Boston Bruins 2012 Year in Review
2012 Year in Review
As 2012 comes to a close and it has now been more than eight months since the Boston Bruins last took the ice—(no) thanks to the ongoing NHL lockout for that, of course—it’s the right time to look back on the year that was and remember some of the big moments that came from the Hub of Hockey this year.
Yes, despite the early playoff exit, struggles to win that started in late January and enveloped most of February, the controversy surrounding the team’s Stanley Cup victory visit to the White House and Nathan Horton’s second concussion in as many years, there were still definitely some big moments worth remembering.
Obviously, for moments, milestones or games to be included in this list, they had to happen during the calendar year of 2012. So, things like the win streak of November, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand scoring their first hat tricks and the 8-0 victory over the Florida Panthers just before Christmas, though they happened in the 2011-12 NHL season, are not included in this slide show.
The moments are also sorted chronologically by date. Sometimes, videos are included too to aid with the reminiscing.
So, as 2012 melts away into 2013 and year in review lists are in vogue all over the place, enjoy a look back at the year that was for the Boston Bruins. Here’s to having heaps of moments to use for the next installation of this list in 2013.
Jan. 5: The Torching of Calgary
The Bruins and Calgary Flames met in their only regular game of the season on Jan. 5, only their second game of the still-youthful 2012. Coming off a 6-1 win over New Jersey the night before, and with the Stanley Cup Final rematch against Vancouver looming, first the Bruins had to deal with Calgary.
They dealt with Calgary pretty well.
In their largest margin of victory for the entire 2011-12 season, the Bruins torched Flames goalies Leland Irving and Miikka Kiprusoff with nine goals while Tuukka Rask held down the fort at the other end of the ice and earned a shutout.
Nathan Horton (above) came within one goal of a hat trick—I had friends who were at that game, praying to the hockey gods that he might get three—while Patrice Bergeron had two goals as well. Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and David Krejci each scored a goal. Benoit Pouliot had three assists. Five different Bruins had three-point nights. They scored at even strength. They scored on the power play. They scored shorthanded. Fans chanted their desire for 10 goals, but like Horton and Bergeron, that request fell just short.
Jan. 7: Vancouver, Revisited
On Jan. 7, with that Flames victory still in mind, the Vancouver Canucks came to Boston for their lone regular-season visit, the rematch of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. It was a heated affair—before five minutes had elapsed in the first period, Shawn Thornton found himself surrounded by at least five Canucks when he went near Vancouver's bench to help a teammate. Milan Lucic was falsely accused of leaving the bench to join in the fight and was booted from the game, but the misconduct he got was rescinded--after the game. Brad Marchand got a five-game suspension from Brendan Shanahan for a clip on Sami Salo, one that many Bruins fans felt was either unwarranted or too long.
Marchand did manage to score a goal before he got his penalty, though.
All of Vancouver's four goals were scored on the power play, advantages they got from being on the winning side of the many, many penalties handed out during the 60 minutes of play. Though the Bruins put up three—Rich Peverley scored and David Krejci added another—it was not enough for the rematch win.
But, the truth of it is that the Bruins won when something bigger was on the line and they'd apparently intimidated Roberto Luongo enough that he didn't play at all.
Jan. 10: Shawn Thornton's Penalty Shot
The Winnipeg Jets were up 2-1 at the start of the second period on Jan. 10 when Shawn Thornton was whistled for an illegal check to the head. Video replay showed that there was no actual contact between Thornton and Chris Thorburn, who just ricocheted like he had been hit. Thornton went to the sin bin anyway and sat his two minutes.
Once he got out, he found himself in a lucky position: loose puck, only one Jet nearby, a great time for a breakaway. But that one Jet, Tim Stapleton, impeded Thornton's scoring chance. The universe righted itself after getting imbalanced from that check to the head penalty when Thornton was awarded a penalty shot.
On the backhand, after executing a tidy little toe-drag, Thornton scored the goal. He'd often done that move in practice, but never in front of a sellout TD Garden crowd, which got him nervous. Actually, it had been a while since he was awarded a penalty shot in a game at all: "I haven't taken a penalty shot in front of people since the Max Milk Midget Tournament, I think. I won that shootout competition by the way - I have the belt buckle to prove it," he said.
The Bruins later won 5-3. Click here to watch the penalty shot in all its glory.
