BOSTON — Cam Neely says the Bruins are still set up to contend for the Stanley Cup for years to come.
Speaking at a news conference a week after Boston was eliminated from the playoffs by archrival Montreal, the Bruins’ president noted that most of the roster is made up of young but experienced players – aside from 37-year-old Zdeno Chara.
“And Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game,” Neely said. “So I still think we’re in our window. We just have to recognize what we need to do to make our team better, whether it’s guys playing better or whether we’re adding different players.”
The core of the current team, led by Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand, won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and lost in the Stanley Cup finals to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games in 2013.
This season, they went 54-19-9 and won the Presidents’ Trophy with the best regular-season record.
In March, the Bruins had a 12-game winning streak and a 16-game point streak that helped them soar to the top of the standings. They did not lose more than two games in a row all season. Against the Canadiens, however, the Bruins came up short despite grabbing a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series.
“I think when you have the regular season that we had, especially that stretch from March into April, that wasn’t luck,” Neely said. “We were a good team. And we still feel we have a good team and maybe need a few tweaks.”
The Bruins have two key players, forwards Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton, scheduled to become unrestricted free agents July 1.
KINGS-BLACKHAWKS: Chicago and Los Angeles have taken similar paths toward the top, hitting big in the draft and making shrewd moves.
They find themselves trying to knock each other out in the Western Conference finals for the second straight year.
The Blackhawks prevailed last year on their way to the Stanley Cup, and they have the early lead this time after taking the opener, 3-1. They will try to go up 2-0 when the best-of-seven series resumes Wednesday night in Chicago.