Okay Bruins fans. No more sulking. No more hanging your head. And no more feeling sorry for yourself. It’s been a couple weeks since the Bruins underachieving first round playoff exit at the hands of the Washington Capitals, and there is still plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. The Bruins at their core, still have great players, fantastic balance and plenty of attitude. So let’s start gearing up for next season.
Rather than dwell on this season’s shoulda, coulda, wouldas, I’m going to look back at the last few years and bring up the highlights of a great journey to where we are now. If you may be a new fan, latching on during the Cup run last year, but not really knowing much about them from the previous years, you missed some great highs to go with the lows.
I’m also going to leave the personal awards out of this(Tim Thomas’ Vezina Trophies and Smythe Trophy, Zdeno Chara’s Norris Trophy, Claude Julien’s Adams Trophy), though some personal achievements have made the list. Click on the links to re-live all these moments.
So lets start with:
#10: Bruins Score 3 Shorthanded Goals in One Kill
On April 10th, 2010, the Bruins, playing the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, scored three shorthanded goals in one penalty kill to blow the game open and go on for a 4-2 victory. It was the first time that I have personally ever seen this happen in any game, and I even remember laughing after Steve Begin’s goal, which was the third. Of the goal scorers, only Daniel Paille remains on the team. To see the goals uncut, CLICK HERE.
#9 Unveiling Bobby Orr’s “The Goal” Statue
Exactly one month after that shorthanded magic, the Bruins paid tribute to arguably the greatest defenseman in the history of the game scoring arguably the most famous goal in league history. On May 10th, 2010, on the 40 year anniversary of the goal that won the Bruins the Stanley Cup in 1970 against the St. Louis Blues, Orr was there to pull the canopy off the 800 pound bronze statue designed by sculptor Harry Weber. It portrays Orr in midair after sneaking a pass from Derek Sanderson past Blues goalie Glenn Hall just before defenseman Noel Picard tripped him. The statue is located in front of the TD Garden.
#8 The Montreal Brawl Game
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said he never heard the Boston fans as loud as they were on February 9th, 2011, when Tim Thomas went out to challenge Montreal Canadien goalie Carey Price to a fight near center ice during the second period. The fight itself was less than spectacular as the much younger, bigger and stronger Price wrestled Thomas to the ground before they could really start throwing punches. But the rest of the game was spectacularly entertaining and if you were in attendance, it was a game you tell your friends about for weeks, and even if you weren’t there, you say you were there anyway. The final score of the game was 8-6 in favor of the Bruins, strange considering that both teams were ranking at the top of the league in defensive categories. Throw in another line brawl at the end of the game and you have the most memorable game of the 2010-11 regular season. To see all the highlights, CLICK HERE.
#7 Milan Lucic Shatters the Glass
Early in the 2008 season, Milan Lucic checked Toronto Maple Leaf Mike Van Ryan through a pane of glass in the Maple Leafs zone, forever endearing himself to Bruins compilation videos everywhere. At the time, Lucic was just a 20 year old man-beast in his second season laying waste to anybody not wearing the black and gold. The buzz had already begun to brew about Lucic, inspiring “Lucic Crew” T-shirts and unfairly drawing comparisons to Bruins legend, power forward Cam Neely. He went on to score 17 goals that season as well as amassing 136 penalty minutes.
#6 Marc Savard Returns From Concussion, Scores OT Winner
When Marc Savard was concussed by a cheap shot elbow by Pittsburgh Penguins Matt Cooke on March 7th, 2010, no one knew when he would return. Savard was the #1 center for the Bruins and his playmaking ability made the Bruins power play a threat every time he was on the ice. Savard’s return for the second round series matchup with the Philadelphia Flyers just two months later was the answer. His return was going to be the catalyst that launched the Bruins into Stanley Cup contention, and in Game 1, Savard blasted a memorable OT winner past goalie Brian Boucher and the Bruins looked to be on their way. But it seemed as though Savard might have came back too early, proving to be relatively ineffective for the remainder of the series and the Flyers won it 4 games to 3, winning the final 4 games to do so. After Savard got re-injured in January of the following year, he has not played a game since and no one would be surprised if he was done for his career. The Savard/Cooke incident was the straw that broke the NHL’s back, as they applied more strict rules on head shots that following off season. But that return in Game 1 is still one of the most memorable moments in recent Bruins history.
