Bruins Advance to Stanley Cup Final, Await Sharks-Blues Series Winner

If the Sharks advance to the Stanley Cup Final, they'll be headed to Boston. That's because the Bruins completed an Eastern Conference finals sweep of the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

Boston shut out Carolina 4-0 in Game 4, sealing the Bruins' third appearance in the Final this decade and their first since 2010.

The Bruins will have home-ice advantage when they face the winner of the Western Conference final, thanks to their 49-24-9 (107 points) record in the regular season. Should the Sharks eliminate the St. Louis Blues, Joe Thornton will be shipping up to the city of his former team.

Boston drafted Thornton with the No. 1 overall pick in 1997. Thornton played 532 games for the Bruins, scoring 454 points (169 goals, 285 assists) before he was traded to the Sharks on Nov. 30, 2005.

Thornton's former teammates are long gone, but this means the former Bruins captain will have to beat his old team in order to win his first Stanley Cup. The Sharks still have to beat the Blues two more times, but they can take a commanding three-games-to-one lead in the best-of-seven series with a win in Game 4 on Friday night. 

[RELATED: DeBoer disagrees with notion Sharks have been "lucky"]

San Jose lost both of its matchups with Boston back in February. On Feb. 18, Thornton scored his first hat trick since 2010 in a 6-5 overtime loss to his old team. Eight days later, the Bruins dominated the Sharks to the tune of a 4-1 win. 

A lot has changed since then, but the Bruins will be the better-rested team than their Western Conference counterparts in the Cup Final. Like San Jose, Boston needed all seven games to beat a division rival (the Toronto Maple Leafs) in the first round. But, the Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the second round, and could have a long layoff headed into the Final.

But if Thornton and the Sharks advance to face them, they'll likely have plenty of things on their mind other than a lack of rest. 

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