Stanley Cup Playoffs: Looking Back at the Boston Bruins Semifinal Series
The Series That Was
It took a miraculous third-period comeback for the Boston Bruins to escape the Stanley Cup Playoffs quarterfinal round as the victors. They’d let the Toronto Maple Leafs get back into the series in a big way, elongating it and requiring a historical bounce-back just to make the semis.
That kind of miracle, and that length of series, was not necessary for the second round of the playoffs against the New York Rangers. The semifinals were shorter—not a sweep, but the next best thing: a 4-1 series victory and a stamped ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, where the Bruins have gone from the higher-seeded team to the underdogs against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
But before the Bruins move on to the next one—considering their schedule has, as of this writing, not been set because the Western Conference is still settling its semis—let’s take a look back at how they came out the winners against a team pegged by some to have no problem at all in this showdown. Considering the way the Rangers were portrayed, especially in live play-by-play, as a fearless and heroic team of brave warriors willing to sacrifice anything for their cause, backed by the king, the greatest goaltender in the world, a man who could do no wrong between the pipes, seeing the Bruins move on may come as a shock to some.
It shouldn’t, though. The Bruins have a more balanced attack: three of their four forward lines are chugging along at ideal paces (the third line has been kind of lackluster so far, though we’re all angling for them to break out soon), their defensemen are reliable producers of goals and assists as well, their coach doesn’t publicly berate his players’ abilities on the power play and their goalie is among the NHL’s elite as well—a man snubbed for Vezina Trophy consideration and the guy who dethroned King Henrik.
Here is a look back at the semifinal series that was for the Bruins.
Game 1: 3-2, Bruins (OT)
Goals scored by: Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand
After a scoreless first period in which the two teams really spent time feeling out one another’s strategies, captain Chara’s second of the playoffs ignited the scoring. Ryan McDonagh tied it late in the second and Derek Stepan pushed the visitors ahead very early in the third, but in Torey Krug’s playoff debut, he scored a hugely important power play goal about two minutes later.
Just one game removed from their once-in-a-lifetime overtime win, the Bruins found the back of the net in overtime—this time with a sneaky goal from Brad Marchand, helped out by Patrice Bergeron.
Game 2: 5-2, Bruins
Goals scored by: Torey Krug, Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic
In this game, the Bruins torched Henrik Lundqvist for the most goals he’s allowed in a single game since 2011—or, if you decide to count just playoff games, 2009. Krug the wunderkind had a multi-point game, there was scoring from all kinds of players, Dan Girardi got an abysmal -5 rating for being on the ice for all Boston goals and the Bruins left for Madison Square Garden up 2-0 in the series.
Game 3: 2-1, Bruins
Goals scored by: Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille
Though the Rangers struck first, though they were on their home ice, though the Bruins had been foiled on some choice breakaway opportunities, the home team’s over-reliance on their goaltender proved to be their undoing. Boychuk found twine and then Paille cashed in on some good hard rebound work for the untying goal, a maneuver that Lundqvist was perhaps thinking of when he claimed following this game that the Bruins were up 3-0 thanks to naught but lucky bounces (an inaccurate descriptor, of course).
Game 4: 4-3, Rangers (OT)
Goals scored by: Nathan Horton, Torey Krug, Tyler Seguin
That fourth win is the hardest to get and, since this is the Bruins and people are unoriginal, the whispers going into and exiting this game all involved the infamous and statistically outlying collapse of 2010. Unable to complete the sweep, the Bruins still scored on two separate power plays and Seguin finally scored his first of the playoffs, but at the time, the outcome of this one was no fun.
(It was, however, being watched at Fenway Park while the Boston Red Sox played the Cleveland Indians, to the point where the score was on their famous scoreboard and someone saw the radar crew watching it on a TV.)
Game 5: 3-1, Bruins
Goals scored by: Torey Krug and Gregory CampbellBack in front of a home crowd, the Bruins sought that hard-to-get fourth win and got it. The Rangers struck first, but the Bruins didn’t let that dissuade them—Krug, my choice for series MVP, scored another power play goal and the Merlot line served up another goal to push Boston ahead. But any lead can be lost before the final horn sounds, so there was no comfort or letting off the gas pedal, not until Campbell’s slow and steady wins the race empty-netter sealed the deal and the series.