Jan. 19: Patrice Bergeron's 500th Game
During a game on Jan. 19 against the New Jersey Devils in which the Bruins scored all four goals in a single period for a 4-1 win, there were two other distinctions. Johnny Boychuk turned 28 and Patrice Bergeron played in his 500th NHL game.
All 500 of those NHL games have been with Boston—he has not played for any other organization within the league since his 2003 drafting, aside from a stint with AHL Providence Bruins during the 2004-05 lockout.
In 537 NHL games to date, he has scored 143 goals, put up 258 assists and served 162 penalty minutes in the regular season, plus 11 goals, 31 assists and 49 penalty minutes in the playoffs.
Jan. 21: Dennis Seidenberg's 500th Game
Just two nights later, Dennis Seidenberg hit his 500 NHL game mark in a 3-2 overtime matinee loss against the New York Rangers on Jan. 21. He's been with Boston since the latter stages of the 2009-10 season and has also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Phoenix Coyotes, Carolina Hurricanes and Florida Panthers. In 535 NHL games to date, he has 30 goals, 141 assists and 232 penalty minutes in the regular season, plus three goals, 17 assists and 49 penalty minutes in the playoffs.
Jan. 23: The White House Controversy
The traditional victorious sports team visit to the White House is usually a pretty light and fluffy occasion. Everyone on the team dresses up nicely, the president makes a few jokes, there's a photo opportunity and then it's on to the next game.
That was not so when the Bruins visited President Obama on Jan. 23.
Tying in the White House visit with a game against the Washington Capitals, there were three members of the 2011 championship team missing. Two of them, Marc Savard and Michael Ryder, had good reasons to not be there (Savard's post-concussion symptons; Ryder's playing for Dallas), but the third absence was especially noticeable when Obama mentioned his playoff achievements specifically.
Tim Thomas, one of the very few Americans on the team, was not there. In a very controversial move, he chose not to attend the visit because of his personal views. He released a statement explaining why, in which he overused the caps lock button as he explained that he feels the “Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People...Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.”
Later, team president Cam Neely did a little damage control: “We are disappointed that Tim chose not to join us, and his views certainly do not reflect those of the Jacobs family or the Bruins organization. This will be the last public comment from the Bruins organization on this subject.”
Despite that absence, the rest of the team enjoyed their short visit with the president, who even referred to Brad Marchand as the little ball of hate—a nickname often used for another short, surly player of yore, Pat Verbeek.
Jan. 26-29: Big Times in Ottawa
Boston was represented very well at the 2012 All-Star Game in Ottawa from Jan. 26 to 29. Head coach Claude Julien and the rest of the Bruins coaching staff were the bench bosses for Team Chara, which of course was captained by Zdeno Chara. For Julien and Chara, going to Ottawa brought back good memories: Julien grew up and played junior in the area while Chara played for the Ottawa Senators from 2001-06. Also on the All-Star rosters were Tyler Seguin and Tim Thomas, both of whom were eventually picked by Chara in the fantasy draft—though he made Seguin wait it out for a few rounds.
In the skills competition, Chara fired two slap shots that broke his own record for fastest slapper, first clocking 106.4 mph and then a new record of 108.8. Is 110 mph next? Chara's predictably humble and doesn't full-on say yes, but it could happen.
Then in the big game, Chara captained the winning team in a 12-9 victory. He saw his fellow Slovak Marian Gaborik score a hat trick, scored a goal himself and witnessed Thomas take a new record for most All-Star Game wins by a goaltender with four. Plus, we discovered that a lot of the guys in the game are big fans of Drake. (I remember back in the day when he was on "Degrassi" and his character's sport of choice was basketball.)
The fact that we will not see another All-Star Game until at least 2015—the 2013 one was canceled by the lockout and 2014 is an Olympic year—makes this one seem even more special in retrospect, unless you're no fan of the All-Star Game's well-mannered frivolity.
Feb. 11: Milan Lucic's Last-Minute Heroics
But after losing a two-goal lead when the Predators tied it up and eventually surged ahead by one in the late stages of the third period, it looked like all that effort would be for naught. The Bruins, it seemed, were headed for another loss, which would not be a new thing for February 2012 at all.
That is, until Milan Lucic scored a power play goal with a little over a minute left to play, forcing overtime and eventually a shootout. The Bruins were victorious by a 4-3 score.
