In 2013, the Boston Bruins ended their season following a heartbreaking Game 6 loss in the Stanley Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks. A year later, at the end of the regular season, the 2013-14 Boston Bruins were on top of the league. Boston racked up 117 points and earned a Presidents’ Trophy for themselves. It seemed that a promising regular season would include another Stanley Cup, their second in four years.
The Lost Greatness of the 2013-14 Boston Bruins Season
Trade with Dallas
To revamp the roster, general manager Peter Chiarelli led the front office in some moves to bolster the already-strong team. In a deal with the Dallas Stars, he sent Rich Peverley, Tyler Seguin and defenseman Ryan Button in return for Loui Eriksson, Matt Fraser, Reilly Smith and Joe Morrow.
The move helped the Bruins greatly. It was a move to take care of Boston’s immediate future, which a lot of teams on the brink of a championship will do. The move left a lot of fans angry, though, as they appreciated Seguin’s success and long-term potential as a Bruin. This speculation has reigned true as all four players received by the Bruins in the deal are no longer on the roster.
A big addition to the team that year was Jarome Iginla, who was not re-signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. A season before, Iginla was looking to sign with a Cup-contending team. Just as the Bruins were emerging to be the favourite, Iginla and the Penguins reached an agreement. It was later revealed that Iginla chose Pittsburgh because he wanted to play alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. After Boston swept the Penguins out of the Eastern Conference Final in the 2012-13 playoffs, Iginla ditched Pittsburgh.
Losing Key Players
Despite the exciting signings, the Bruins lost a handful of core players. Andrew Ference signed with the Edmonton Oilers, his hometown team. The Columbus Blue Jackets picked up Nathan Horton, who had begun to lose his touch following concussions – most notably, the hit from Aaron Rome in 2011 that ended Horton’s year, as well as a serious back injury.
The Bruins also lost backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, who was signed by the Carolina Hurricanes to accompany Cam Ward. And as one hockey legend joined the team, Jaromir Jagr left as he signed with the New Jersey Devils.
Locking Up Their Stars
Of the returning players, Boston gave a contract extension to one of their best players, Patrice Bergeron. He was given a $52 million contract extension over eight years. Tuukka Rask was also signed to an eight-year deal, worth $56 million.
The Bruins got off to an incredible start to their 90th year of existence. In the first two months of the season, Boston lost only seven games in regulation. The moment that defined the regular season for Boston was during the month of March. The Bruins lost their first game of the month but did not suffer a regulation defeat again until April. Their 15-1-1 record in March was enough to lock up the first spot in the Atlantic Division.
January 28th marked the first time Tim Thomas played in TD Garden since he left the team in 2012. He was welcomed back with 41 shots on goal – six of which went in.
After a successful regular season, the Bruins faced off against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of the playoffs. The Red Wings finished with only 93 points in the regular season. However, they defeated Boston three out of the four times they played, outscoring them 13-7.
In the playoffs, however, the Red Wings only scored six goals in their five-game series against the Bruins. Boston was clearly the dominant team in the series. Despite losing the first game, they played at the level of a Cup-contending team.
The two teams traded wins through the series. Montreal stole Game 1 in overtime. Boston rebounded to take Game 2 before the Habs regained the series lead in Game 3. Boston then won two straight and looked to close out the series in the sixth game.
Montreal was not finished though. They won Game 6 by a score of 4-0 and sent the series back to Boston.
In Game 7, the Bruins took 12 more shots and won 18% more face-offs, but took two more penalties and had eight more giveaways, which proved to be costly as Max Pacioretty scored the second goal, and the eventual game-winner, because of Boston’s inability to retain possession. On that play, the Bruins turned the puck over three times in their own zone before Montreal’s David Desharnais stole it and dished a pass to Pacioretty, giving him the easy open-net goal.
A game-tying opportunity came just over four minutes into the third, but a Milan Lucic redirection bounced off the post and was cleared away.
The final dagger in the heart of the Presidents’ Trophy winners was when a Daniel Briere pass ricocheted off the skate of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara and found its way past Rask to give the Habs a late 3-1 lead.
As the clock ran out, it was the Montreal bench that was overjoyed. The TD Garden crowd booed as they turned their backs to file out to the nearest exit. Despite the upgraded roster, Boston’s journey back to the Cup was stopped short with a second-round loss to the Habs.
BOSTON, MA – MAY 14: Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins looks on during Game Seven of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens at the TD Garden on May 14, 2014, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)