It’s quite a great time to be a Boston sports fan currently. With the NBA and NHL playoffs right around the corner, it’s looking like the Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins are both among the favorites to walk away with some hardware this season. And based on what we have seen from both these teams this season, that seems like a fair expectation.
After making it to the NBA Finals last season, the C’s have come back this season and proved that their incredible turnaround last year wasn’t a fluke. For the B’s, they got the band back together for what could be their final Stanley Cup run with their current core group of veterans, and all they have done is win 61 games so far and rack up a staggering 127 points with four games left on the season.
Having one championship caliber team to follow is one thing, but right now, the city of Boston will get the privilege to watch two of the best teams in their respective sports put together what they are hoping will be a deep playoff run. And while both squads have accomplished a lot during the regular season, it’s clear that the stakes are about to be raised significantly, as it will be championship or bust from here on out.
It’s championship or bust for the Celtics and Bruins
The term championship or bust often gets overused, simply because fans want to see their respective teams win it all. But in actuality, many teams aren’t faced with championship or bust stakes. That isn’t the case for either the Celtics or Bruins this season, though, as both teams will face a significant amount of pressure to win a title this season.
For the Celtics, the reason for their increased pressure may not be as noticeable. On paper, they have a young core that should realistically be competing for championships for decades to come. But cracks may already be forming, and it’s worth wondering how long they will be able to keep their current squad together.
The most prominent crack in the armor is Jaylen Brown, although it’s really due to his status being murky rather than anything being set in stone. Brown has provided some interesting responses when asked about his future in Boston, and while he still has one year left on his current contract, there are concerns that he could try to force his way to a new team and win on his own rather than Jayson Tatum.
The best way to fix this potential issue is to win. If Brown does end up forcing his way off the team, it will be a much easier pill to swallow if a title has been won. The highlight of this era of Celtics basketball absolutely cannot be losing to the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals; this team needs to win a title. Whether or not the pressure is real or imaginary remains to be seen, but it still clearly exists.
For the Bruins, it’s a lot easier to see why it’s championship or bust. Boston has been blessed to be led by legends in Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Krejci for more than a decade now, but all they have to show for it is one Stanley Cup championship in their three appearances in Finals. This could be their final shot to add one more title to their ledger before Bergeron and Krejci decide to call it a career.
The ghosts of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final loss to the St. Louis Blues have hung around the Bruins as they struggled to build a true winner over the past few seasons. Losing Game 7 on home ice to a team that, on paper at least, Boston was better than was extremely tough to watch. Until this season, it seemed like that was going to be Boston’s final shot to win another Cup before they have to undergo a rebuild of sorts.
As if that wasn’t enough pressure to deal with, the Bruins have completely run riot throughout the regular season. They are two wins and six points away from setting the all-time record in both categories for a team in a single-season. Boston hasn’t just been the best team in the NHL this season; they have been one of the best teams in NHL history.
Now, they are going to have to carry that over to the playoffs, and that is likely going to be easier said than done. There are concerns about the “Presidents Trophy curse” or whether the Bruins have the pedigree needed to not actually win it all this season. But with the way they have been winning this season, they have provided quite a few reasons for optimism as well.
This isn’t saying that these teams need to win a title just because the Boston region’s recent title drought of three years (which is unprecedented in the 2000s) has gone on too long. No, the championship or bust mantra is a real weight that both teams will carry with them through the playoffs. Both the Celtics and Bruins have been great in the regular season, but now it’s time to find out whether or not they have what it takes to deliver when the stakes increase.
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