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Sports Then and Now

Resilient Boston Bruins End Stanley Cup Drought

Posted on June 17, 2011 by Jonathan Fucile

After almost four decades, the Boston Bruins are champions.

The story for these Boston Bruins coming into the 2010-11 season was whether or not they could overcome the mental damage caused by one of the biggest collapses in the history of sports. Boston had shown so much promise over recent seasons, taking the Montreal Canadiens to a seventh game before getting blown out, running wild on the Eastern Conference before a disappointing second round loss to the Carolina Hurricanes and then their heartbreaking defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Many hoped that the Bruins would learn from their defeats and finally quench the thirst of a city absolutely begging to drink from the Stanley Cup after thirty-nine long years. Most of the current generation of Bruins fans were not even a thought in their parents head the last time the Bruins captured Stanley Cup glory but with the offseason acquisition of Nathan Horton, the hype of drafting Tyler Seguin and an ever improving cast of characters, expectations and hopes were at a high when Boston began their season overseas.

The first game of the season did not go exactly as planned, as the Boston defense abandoned wonder kid Tuukka Rask and the Bruins were trounced by the Coyotes. The following game, Tim Thomas stepped back between the pipes and what many thought was just a hot start turned into a record setting season for Thomas and a historic season for the Bruins.

A running theme for the Bruins throughout their entire season was redemption. Tim Thomas, after a down year due to a bad hip, was eager to prove his first Vezina trophy was no fluke. Zdeno Chara played like a man possessed, quieting doubters who believed he should be stripped of his captaincy. The individual stories were plentiful for Boston but it was how they came together as a team to find redemption that defined them.

In the first round they met up with their hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal had dominated the Bruins in the regular season and were motivated to eliminate the Bruins after an unfortunate Zdeno Chara hit ended Max Pacioretty’s season.

Boston found themselves in an early 0-2 hole, playing a couple of uninspired games before a home town crowd. The doubt began to creep in for fans as they openly wondered if the Bruins had learned their lesson from prior seasons and if they really had the heart to bring home the Stanley Cup. This Bruins team had other ideas and soon proved they had in fact learned their lessons.

The Bruins won three straight games, putting Montreal on the brink before the Canadiens forced a seventh game. This was familiar territory for the Bruins and they once again had demons to exercise. A late Montreal goal tied the game and the Bruins were headed for overtime. The TD Garden had a nervous energy as fans wondered if their dear Bruins would fall yet again in a critical game seven.

New Boston hero and clutch playoff performer Nathan Horton eventually potted the game winner and with that one goal, the Bruins were on the path to redemption. They vanquished their ultimate rivals while overcoming an 0-2 hole for the first time in their history and did so in a dramatic seventh game. Maybe, just maybe these Bruins had what it takes.

The hockey gods saw it fit to really test the Bruins and as fate would have it they returned to the scene of the crime and met up with the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round. The script could not possibly have been written any better as Boston jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, chasing Flyers goalie Brian Boucher multiple times. Then came the fourth game and with it the horrid memories of last year. Again, this was a different Bruins team.

Boston swept the Flyers, refusing to give them any confidence and quickly stomping on any hopes the Flyers had of another epic comeback. Boston was heading to the Eastern Conference Finals, looking like a team on a mission.

Perhaps the emotion of vanquishing two rivals in a row got to them as Boston was soundly defeated in their first game against the Lightning in what was just another lesson the Bruins took to heart. They fought and clawed and battled the Lightning and found themselves in another game seven.

In the third period the game was deadlocked as both Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson refused to be beat. Nathan Horton again decided it was time to step up. Krejci and Horton stormed into the Lightning zone and Krejci spotted Horton on the opposite side of the crease. Krejci fed a pass to Horton that he quickly period. The TD Garden erupted, the Bruins held on and Boston was headed to the Stanley Cup Finals. Maybe, just maybe these Bruins had what it takes.

They met up with mighty Vancouver, a team that was supposed to dominate Boston and through the first two games Boston did their best to give the series to the Canucks. Vancouver, as great as they had been all season, did not dominate the Bruins as predicted but Boston just couldn’t get out of their own way as critical mistakes as key times put Boston in yet another 0-2 hole.

In the third game, it took the loss of playoff hero Nathan Horton to spark the brotherhood known as the Boston Bruins. Aarom Rome left his skates and laid out Nathan Horton on a late hit, knocking him out of the series. The bear had finally been poked enough and the Bruins awoke, winning two straight at home and tying the series.

The two teams exchanged another pair of home wins and Boston once again found themselves in a seventh game. Heading into the series finally, Boston has scored just twice in three games in Vancouver and almost everyone outside of Boston predicted Boston just did not have what it takes to beat the Canucks in Vancouver.

Just like they did the entire season, the Bruins set out to prove everyone wrong. They came out on a mission, with machine like efficiency. They gave Vancouver nothing and did their best to get in their heads early. They finally broke Luongo as Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron took over the game and the floodgates opened.

Tim Thomas shut the door as his teammates put up four goals and when the final buzzer rang, and entire city’s thirst was finally quenched as Zdeno Chara held the Stanley Cup high above his head. It was a story book season with an absolute perfect ending, the resilient Boston Bruins banding together to carry their hopes and dreams, and the hopes and dreams of an entire city. The ultimate redemption story ended with the Bruins capturing the ultimate prize and your Boston Bruins are Stanley Cup champions.

These Bruins had what it takes, and will for seasons to come.

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