RALEIGH, N.C. — The Boston Bruins have earned a break before their biggest series in six years.

Their sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals has afforded them a few extra days to rest up before their first Stanley Cup finals appearance since 2013.

So they can sit back, let their bumps and bruises heal – especially the ones that kept 42-year-old captain Zdeno Chara out of the series clincher – and watch the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues beat each other up a few more times.

“I think as you get older, you appreciate it even more, and you realize how hard it is to get to this point and advance and be thankful and stay in the moment,” forward Patrice Bergeron said. “But then it’s back to work, and there’s a lot of work in front of us.”

The Bruins won’t spend the break worrying about losing the momentum of their longest postseason winning streak in nearly half a century. No team that has swept its opponent from these playoffs has won its next series.

The Bruins polished off their sweep Thursday night, beating Carolina 4-0 for their seventh straight postseason win – their longest streak since they reeled off nine straight wins in 1972.

Now, after seven wins in 15 nights, they have the luxury of taking a deep breath before they play for the Cup.

A handful of veterans – Chara, Bergeron, goalie Tuukka Rask and forwards Brad Marchand and David Krejci – won it in 2011 but lost to Chicago in the finals two years later.

“We’ve basically kind of grew up together,” Bergeron said. “It’s been a fun ride to be a part (of) with these guys as the core group. The leaders have been through a lot, I guess, ups and downs, and … you realize how hard it is to get to this point, so you’ve got to be thankful for that.”

The Bruins found a way to sidestep the run of first-round upsets that knocked out all four division winners, though they needed seven games to get past Toronto.

They found their stride in their second-round series against Columbus, advancing in six games by winning the final three. And once they got rolling, Carolina was powerless to stop them.

Boston was the quicker, stronger and tougher team – and it helped that they had the best goalie. With Rask stopping 109 of the 114 shots he faced, the Bruins trailed in only Game 1.

“I don’t think the break will hurt him, other than you lose some of your sharpness of game intensity,” Coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I just see Tuukka not only as a goalie but as a person, as a really zoned-in guy right now. Really even-keeled. I don’t see why that would change in a week. … I assume he’ll come out of it very well. He’s played a lot of hockey, too. The break will do him some good.”

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