It was the one thing you thought you could count on in these playoffs. The Boston Bruins were so much better than all the other teams in the Eastern Conference that a trip to the conference finals seemed like a formality.
As they were marching through the regular season, it was hard to even find a flaw. They were deep. They had a defenseman in Zdeno Chara who controls games. Tuukka Rask is as proven a goalie as there is in the league.
And yet, here we are. The Bruins are out, stunned by a 3-1 loss in Game 7 to the Montreal Canadiens.
What next? It shouldn’t be anything drastic, but considering this team advanced to the Stanley Cup finals last year then traded its best young player (Tyler Seguin), you can’t rule anything out, either.
Here’s a look at how GM Peter Chiarelli should spend his summer:
1. Bring back Jarome Iginla
When Iginla and the Pittsburgh Penguins were knocked out earlier than they wanted last spring, the result was a quiet divorce between the team and a player who some thought might finish his career in Pittsburgh following the trade deadline deal. The fit in Boston, however, was much better. The pace and physical style of play with the Bruins was more of a match for Iginla.
Iginla led the Bruins with five postseason goals, and during the regular season tied Patrice Bergeron for the most on the team, with 30 goals. The line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Iginla was the most productive trio in the NHL this season.
The interesting thing to watch will be the structure of his next deal. He signed a bonus-filled contract which allowed Boston to squeeze him in under the cap last season after it dropped. It was a brilliant move by Chiarelli to max out every possible inch of cap space, but those bonuses will be accounted for next season.