The 2011-2012 Boston Bruins will attempt to do something they've yet to do in their storied franchises history and that's to successfully defend a Stanley Cup Championship. Five times prior they've attempted and each time they've come up short. Over the next week, we'll take a look at each of those teams, why they failed to repeat, what do they have in common with this year's team, and what is different.
The first team up is the 1929-1930 Boston Bruins. The 1930 team was somewhat surprisingly the only team that even manged to return to the Cup Finals. Led by 3 players whose numbers now reside in the rafters at TD Garden (Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, and Lionel Hitchman) and Vezina Trophy winner Tiny Thompson, the Bruins set a record for regular season winning percentage (.875) that still stands to this day and didn't lose back to back games at any point in the regular season. The introduction of the forward passing within the offensive zone allowed the Bruins to set three offensive records, most goals for a team (179), most goals by a forward line (102, the Dynamite Line of Clapper, Cooney Weiland, and Dutch Gainor), and most points (73, Weiland). They carried out record winning streaks of 14 games overall (3rd all time) and 20 games at home (still stands). If there was ever a Bruins team that should have repeated, this was probably it, given their regular season dominance, elite goaltending, and the fact there were only 10 teams in the NHL at the time.
What Happened? In something that would repeat itself with the other "Best Chance" team, a Montreal Canadiens goaltender got in the way. Habs goalie George Hainsworth shut down the high powered Bruins offense. Shutting them out in Game 1 of the Finals, and allowing only 3 goals total in the 2 game sweep. The result prompted the Stanley Cup Finals to become a best of 5 affair in years following.
How are this year's Bruins similar? Both teams featured Vezina caliber goaltending right up to the eerie similarity in name structure between Tiny Thompson and Tim Thomas. They also feature an elite all around defenseman (Zdeno Chara - Eddie Shore).
How are this year's Bruins different? The 1929-30 team had perhaps the best forward line in the league, where the 2011-2012 version is deeper, but without the elite forward talent. The 1929-30 team also had a second elite defender (Hitchman), which the Bruins do not feature.