BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins came within two minutes of forcing a seventh game in the Stanley Cup finals. Now they must wait nearly seven months until the next postseason.
So close. And, now, so far away.
"It's got to be a fresh start," coach Claude Julien said. "When you win the Cup, you've got to turn the page and say, 'We've got to do it all over again.' That doesn't change when you lose in the finals. We've got to turn the page and create ourselves another opportunity."
With the core returning and several key additions, the Bruins should reach the playoffs for the seventh straight season. And they took steps to secure their long-term future by signing center Patrice Bergeron and goalie Tuukka Rask to eight-year contracts and general manager Peter Chiarelli to a four-year extension.
"We want to compete for the Stanley Cup every year," Chiarelli said. "And it's my mandate, my charge, to do that."
The Bruins made a strong run in last season's finals as they went after their second championship in three years. They led Chicago 2-1 in Game 6, then allowed two goals in the last 76 seconds and the Blackhawks won, 3-2, to take the Cup.
Boston finished 11th in goals scored, then lost first-line right wing Nathan Horton to free agency and traded right wing Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars. But they replaced them with two accomplished scorers, signing Jarome Iginla as a free agent and obtaining Loui Eriksson in the Dallas deal.
"It's important every once in a while to get some fresh faces in," Julien said, "and continue to create that excitement of being competitive and wanting to win every year."
Here are five things to watch as the Bruins prepare for their opener Oct. 3 vs. Tampa Bay:
CLAUDE'S CLUB: Julien has led the Bruins to the playoffs in each of his six seasons, repeatedly quieting talk that his job security is shaky. He is the third longest tenured coach in the NHL. Genial and reluctant to grab the spotlight, he has led Boston's disciplined style and won 62.7 percent of his regular-season games with Boston.
"He came off of being fired twice and there were a lot of questions about him," Chiarelli said. "So, obviously, I knew what he was like — receptive to things so he could evolve with the rest of us."
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