Welcome back to Last Word on Hockey’s summer series where we look at the biggest game in team history. Each day we will be back with a new team to look at. Looking at things like the lead-up, what happened, followed, and why it makes it the biggest game. The biggest game does not automatically mean a win, either. Sometimes, it can be a loss that set the franchise back massively. Sit back and enjoy as we break down all 31 team’s most important game. This is the Boston Bruins biggest game in franchise history. The full series is found here.
Bruins Biggest Game in Franchise History
Since the team was established in 1924, the Boston Bruins have had many important games throughout their history. But given what led up to their sixth Cup, their Game 7 win against the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final is the Boston Bruins biggest game.
Leading Up to Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final
Boston entered the playoffs as the third seed and worked their way to the Final where they played the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks. Vancouver was celebrating their 40th season as a team and looking for their first Stanley Cup. It seemed that that Canucks team showed every sign of hoisting the league’s trophy in 2011. That said, getting to the Cup Final added to making Game 7 the team’s biggest game.
If it didn’t seem like that before the series started, their 2-0 series lead looked like enough proof that they would win it. Nevertheless, following 8-1 and 4-0 losses, the Bruins made their way back. It was then a best-of-three series in which the Canucks inched closer with a 3-2 series lead. Boston evened the series again, which meant that the Bruins would play in their third Game 7 of the playoffs.
Despite the Bruins tying the series, it still looked like Vancouver would win the final game just based on the home team winning every game in the Cup Final. To the shock of some, patterns of the past do not decide what happens in a game.
June 15, 2011: Stanley Cup Final Game 7
Patrice Bergeron scored the game’s first goal in the opening period to give the Bruins a lead going into the second. He and Brad Marchand were the only two to score in the game, but each did it twice. Marchand’s first came from a wrap-around goal that started to diminish Vancouver’s chances.
Bergeron got his second on a breakaway in which he was tripped to earn a delayed penalty. Consequently, his momentum carried him and the puck across the goal line. The play was deemed to be a good goal and the Bruins had a 3-0 lead. Stellar goaltending from Tim Thomas ensured that Boston would hold on to the lead with his 37 saves.
Vancouver’s last attempt had Roberto Luongo watching from the bench. In the closing segments of the game, Brad Marchand’s empty-net goal sealed the game and the victory for Boston.
A 4-0 win may not look like a team’s most important game, but in Boston, the expectation is that their sports teams are winning a championship. And let’s be real, anything less is a disappointment. Their Game 7 victory holds the status as their biggest game because, without it, the greatness of their 2011 run is meaningless.
2011 Stanley Cup Run
Eastern Conference Quarterfinal
The Bruins began the playoffs against long-time rival Montreal Canadiens. In their all-time post-season history, the Canadiens had won 24 of the 32 meetings.
The Habs took the first two games of the series and it looked like the B’s would have an early exit, but they stole the next three games to take the series back and eventually won with a Game 7 overtime goal from Nathan Horton.
Eastern Conference Semifinal
Boston faced off against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round for the second year in a row. The matchup was particularly important because of what happened in the 2010 playoffs. As most of the hockey world knows, the Flyers pulled off a feat that only two other teams in the NHL had done at the time, which was come back from being down 3-0 to win the series.
For the 2011 series, the Bruins, like they did the year before, went up 3-0. It is typically a comfortable lead for any team, but given what that Flyers team had done to Boston, no one was celebrating yet. The Bruins 5-1 win in Game 4 gave relief to a team haunted by their past season.
Eastern Conference Final
The Bruins took on the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Lightning, who had just swept the top-seeded Washington Capitals. In Game 7 of that series, the Bruins scored a late goal to take a 1-0 lead. It’s not too often that a playoff game has such little scoring, but that lone goal from Horton was enough to earn his team a spot in their first Cup Final since 1990.
Extinguishing the Past
The Game 7 win eased all the prior losses the team had in the Cup Final. The Bruins had five consecutive Stanley Cup Final losses going into their series against Vancouver. They lost two to the Edmonton Oilers, including the 1988 Final where Boston looked like they didn’t deserve to be on the same ice as Wayne Gretzky’s Oilers. The team was swept and outscored 18-9 — excluding the game where the Boston Garden lights went out.
They also lost to the Canadiens in two consecutive Final appearances. Both series wins for the Habs came on Boston Garden ice. And in 1974, the Bruins lost the Cup to the Flyers in six games.
The win against Vancouver laid all kinds of things to rest for a weary Bruins organization that hadn’t won since ’72.
Future Cup Finals
The Bruins have been to two Stanley Cup Finals since 2011 and both have ended as losses. Losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and St. Louis Blues this year would be far more shattering if the Bruins had also lost to the Canucks, which is why the 2011 Game 7 win is the biggest win in Boston Bruins history.
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