Boston is the city of champions, Titletown. For years the Red Sox and Patriots reigned over the city, really over the region of New England. The Celtics came along in 2008 and joined the party. But there was a missing piece. We had to wait 3 years to have the full picture. We had to wait 39 years for the Stanley Cup. But the sweet feeling of victory is worth it.
Heartache and pain, that’s how last season ended for the Bruins. The epic historical collapse followed the Bruins into the new season. Before it all started the Bruins picked up the number two draft pick in the 2010 draft. There was so much hype about Taylor or Tyler and with the gift the Maple Leafs GM, Brian Burke, gave them they took Tyler. Right off the bat his shirts were selling like he’d already won a Cup. I remember going to the 2nd preseason rookie game and the Garden was crawling with number 19’s.
In the offseason the B’s also added a sniper and some depth after they traded away former punching bag Dennis Wideman, first, and third round picks for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell. Chiarelli also inked Mark Recchi (1 year), Patrice Bergeron (3 year extension), and Zdeno Chara (7 years) before the season began.
When training camp started there were a lot of questions: who was going to the number one goalie, was Marc Savard going to be back to where he was before his concussion, was Nathan Horton going to be the sniper we needed, and on, and on. The answers slowly started to be answered when the Bruins were over seas for the opening game in Prauge. Tuukka Rask gave up 4 goals on 36 shots and Nathan Horton potted the only 2 goals in the 5-2 loss. Then the following day Tim Thomas took the net for a shut out and the Bruins won 3-0, with Tyler Seguin scoring his first goal.
The Bruins played well, keeping up with the pack of playoff contenders as the season progressed. Horton wasn’t on fire like everyone thought he should have been but Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci turned it up. In December the Bruins went cold. Loosing 5 games in a row, only one getting one point in the 5 games. The heat came down on Claude but in late December but the team silenced the critics by going 9-2-3 starting before Christmas and going into mid January.
One of the highlights in January came on MLK day. At the matinee show Captain Zdeno Chara scored a hat trick. In his celebration he put his hand on his head and threw his imaginary hat to the ice as the Garden started to pour hats. That game ended 7-0 with Chara, Bergeron, and McQuaid all earning multi point games.
On the trade deadline, February 28th, the Bruins finally acquired Tomas Kaberle. The trade was years in the making, I’m not kidding you. The entire day was just a waiting game for the fans and media to see if Chiarelli was going to finally pull it off. The Bruins also added Chris Kelly for more depth. 10 days prior to the dead line they also swapped Blake Wheeler and Mark Stuart for Rich Peverly and Boris Valabik.
Through everything Marc Savard was battling. He was apart of the too many men call that put the dagger through the Bruins’ heart to Philly at the end of the season. He admitted that he probably shouldn’t have pushed to make it back in the playoffs after the crushing hit dealt to him by Matt Cooke. Savvy missed the first 23 games of the season with post-concussion symptoms. His first game back was December 2nd against Tampa Bay. When it seemed like he may have been coming around on January 22nd he was concussed again by former teammate Matt Hunwick. That was the last game Savard would play all season.
The biggest player story of the regular season was Tim Thomas. Coming off of off-season hip surgery there were a lot of doubts in everyone’s minds if he could put up a decent year. Nobody saw what was coming. Timmy broke Domink Hasek’s saves percentage record with a .938, Hasek’s was .937. Thomas made the big saves when needed and lead his team to victory endless times. He was selected as a Vezina Trophy finalist on April 22nd, 2011 and will most likely pick up the hardware for the second time.
We could sit here pick through the roster for each other the player’s stories because they all have one. That would take at least 23 paragraphs. Then I could go into the coaches and team management. I’ll hold off on that.
On March 28th, 2011 the Bruins clinched a playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Flyers and as they say the rest is history.
History I’m going to repeat (a quick summary) because it’s still less than 24 hours fresh
The Bruins came face to face with their old rivals, the Montreal Canadians. The Habs took the first 2 games of the first two games in the Garden. The Bruins took the next two, then the Habs, then the Bruins, Andrew Ference had a glove malfunction, and then the Habs again. It all came down to game 7, to overtime. Nathan Horton became a hero by scoring in the extra session.
In the next series, the Bruins came up against their demons and crushed them versus the Flyers. Breaking out to a 7-3 win, the Bruins made a statement. The only close game was game 2, where it went into overtime. David Krejci took care of business though. Rolling through to the sweep with two consecutive 5-1 victories. The only sour note was Patrice Bergeron, a top player and the leading scorer on the team in the playoffs, collided with Giroux and suffered another concussion, the good news was he wouldn’t miss much time.
The Bruins faced Tampa without Bergeron. They lost the first game 5-2. In his first playoff game Tyler Seguin did step up and score a goal in his teammate’s absence. In the next game both teams combined for 11 goals but the Bruins came out a victors. Bergeron returned in game 3 and the Bruins won 2-0. The Lightning took the next game then traded with the Bruins in games 5, 6, and most importantly 7 where Nathan Horton was once again the man of the hour. The Bruins were headed to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 21 years.
We all know about the trash talk, the biting, the fingers, the green men ,and Vancouver planning it’s parade route after their game 6 win. We know that Horton was concussed, Shawn Thornton played his game, and everyone in the locker room stepped up. We know about the 80’s jacket, “Win it for Horty!”, “Win it for Savvy!”, “Win it for Rex!”, and the Dirty Water on the Rogers Arena ice. We know the Bruins are brothers who all love each other. We all know Tim Thomas won the Conn Smythe, didn’t need to pump anyone’s tires, didn’t need anyone to pump his, and stopped 798 pucks which is 238 more than any other goalie before him. We all know the Bruins understood the Stanley Cup isn’t just handed to you, you earn it and they sure did.