Feb. 17: Tuukka Rask's 100th Game
Though the Bruins lost 4-2 to the Jets on Feb. 17, and Tuukka Rask was in net for that loss, it still represented a milestone. With that appearance, Rask made it to 100 NHL games played. Though he was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2005, he never played with them, so all 100 of those NHL games are with Boston.
He played the most games of any season to date in 2009-10, posting a 22-12-5 record with a .931 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average. That GAA was one of the best in the league and he nearly won the Calder Trophy for his performance, since that was his rookie season.
Feb. 22: Carter Camper Debuts
Camper, who played for four years in college at Miami University and spent time in the U.S. National Team Development Program, had been with the Bruins organization since he graduated in 2011. However, he hadn't seen time with Boston before he joined the team for a game against the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 22.
Three days later, he scored his very first NHL goal during a 5-3 win over Ottawa. Though he was later returned to Providence after some late-February trading and didn't play with Boston for the rest of the season, he remains in Rhode Island today. His name is also fun to pronounce with a strong Boston accent.
Late February: Brian Rolston Returns to Boston
Brian Rolston had been a member of the Bruins from 1999 to 2004. With two stints in New Jersey, plus time in Minnesota, Colorado and Long Island under his belt, he returned to Boston as part of a late February two-pack trade with the New York Islanders.
Though a lot of things had changed since he last wore the Spoked B, Rolston helped out whenever he could in the 21 games he played for the Bruins. He scored three goals and added 12 assists in the regular season, plus a goal and two assists in the team's short playoff run.
Late February was also a homecoming of sorts for Mike Mottau, the other half of the Islanders trade. Raised in Quincy, Mass., Mottau played for four years at Boston College.
March 15: Andrew Ference's 700th Game
It wasn't a very good night for the Bruins on March 15—they lost 6-2 to the Panthers, their second consecutive loss in which they allowed six goals during a trip to play both Florida-based teams. Though the on-ice result was not good, one nice thing did happen: Andrew Ference joined the 700 club as he played in his 700th NHL game.
Time spent with Pittsburgh and Calgary (including an unsuccessful visit to the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals with the Flames) before he became a Bruin helped him pass this milestone. He has 33 goals, 147 assists and 610 penalty minutes in 712 NHL games to date. Plus, he has eight goals, two assists and 118 penalty minutes in 106 playoff games.
March 19: Making it 6-0 Against TO
An 8-0 shutout win over the Maple Leafs on March 19 was big for the Bruins in two ways: it was a statement win almost as big as the Calgary shutout and it made the season series against the in-division rivals 6-0. Boston had managed to beat Toronto in all six games they played against one another. Tyler Seguin, who got his first hat trick against Toronto earlier in the season, scored during this game, as did Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Benoit Pouliot, Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara and Brian Rolston. Also, Milan Lucic and Mike Komisarek tussled in a fight that had Jack Edwards laughing and continued their four-year grudge against each other—with Lucic winning handily.
March 24: Game 1,000 for Zdeno Chara
Chara and the Bruins were in Southern California putting together a 4-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings for his 1,000th NHL game on March 24. So, when the Bruins returned home three days later, that was when the organization honored his achievement with a pre-game ceremony featuring the awarding of a special silver stick and an appearance by his wife Tatiana and young daughter Elliz—who was a little camera-shy.
Chara previously played for the Islanders and Senators before the Bruins. In 1,007 NHL games to date, he has 137 goals, 322 assists and 1,471 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, he has 10 goals, 29 assists and 152 penalty minutes in 107 games.
April 3: Torey Krug Debuts
At Michigan State University, Torey Krug had been the definition of an offensive defenseman. In fact, he won the conference's Best Offensive Defenseman award in 2010-11 after notching 28 points in 38 games. But after his third year of college play, he decided to go pro and signed a free agent entry-level deal with Boston. His debut came on April 3 in Pittsburgh, where he was part of a 5-3 loss. Two days later, he assisted on a Milan Lucic goal that sealed a 3-1 Bruins win over Ottawa.
He's now with Providence, where he recently scored his first professional goal. With his background in mind, though, there are surely more to come.
April: The One-Goal, Seven-Game Series
It was a thoroughly unusual playoff series for the Bruins when they faced the Capitals in the quarterfinals. In a series that went to a full seven games, each and every single game was decided by just one goal. Chris Kelly's overtime heroics in Game 1 started the trend and eventually Tyler Seguin repeated those heroics in Game 6 to force a decisive Game 7 back in Boston.
