In the second installment in a series looking at the Bruins previous Cup defenses, we look at the 1939-40 Bruins team. This was the first middle team of two instances in Bruins history where the Bruins won two out of three Stanley Cups.
As with their follow up season 10 years earlier, the Bruins finished the regular season with the league's best record behind the Kraut line of Milt Schmidt, Woody Dumart, and Bobby Bauer. The German-Canadians were 1-2-3 in the league in scoring (teammate Bill Cowley was tied for 4th) and goaltender Frank "Mr. Zero" Brimsek followed up his Vezina/Calder campaign of the year before with a sub 2.00 GAA. All time great defenseman Eddie Shore had retired prior to the season, only to be lured back and traded to the New York Americans after only 4 games. Dit Clapper also played a huge role on this team, only this time around, he was doing so at his original position of defense, being one of the rare athletes to garner all star recognition at two positions.
What Happened? In a product of the NHL's bizarre playoff structure of the time, the 1st place Bruins and 2nd place New York Rangers played each other in the semi-finals (the first playoff series for both). Vezina Trophy winning goaltender Dave Kerr would come up huge in this series for the eventual Cup winning Rangers. Kerr posted 3 shutouts in the 6 game series, and allowed just 1 goal in the Rangers 4 victories. The Kraut line was held to just 2 goals in the series after averaging more than a goal a game in the regular season. Bruins Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt was held pointless in the series.
How are this year's Bruins similar? The similarities continue with goaltending, more specifically in this case, American born goaltenders, coming off Vezina Trophy winning seasons, as well as two strong forward lines.
How are this year's Bruins different? The differences continue here as well. The 1939-40 Bruins team featured two excellent established two way defensemen in Flash Hollett and Clapper, while the Chara's defensive supporting cast features a lot of solid, but nothing in the way of great.