When the Boston Bruins face the Pittsburgh Penguins Saturday in the Eastern Conference finals, they will be trying to win the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years. The final four teams of the 2013 season are the four powerhouses of the NHL, with the Penguins, Blackhawks, Bruins, and Kings being the last four teams to win the Stanley Cup.
Getting to this level of excellence has not been easy, with heartbreaking playoff exits, draft picks that didn’t pan out, and losing players to injury, but it has also had a lot of fun times along the way. I thought I would take some time and list 10 of my favorites from the time Peter Chiarelli took over as General Manager in 2006, and see if they helped the Bruins become the contender they are today.
(Note: I’ve been made aware the rest of this post doesn’t display well in the Mobile App due to the embedded videos, you might want to view it on the website!)
#10 – 2008, Round 1, Game 6 vs Montreal.
This is the game that woke up the fans. The Bruins had limped into the playoffs, while the Habs had won 8 of their last 11. Montreal was the top seed in the East, and expected to roll over the Bruins. And nobody could blame them for thinking that, they were riding an 11 game winning streak against Boston spanning a season and a half. When the series went 3-1 in favor of the Canadiens, most Boston fans were ready to write the season off and start debating potential off-season changes. But Boston won game 5, setting up a classic game 6 at home. Not wanting to watch Montreal dance on their home ice, they put in a gritty, spirited game that saw them come back three times from 1 goal deficits, blow a 1 goal lead, and score the winning goal late in the game. While they eventually put up a dud in game 7 and lost the series, the way they battled back from a 3-1 deficit to force a game 7, and the way they never gave up in game 6, and the relentless pounding they put on the Canadiens established the Bruins’s identity. It won back the hearts of the Boston faithful and created a buzz in Boston unseen since the Neely/Oates teams of the early 1990’s. It officially ushered in a new era in Boston: the Bruins were back, and they were here to stay.
#9 Lucic vs Komisarek 11/13/08
The Bruins had lost 12 regular season games in a row to the rival Canadiens. That spanned part of 2006-7, ALL of 2007-8, and the first game of 2008-9. The Bruins were still feeling the letdown of coming back from being down 3 games to one and forcing a game 7 the previous year, just to choke when it mattered most. There comes a time that the monkey has to come off of the back, and that day came on November 13th, 2008. The Bruins came out flying, scoring early in the first before adding two more in the last 3 minutes of the frame. After exchanging goals in the second, they added another in the third to make it 5-1. Mike Komisarek chased after Milan Lucic to engage him in a fight. Whether it was to try and take the luster off the win, cool off the roaring crowd, or settle old scores is unknown, but we do know it was ill-advised:
The Bruins went on to score another goal, win the game, and followed it with 8 more consecutive wins over the Habs, including sweeping them in the first round of the 2009 playoffs
#8 Brawl vs Habs 2/9/11
Bruins+Habs+Brawl=No further description necessary
#7 Comeback vs Penguins 2/11/11
Hockey is more than just shots and goals. In order to win the Stanley Cup, you need mental fortitude, optimism, control of your emotions, and confidence to know that you, as a team, can still win when things don’t look good. The Bruins had a very good team in 2010-11, but they had mostly the same team when they lost in stunning fashion during the playoffs the year before to the Flyers. So a comeback win can mean more than just two points. It’s proving to each other that you can do it, lessons that would come into play for the next several years for the Bruins. The Bruins were down 2-0 and having shown little life in the game when Chara wound up for a slapshot with just 3:23 left in the third. It was just 12 seconds later that he watched from the bench as Marchand tied the game. With Pittsburgh trying to stave off Boston’s momentum until overtime, Alex Goligosky took an interference penalty, and the Bruins took the lead with a power play goal. They even added an insurance goal with an empty netter to seal the victory.
#6 Two goals scored with goalie pulled, vs Rangers 2/12/13
This is a game that was exciting, but most importantly was a teaching moment for a huge comeback the Bruins would pull later, in the playoffs. With the Bruins down 3-0 with 9 minutes left in the third, the Bruins started an improbable comeback against the Rangers. Krejci scored with 8:44 left, but the Rangers didn’t give up anything else even strength. With just under two minutes left, Claude Julien pulled Tuukka Rask for the extra attacker. The Bruins quickly scored to make it 3-2 with 1:31 left. Marchand scored with only 42 seconds left to tie it, prompting Jack Edwards to lose his shit:
The Bruins eventually fell to the Rangers in the shootout, but they knew that if they were down my 3 goals with 10 minutes left in the game, they weren’t out of it. And if they were down by 2 goals with 90 seconds left and pulled the goaltender for the extra attacker, they still weren’t out of it. Lessons learned, and gloriously applied in the 2013 playoffs.
