The 2010-11 NHL season was a special year for the Boston Bruins.
The grueling seven-game series against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round and the epic Eastern Conference Finals matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning set the stage for Boston to claim hockey’s most prestigious prize.
The team that stood in their way was the Vancouver Canucks.
High-powered offenses, cheap shots, pumping tires, chasing goaltenders from the nets, and thousands of miles logged between games were all attributes that accompanied that Stanley Cup Final. At the end of the series, the Bruins came out on top. Ever since that two-week span in June of 2011, the Canucks became the second-biggest rival in the eyes of B’s fans.
Try convincing the Boston faithful that this rivalry has simmered down. Bold move.
Despite already playing once this season, which was a 4-0 victory for the Black and Gold, the teams returned to the TD Garden on Thursday night to wrap up the season series.
The Bruins are returning home for just the second time in almost two weeks after concluding a five-game road trip. Although the Bruins only came home with five out of a possible 10 points, capping the road trip off with a solid 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres was exactly what the team needed.
Also, the team exercised one of its demons and defeated the Canadiens north of the border on Tuesday. Although it does not completely eliminate the humiliating defeat on New Year’s Day, the fact that the Bruins got some retribution over the Habs was impressive to watch…albeit indoors at the Bell Centre.
The Bruins started to fall in the standings within the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, but they still remain in the thick of things when it comes to the playoffs. The race for the postseason is tightly compacted and making that one buying move could be crucial. Acquiring another defenseman prior to the trade deadline will go a long way to improving the team’s chances.
However, that is an entirely different story for a different day. Thursday night was all about taking care of the Canucks.
Tuukka Rask (16-13-4, 2.45 GAA, .918 SV%) opposed Jacob Markstrom (7-5-4, 2.40 GAA, .922 SV%) in the goaltending matchup on this night.
Both teams sent out the fourth lines to start the game in a tone-setting tactic that benefited the Bruins. Max Talbot and Zac Rinaldo each had great scoring chances within the first minute. However, Boston fell behind early on a goal that Rask would have loved to have back as it squeaked underneath him. Sven Baertschi was the goal scorer for Vancouver. Overall, the first period was solid for the B’s but they hit a dry spot as they went over 10 minutes without a shot on goal. What stood out was that the wingers put great pressure on the Vancouver defense and that led to some of their “close but no avail” opportunities. Shots on goal were 11-4 in favor of Boston through the first 20 minutes.
“As much as it looked good in the first period, we needed to have a better start against this team,” said head coach Claude Julien.
In the second period, the Bruins started to match up to the physical play presented early on by the Canucks. If the Bruins were going to have to fight for every inch of ice to get a shot on goal (which they certainly did), then they were going to reciprocate against their opponent. Sure enough, the persistency paid off for Jimmy Hayes as he pulled the B’s even at one with a blast from the circle. That goal–resulted from a line switch by Julien–was his 11th tally of the season, giving the B’s hope entering the final period of play.
“I just put the puck on net and got a favorable bounce,” said Hayes regarding his goal. “All of the guys worked hard on the fore-check to create that opportunity so I just tried to get the shot off as quick as possible.”
With the momentum on their side, the Bruins came out firing on all cylinders to begin the third period. They did allow an early tally from Alexander Burrows, but they quickly rebounded in a big way. Brad Marchand netted his 18th goal of the year on a nifty pass from Patrice Bergeron. From there, the compete level evaporated. The Canucks scored two late goals (one being an empty netter) from Daniel Sedin to seal the 4-2 victory and split the season series.
“The puck management and sloppy play was all over the place,” said Julien. “We should have been harder on their goaltender more often in this game.”
Unfortunately for Boston, the high wore off from the victory earlier in the week. “We played so well against Montreal,” said Landon Ferraro. “It was not just on the defense tonight. It was also on the forwards. We just were not quick enough and did not use our speed.”
The Bruins will continue their brief homestand on Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Lineup for Jan. 21 vs. Vancouver
Loui Eriksson-David Krejci-David Pastrnak
Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Brett Connolly
Matt Beleskey-Ryan Spooner-Jimmy Hayes
Zac Rinaldo-Max Talbot-Landon Ferraro
Zdeno Chara-Zach Trotman
Torey Krug-Kevan Miller
Joe Morrow-Dennis Seidenberg
Side Notes…Adam McQuaid (upper body) remained out of the lineup due to his injury…..David Krejci made his return to the lineup after missing the last 10 games with an upper-body injury…..Patrice Bergeron is now in sole possession of ninth place on the all-time Bruins scoring list with 591 points, passing Cam Neely earlier in the week…..Frank Vatrano was sent back down to Providence after only recording one point in his last 13 games…..Boston was coming into this game with a three-game winning streak.