Why the Bruins are going to win it all

Carl Soderberg has proved to be a vital part of the team's important third line, while Smith, who came over in the deal that sent Seguin to Dallas for Eriksson, has been a revelation with 21 goals and 51 points.

"I think when guys come in, they're trying to fit in based on what the core guys have been doing for a few years now," Bergeron told ESPN.com.

The results have been, needless to say, impressive.

Eriksson, in spite of injuries, is playing his best hockey of the season and is looking forward to his first playoff experience since 2008.

"For sure, it means a lot," Eriksson told ESPN The Magazine's Craig Custance. "I have a lot of good memories from the last one. That's where you want to be. You want to go in and try to win the Stanley Cup. We have a really good team here and we're in position for it."

The Bruins boast eight players with at least 15 goals (Krug has 14). They have not lost two games in a row in regulation since early January.

"I'm really happy with the consistency we've established as a team throughout the year," Bergeron said. "Obviously, I'm excited about the character that we have in the room."

Chiarelli is politely pleased to have been tabbed as our pre-tournament Cup winner. And he knows the buzz about the preponderance of contenders in the West, although he points out the Bruins have fared well against the big boys from the other side of the continent.

But if there is one thing about this Bruins team, it knows that all the mutterings and pronouncements and prognostications amount to, well, a hill of finely chopped beans.

"It's a little bit of white noise," Chiarelli noted charitably.

A year ago, the Bruins trailed Toronto 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7 in the first round and rallied to win that game and go all the way to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals, where they might have won had injuries not worn them down to the nub against Chicago.

In 2011, they trailed Montreal 2-0 in the first round, having lost the first two games at home, and then had to come up with a Nathan Horton goal in overtime in Game 7 to survive. They then had to outlast the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 in the conference finals and rebound from 2-0 and 3-2 series deficits to defeat the Vancouver Canucks for the Cup in 2011.

Last season, the Penguins had the top seed in the conference while the Bruins were second in the Northeast Division to Montreal.

Didn't matter, as the Bruins swept the Pens in the conference finals.

This year, the Bruins will own home ice throughout the playoffs after capturing the Presidents' Trophy as the league's top regular-season team. Again, that means something only if you're still around in the finals.

"Anything can happen," Chiarelli said.

And everyone in the Bruins' room is aware of the upsets that lurk, especially early in the tournament.

"They're aware of the pitfalls that can happen in the first round," he said.

Are there butterflies even in the wake of such a successful season?

"It's a new set of butterflies every year," Chiarelli said. "Doesn't matter whether you're favorites or underdogs."

And still, the Bruins are where they are, sitting atop the conference with all of the signposts pointing to a long playoff run, and in our collective minds, a second championship in four years.

Let us see.

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