This is the second of a three-part series breaking down the Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins’ 2010-11 season. In part three, I take a look at the postseason.
The Boston Bruins reached the playoffs and faced their nemeses, the Montreal Canadiens, in Round One. Montreal was 4-2 against the Bruins during the 2010-11 regular season, consistently delivering clutch goals and key saves. Many feared the Canadiens from the Bruins perspective, and it appeared that the series might have been a mismatch in the Habs’ favor.
Things were certainly not pretty to start off. For one, Boston lost Game 1 to Montreal in just an awful effort and a terrible game of hockey. They barely challenged Carey Price and things stayed the same for Game 2. Losing 3-1, they scored only one goal in their two games to start off their playoff quest. Things had to improve heading into Quebec, or the Bruins’ season would have been over in very disappointing fashion. The Bruins were able to find a way to win Game 3 by a 4-2 score and then things got exciting in Game 4.
Michael Ryder scored two goals including the overtime game winner in a game many called for him not to play. Tyler Seguin had not yet appeared in the series, and Boston needed offense. But Ryder put an end to the talk that Seguin should replace him by delivering a spectacular performance. The Bruins would take a 3-2 series win with another overtime contest, this one coming on a game-winning goal by Nathan Horton. It wasn’t to be his only big goal of the playoffs. The Bruins’ destiny was put on hold with a Canadiens win in Game 6, but the Bruins came through in Game 7. Horton fired a rocket of a wrist shot past Price to send the Bruins to Round 2.
They faced the Philadelphia Flyers, who defeated Boston in heartbreaking fashion a year ago. This was be the Bruins chance to put away those demons for good, but no one expected what would come. Boston absolutely destroyed Philadelphia in Game 1, but Game 2 ended in a fashion to which the Bruins had become quite accustomed: overtime. This time, David Krejci played the hero.
Games 3 and 4 were both 5-1 blowouts in Boston’s favor, and they headed to the Eastern Conference Championship against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning were a team similar to the Canadiens, who matched up well with the Bruins, so Boston was not the obvious favorite. And the series started out just as against Montreal, with Tampa Bay taking the first game. However Tyler Seguin, now in the lineup due to a Patrice Bergeron injury, scored two goals in Game 2 to lead the Bruins to victory.
A 2-0 win in Tampa Bay gave Boston a 2-1 lead in the series but Game 4 was a potential back-breaker. The Bruins held a 3-0 first period lead, but Teddy Purcell and the Lightning came back to win and tie Boston in the series. The Bruins bounced back to win Game 5, but the resilient Lightning took Game 6 in Tampa Bay. Just like against Montreal, Game 7 would determine the series.
No whistles, no penalties, no power plays. Nothing in Game 7 until late in the game, when Horton once again saved the day. His goal against the red-hot Dwayne Roloson was all the Bruins needed, as they headed to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1990, when they lost to Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers. In the Finals, they found themselves matched up against the Vancouver Canucks, their second Canadian opponent in these playoffs.
The Bruins looked awful in Game 1, but lost just 1-0 on a late goal from Raffi Torres. Game 2 was similarly heart-breaking, with Canucks instigator Alexandre Burrows scoring in OT when Tim Thomas strayed from the Bruins’ net net. And after Burrows had presumably bit Patrice Bergeron in Game 1 – but hadn’t been suspended – Bruins fans and players were livid.
Going back to Boston, the Bruins had to win to keep their Cup hopes alive. And win they did, as they trounced the Canucks 8-1 and chased Roberto Luongo from the goal. A similarly lopsided 4-0 win in Game 4 tied the series and sent it back to Vancouver with the Bruins seemingly holding all the momentum. But the Canucks rebounded for a 1-0 win, in a game where Luongo was absolutely fantastic. But it was his comments post-game that made the headlines.
Saying that Thomas would be a better goalie if he stayed in the paint and that (Luongo) didn’t have to “pump (Thomas’s) tires,” Luongo allowed five goals in the Bruins’ Game 6 win. That set up yet another Game 7, the Bruins’ third of these playoffs. Bergeron scored the first goal, and then Brad Marchand the second to give Boston a 2-0 lead. Thomas was unstoppable in the Bruins’ goal, while Bergeron scored again and an empty-netter clinched the Bruins’ 4-0 Game 7 victory. And that, in a nutshell, is how the Bruins won their first Cup since 1972.