin has been as a mentor. Many of Boston’s top players have had the pleasure of playing alongside him. He has been a guiding force in the careers of many different players. He is a leader in the locker room and has played an integral role in building an incredibly positive culture. Bergeron is not only one of the best talents but leads by example. His role cannot be understated.
Left-Wing: Brad Marchand
Tiny Ball of Hate, the Rat, Agitator. All of those are suitable titles for Brad Marchand. If nothing else, he knows how to get under his opponent’s skin. He has been the subject of numerous dirty plays over his career. Nearly everyone who is not a Bruins fan hates Marchand with a passion for his antics on the ice. Even though Leo Komarov doesn’t want to be licked again, there are bigger concerns when Marchand is on the ice.
While Marchands on-ice character has been called into question numerous times, no one questions it outside of the rink. The man is the ultimate competitor but is a class act when it comes to being an example for younger players to follow. One of Marchand’s recent acts was to contribute to a GoFundMe for TD Garden workers that owner Jeremy Jacobs has refused to pay during the break.
Marchand is one of the shorter players in the NHL. With a 5’9” frame, he has used his speed and stickhandling skills to dominate the NHL. It may have taken him some time to finally break out and play like an All-Star, but he is doing it. With four straight campaigns of at least 85 points, he has proven he belongs on the Perfection Line. No one does it as he can.
What truly stands out is Marchand’s passing ability. Although he is a capable scorer, he has shown unprecedented skill at getting the puck to his teammates. Some teams will double team him on the rush and he will still find a way to slide that puck over to Bergeron in the middle. Providing his team with those kinds of top-notch scoring chances is what makes him a special part of this franchise.
Right-Wing: David Pastrnak
Boston’s recent youth movement needed a face. David Pastrnak has emerged as the best of a group of talented young hockey players in black and gold. His scoring ability is unmatched and he has been unstoppable in recent seasons. Early in his career, there were questions on if he could achieve elite level scoring. He was talented yes, but could he be among the best? Consider his recent play your answer.
Even though Pastrnak is young and still has plenty of years left in the NHL, he truly took this team to the next level. Of all the right-wings that have played in Boston in recent memory, Pasta is better than all of them. There is no question that he possesses the ability and flair to make it in a league that would eat most people alive.
His career started slowly. A pair of 20 point campaigns in his first two seasons of NHL play had some doubting his ability to play at the next level. Pastrnak’s offensive game exploded in his third year with a whopping 70 points. Everyone who may have doubted him has now been proven wrong. He was a frontrunner for the goal-scoring title before play was suspended and it appears he will be a contender for it every year.
The next step in his career may be his most difficult one yet. As a star in Boston, you are expected to be a leader as well. Granted he is young so it is not expected of him yet, but can he step up. Players like Patrice Bergeron will be long gone by the time Pastrnak decides to hang up the skates. He will need to learn from what he sees and take that next step to be a leader in Boston.
Left-Defence: Zdeno Chara
The captain has to make the cut, right? He certainly does when he leads his franchise to not one, not two, but three Stanley Cup Finals. As the tallest player in NHL history, the 6’9” beast of a human being known as Zdeno Chara is one of the best defenders in the NHL. His sheer size allows him to bully nearly anyone who would approach him and bring a physicality that no one can match.
The first thing that has to be said about Chara besides his size, is his character and work ethic. Chara is like Bergeron in that he always brings a team-first attitude. He has been a mentor to many young defensemen like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo. Chara has also played through injury. A broken jaw would not stop him from playing in the Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues.
While Chara is known as a stay-at-home defenceman first and foremost, that does not mean his offensive game was lacking. He eclipsed the 40 point mark three times in the last decade and has proven himself to be a threat at both ends of the ice. He might not be the best goal scorer, but his ability to find the open man has made him successful.
Chara’s incredibly long career has come thanks to his work ethic. No one works harder than he does. He is always in the gym, working on improving his game. Chara understands better than anyone that the competition is only going to get more difficult. His dedication to improving himself is unmatched and shows why he is truly one of the best to wear a Bruins sweater this decade.
Right-Defence: Johnny Boychuk
Boston has not had one right-shot defenceman that has been as good as Johnny Boychuk was. Although his career got off to a slow start, with several seasons in the AHL, Boychuk was an integral part of Boston’s championship run in 2011. While his best offensive days were after leaving Massachusetts, his ability to shut down opposing players was greater than anyone else.
Just two years removed from the Stanley Cup title, Boychuk helped propel Boston to their second appearance in the Finals this decade. They would face the Chicago Blackhawks and ultimately lose in six games. Boychuk was an integral part of the defensive core. They were able to shut down the dynamic offence of the Pittsburgh Penguins and allow just two goals in the entire series.
Boychuk continued to bring lockdown defence through the end of the 2014 season. He was traded to the New York Islanders in exchange for a pair of second-round draft selections. Although he was unable to stay with the team, he still helped Boston improve. One of those selections was Brandon Carlo, one of the young defencemen who has helped continue the Bruins trend of success.
Goalie: Tuukka Rask
How does the title of “Goalie with the Most Wins in Franchise History” sound? Tuukka Rask claimed that title this season as well as eclipsing the 500 games played mark. His 291 career wins have made Boston what they are today, a dominant force across the NHL. Add in a Vezina trophy and you have what is one of the best goalies of all time.
The knock on Tuukka is that he can’t win the big games. For now, that is an indisputable fact as he has not won a championship as a starter with two opportunities to win one. That said, Tuukka’s numbers have been off the charts in several playoff runs. Twice in his career, he has averaged less than two goals against per game, and last season was just over the mark at 2.02 goals against. Any goaltender with a .927 save percentage is plenty good enough in my book.
Many Bruins fans have and will continue to grow up knowing nothing but Tuukka Rask in the net. He still has time to prove people wrong and show everyone he can win a championship. Elite play from a goaltender can be hard to find and Rask has shown that he is among the best of the best.
Torey Krug has been masterful at running Boston’s powerplay since breaking into the NHL in the 2013 playoff run. Dennis Seidenberg locked down the defensive end against the toughest competition. Milan Lucic was an incredible part of Boston’s forward group for a championship roster. All three of these players had incredible success in Boston. Although they are not a part of the official Team of the Decade roster, they deserve to be remembered by Boston fans everywhere.
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