#5 Game 6 vs Montreal
Any Bruins fan knows that if you just mention “Game 6″, they know exactly which Game 6 you are talking about. For those of you that don’t know, it was on April 19th, 2008. Up until about halfway through the third period, it played out like a regular playoff game. The last 10 minutes would go down in Bruins folklore forever, as the upstart Bruins were fighting off elimination in a see-saw battle with the top seeded Canadiens, spawning NESN play-by-play announcer Jack Edwards to yell the iconic phrase, “The building is vibrating!” Marco Sturm’s Game winner created hope and belief in the Bruins that was not there in the previous few years, creating a buzz about the Bruins in Boston that hockey has finally returned.
#4 The Winter Classic
The Bruins knew they were relevant again when they were invited to play in the NHL’s annual outdoor showcase, the Winter Classic, at the iconic home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, on New Year’s Day, 2010. Their opponents were the Philadelphia Flyers, suitable for the emerging rivalry developing between the two teams (see #6). The game was played tight defensively and had one of the best endings to a game in Bruins regular season history, with once again, Sturm scoring the game winner, this time in overtime off a beautiful feed from Patrice Bergeron.
#3 Nathan Horton Becomes a Playoff Hero
The Bruins were Stanley Cup Champions last year. We all know this. And we all know of Tim Thomas’s brilliance during the Finals, netting him a Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. But not to be overshadowed, Nathan Horton developed a reputation as a clutch playoff goal scorer playing in his first NHL playoffs. Acquired by the Bruins in the previous offseason (along with Gregory Campbell) from the Florida Panthers for Dennis Wideman and picks, Horton had a good regular season with the Bruins (26 goals) but became legendary in the first round against the Montreal Canadiens. Not only did Horton score the double overtime game winner in Game 5, giving the Bruins the series lead, but his overtime game winning blast just two games later in Game 7 temporarily made Horton transcend all time and space in Boston, capping off an improbable series victory after losing the first two games at home. Horton wasn’t done there, however, as he scored the only goal in Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. During Game 3 of the Finals, Horton was hit late by Vancouver Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome, severely concussing him and knocking him out for the remainder of the playoffs. But Horton was still there to inspire his teammates, as Bobby Orr waved the Horton banner before the Start of Game 4, and let’s not forget about Horton pouring melted TD Garden ice over the ice of Vancouver’s Rogers Arena before retreating back to the locker room declaring to his teammates, “It’s our ice now.”
#2 The Dallas Brawl Game
For some unexplained reason, the Bruins and the Dallas Stars have developed a big rivalry. Strange, considering that the teams play each other only once a year. But go back a few years to November 1st, 2008. Playing in Boston, Stars agitators Steve Ott and Sean Avery were getting under the skins of the Bruins all night, creating a virtual melting pot of emotion on the ice and sending announcer Jack Edwards into some of his most classic “homer” tirades. Finally, just over halfway through the third period, after Avery hit Milan Lucic from behind into the boards, Marc Savard jumped all over him, spawning a line brawl that fans talked about for years. Mix in the fact that it was a blowout 5-1 victory for the Bruins, and the game became an instant Bruins Classic. But it wasn’t so much the game that was memorable, but the aftermath as well. Entering the game, the Bruins were just 5-3-3 and had scored just 4 goals the previous three games. After the game, however, the Bruins went on a classic run, going 24-2-1 over a two month span, showing all of us what the Bruins are truly capable of.
#1 The Stanley Cup
Well, of course this would be the best memory. Bruins fans have only waited 39 years for the moment when captain Zdeno Chara lifted the Cup over his 6’9″ head, higher than it’s ever been lifted before. It wasn’t without it’s doubts, however. Remember, much like the Montreal series in the opening round, the Bruins lost the first two games to the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver 1-0 and 3-2, the second in overtime. Back on Boston ice, however the Bruins completely dominated the Canucks, winning Games 3 and 4 by a combined score of 12-1. After another 1-0 loss in Vancouver, the Bruins took in to Vancouver again, scoring three goals in the first 8:35, chasing Nuck goalie Roberto Luongo from the net in spectacular fashion considering remarks that he made about the Bruins Tim Thomas’ goaltending style. The Bruins won that game 5-2, setting up Game 7 in Vancouver, where Nathan Horton used some good old fashioned hockey superstition (see #3) to possibly help the Bruins to a 4-0 victory. The Stanley Cup Parade in Boston was a spectacle as an estimated one million fans greeting the players as they went by. To see a fabulous highlight video of the Finals, CLICK HERE.