How the Boston Bruins get back to the Stanley Cup Final

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As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention, we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.

How the season ended

This was a team that rolled through two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs with a ruthless efficiency after getting sent to the brink in the first round by the Toronto Maple Leafs. They needed six games to eliminate the Columbus Blue Jackets, who eliminated the Tampa Bay Lightning in four. They needed four games to oust the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference finals. They were rolling four lines and Tuukka Rask was impenetrable. The Bruins won their third Eastern Conference title since 2011.

So what went wrong in completing their mission against the St. Louis Blues? It's more a matter of what went right for their opponents. The Blues' ability to handle adversity -- steadying their ship after a 7-2 thrashing at home in Game 3 -- helped. Their physicality, wearing down opponents to the tune of an 8-2 record after Game 4s in each series, was key in winning the 5-on-5 battle. And, yeah, they got a little lucky in that missed tripping call on the game-winning goal of Game 5, where the series took a turn for the Bruins. And after a dominant 5-1 win in St. Louis to force a Game 7, the Bruins were stymied by Jordan Binnington in the final showdown.

Of course, had their heralded top line and second-line center produced more at even strength, this would have been a different series. But that was also a case where the Blues deserve kudos.

So has the window closed for the Bruins after this run? Not quite.