#5 – Three Fights in 4 seconds, followed by 2 goals in 45 seconds 2/3/11 vs Stars
Nobody saw what was coming in the Bruin’s second game of February of 2011. The team was rolling along, and while past games vs the Stars had been very physical, it didn’t have the feel of any sort of grudge match. So imagine our surprise:
While fights off the face-off aren’t uncommon (Gregory Campbell wasn’t happy after a previous meeting with Ott) it is a tool to settle disputes without having too much impact on the game. But this many fights, and the absolute poundings Thornton and McQuaid handed out, followed by 2 goals immediately afterward was unheard of. And obviously something the Bruins fans enjoyed very, very much.
#4 – Three Shorthanded Goals on one Penalty Kill. 4/10/10 vs Carolina
The 2010 Bruins were not known for their scoring. In fact, when the Bruins and Hurricanes faced off in early April, they were dead last in the league in scoring. Due to the team’s shutdown defensive system, the general lack of teams scoring on the Bruins kept them in the playoff hunt, and with a win over the Hurricanes they would clinch a playoff spot for the third consecutive year. In this game, it was a tense 0-0 tie when Matt Hunwick took a hooking penalty with 18 seconds left in the first period. With no real scoring chances, the period came to a close, and the ‘Canes started the second period with 1:42 of power play time on a clean sheet of ice. But then this happened:
By the time Hunwick left the penalty box, the Bruins were leading 3-0, and had established themselves in the history book with a record that could very well never be broken.
#3 Horton’s Game 7 OT Winner vs Montreal 2011
This time Game 7 was at home. After losing games 1 and 2 and getting booed of home ice, the Bruins went to Montreal and stunningly won games 3 & 4. In his first career playoff series, Nathan Horton won game 5 in double overtime in Boston, scoring a goal that he called “the biggest goal of my life”. (Well, so far, Nate, so far). Bruins lost game 6 in Montreal to set up the showdown in Boston, and there isn’t a soul on this planet that didn’t know what was going to happen. Everybody predicted it: The Bruins would take the lead, the ghosts of Montreal will suddenly show up, the Habs will get a late power play, and the Bruins would lose the game even though they were a far better team. It’s Montreal. It’s just how it is. So when the Bruins jumped out to a 2-0 lead just over 5 minutes in, we all wondered: Are the Habs going to choke like the Bruins did in ’08? Yeah, I didn’t think so either. A power play goal made it 2-1 in the first, a terrible giveaway gave the Habs a shorty to tie it in the second. But the Bruins didn’t give up, Chris Kelly scored in the third to take the lead. But with just two and a half minutes left, Patrice Bergeron was called for a penalty, and of course the Habs got a power play. And of course the Habs scored on the power play. And of course the game went to overtime with 17,565 people sitting in a full arena listening to the crickets, wondering if they want to stick around and watch what we all knew would happen. But a funny thing had happened when the Habs tied it. PK Subban had gotten the goal. The Montreal Gods don’t care for Subban. As much as we Bruins fans hate the Montreal organization, there are so many legends, so many Hockey Hall of Famers from Montreal that played the game with utmost class and respect. So when Subban taunted the crowd’s sudden silence after his goal, the gods got back on the bus and headed to their shrines. The rest is history:
#2 Comeback vs Leafs – Game 7
They had blown it. The Bruins had a 3 game to 1 lead against Toronto, and just like the 2004 Habs, the Leafs came storming back. Phil Kessel shed the burden he had been carrying since “The Trade”. No longer was he the chump that Boston could smother, and he carried the hunger felt by playoff starved Leafs Nation on his back and was a monster in game 7. So it was no surprise that he was in on both goals in the 3rd period that gave the Leafs a 4-1 lead. As the clock ticked down, the Bruins showing no momentum whatsoever, and fans leaving with their heads hung low, it was Milan Lucic who had a realization. He realized that if the Bruins lost this game, there was a very good chance that the makeup of the team would change drastically. The Bruins had kept as many as the players from the 2011 Cup winning team as possible, but if they were knocked out in the first round of both the 2012 and 2013 playoffs, that would have to change. Lucic knew that a loss meant this was the last time this group of players would take the ice together. He knew the Bruins could come back from a 3 goal deficit with 10 minutes left, he was part of it in NY only a few months before. He went into Beast Mode,roughing up every Leaf he could reach. Eventually, he saw an opportunity, circled behind the net and threw the puck out to Horton, who scored with 10:42 left to bring the Bruins to within 2. The Leafs then had a golden chance to put the Bruins away with a Frattin breakaway, but he missed the net, and the Bruins took advantage of the second chance. With Rask pulled for the extra attacker, Lucic scored with 1:22 remaining. Instead of celebrating, he cheered his teammates on to get one more goal. With 42 seconds left, Bergeron shot a wrister that did just that, tying the game and sending the crowd into absolute hysterics. This time, there was no shootout. Bergeron scored again in OT to shock the Leafs, and send the Bruins to the second round.
#1 There are simply no words…
Have other great memories of the last 7 years? Tweet me or comment and I’l add them here!
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