BOSTON — Clearly, there have been some long, dreary Memorial Day Weekends for Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs.
This is not one of them.
After the past four seasons ended with two losses in the second round, one in the first and another in which the postseason was missed altogether, Jacobs’ crew, for a change, is in the midst of a rewarding run to the Stanley Cup final. On Wednesday, the Bruins will meet the Vancouver Canucks in Game 1 after impressive victories over Montreal, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
“I think that (GM) Peter (Chiarelli) has put together a dream team, his dream, and as he saw it within the parameters that they have to work,” Jacobs said on Sunday. “I think (president) Cam (Neely) has shown great understanding of hockey. And this is a great city to play hockey in.”
This will be the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup final appearance since 1990. Vancouver hasn’t made it this far since 1994.
“I think I’m very lucky to have the leadership, both on the ice and in the back of the house, so to speak,” Jacobs said. “I can’t speak enough for the total organization and how it’s moved forward. I’m just so proud of what they’ve achieved.”
It wasn’t easy. Even though goaltender Tim Thomas has two shutouts and an impressive 2.29 goals-against average, and David Krejci and Nathan Horton each have 17 points through three rounds, the Bruins still had to play 18 games to get here. Wrapped around a surprisingly thorough four-game sweep of the Flyers in Round 2, were two emotionally draining seven-game series vs. the Canadiens and Lightning.
Round 3 ended with a classic 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night, in front of a charged home crowd.
“I think it was disciplined hockey at its best. You had to dig deep,” Jacobs said. “And I thought it was great hockey. This city thought it was great hockey. That’s more important than anything — that the fans came out the way they did, and that they responded the way they did. I couldn’t have been more pleased with it.”
And keep in mind, the Bruins — in a sports town that is quick to push the panic button — opened the playoffs by dropping the first two games at home to Montreal.
Boston is 12-4 since.
“I was disappointed we were down 2-0. I had a lot of confidence in our team, but I have to tell you — when you’re down 2-0 — you’ve got to be concerned about whether or not you can pull that off,” Jacobs said. “And to go into Montreal, and win the next two, well, that was very refreshing.”
The Bruins will journey back into Canada on Monday after a practice in Boston. The Canucks, who defeated Chicago, Nashville and San Jose to win the West, haven’t played since last Tuesday, when they defeated the Sharks 3-2 in Game 5 of the conference finals.
Vancouver led the NHL with 117 points this season, 10 more than any other team. After a tougher-than-expected first round, in which they needed overtime of Game 7 to dispose of the Blackhawks, the Canucks have found their groove, dispatching the Predators and Sharks in six and five games, respectively.
In the regular season, the Bruins defeated the Canucks in Vancouver 3-1 on Feb. 26. Vancouver native Milan Lucic scored the go-ahead goal on a rebound with 4:38 left, and Thomas made 26 saves.
“Our ambition is to go and win the Stanley Cup,” Jacobs said. “There is a common bond now that exists between everybody. You’ve really built an organization, and I say a hockey organization, a player organization. The athletes are all committed to a central point, and that is a wonderful thing to see and a wonderful place to be.”
And it’s now up to coach Claude Julien to temper the enthusiasm, and keep the team’s eyes on the prize.
“I think they’re obviously handling it very well. We’re obviously excited to be here,” Julien said. “This is a position that we’ve wanted to be in since the beginning of the year. Having said that, I think we’re also aware of what has to be done for us to make it even better. And we’re really doing a good job of staying focused, and doing the things that we have to do here to prepare.”
Julien spoke to the media after Jacobs addressed his team on Sunday.
“I think it meant a lot. I was happy that he did take the time to speak to our team. We don’t see him much during the regular season,” Julien said. “He comes and watches games, but he certainly is not one of those owners that will interfere and then come down much. So, that’s his personality and it’s his style, and we respect that. But when he does come in, like he did today and address the team, everybody was happy to hear from him.”