In the end, though, Washington committed the final act of overtime heroism to move on to the semifinals, sending the Bruins to an early summer. It also kept alive the pattern of defending Stanley Cup champions being unable to repeat their victory, a pattern that stretches back to 1999.
May 26: Chris Bourque Comes Home
In one of many off-season trades for guys to help fill out the Providence lineup and keep the Bruins system fresh, Zach Hamill was sent off to Washington in exchange for none other than Chris Bourque. The elder son of Bruins legend Ray Bourque, Chris had spent most of his time playing for the AHL Hershey Bears, as well as some time in Russia and Switzerland.
Now inside the Bruins organization, the younger Bourque has obviously yet to take the ice in Boston, but has been playing in Providence. When the day comes where he will play in TD Garden, though, expect some applause—and possibly for papa Bourque to be in the house, too.
June 3: Tim Thomas Takes a Year
Maybe he's clairvoyant and could see the labor unrest on the horizon, but in early June when Tim Thomas announced via his Facebook that he would sit out the 2012-13 season, it was a big surprise. His statement, in which he said he will focus on friends, family and faith, left the Bruins with a scramble in the goalie line of succession, but general manager Peter Chiarelli wasn't worried. He's placed his faith in Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin as the new tandem, plus Niklas Svedberg in Providence and other prospects in minor levels just in case.
However, Thomas' decision to sit it out leaves Boston on the hook for his $5 million cap hit. This could pose a big problem to the club down the road, but only time will tell—or Thomas himself, if he really is clairvoyant.
June 20: Patrice Bergeron Wins the Selke
Even before the hardware was handed out at the 2012 NHL Awards on June 20, Patrice Bergeron had already won one award: the Plus/Minus award, given to the player with the highest plus/minus score—his was a +36. He also won the most faceoffs in the NHL, including, more likely than not, the one pictured above. But when it came time to hand out the Selke Trophy, given to “the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game,” Bergeron's win made him the first Bruins Selke winner since 1982.
He was continuously humble about his win, touting the honor of just being nominated, complimenting his fellow Selke finalists, thanking his teammates, thanking literally everyone in Boston and declaring that he aims to improve his game as well.
June 22: Surprise Subban Selection
The Boston-Montreal rivalry has been the NHL's fiercest for decades now and it still burns bright in the twenty-teens, or whatever they've decided to call this decade. P.K. Subban is a microcosm of the rivalry and isn't exactly the most beloved man in Boston.
So when Peter Chiarelli took the podium in Pittsburgh on June 22 during the first round of the 2012 NHL Draft and announced the selection of P.K.'s brother Malcolm Subban, it was a huge surprise—that Pierre McGuire actually wondered about aloud in the idle, anxiety-inducing moments before the announcement. The two brothers, wearing identically bright grins and laughing, hugged tightly and then Malcolm went to get his Spoked B.
Goalies take more time to develop and Chiarelli knew this, so the younger Subban has been playing with the OHL Belleville Bulls, rocketing them up near the top of the league standings. He's also representing Canada at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Down the road someday, there could be a game in which P.K. attempts to score, but is denied by Malcolm. You never know.
July 24: Nathan Horton Ready to Go
Nathan Horton has struggled with concussions during these past two seasons. After being concussed again in a January 2012 game, his season ended early, despite valiant attempts to return to the lineup in time for the playoffs. Instead, he had some upsetting setbacks in his recovery and needed more time to rest.
But then in late July, there was good news: Horton was cleared for contact and ready to play again. Of course, now there’s the small matter of nothing being available for him to play. Still, once the doors to the NHL open again, Horton should return to his top-line duties and start contributing regularly on offense just as he did before the hit.
Up to Sept. 15: Big-Time Contracts
Starting in June and ending right before midnight on Sept. 15, the Bruins front office locked down a lot of the team with the aim of trying to keep the 2011 champion team together as much as possible. Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell got three years, Chris Kelly got four, Tuukka Rask signed for a year in order to (ideally) prove his future worth during the 2012-13 campaign, Tyler Seguin is on for six more years, Brad Marchand got four years, Malcolm Subban signed a standard entry-level deal and Milan Lucic's three-year extension was announced on the day before the lockout officially began.
This deluge of deals was just a microcosm of what was happening all around the league at the time—see also Ryan Suter and Zach Parise's monster deals. Were the deals all being done with the knowledge that a lockout was imminent and a new deal can very well rock the landscape of trading and signing? That remains to be seen.