The Boston Bruins came out of the lockout-shortened 2013 season two games short of the ultimate prize: winning the Stanley Cup. So they knew they would need to kick it up a notch if they wanted to hoist the Cup for the second time in four seasons. What happened? The Bruins put together one of the best seasons in team history. The work is not done, as they must still win 16 more games in order to complete their quest. But with the 2014 NHL Playoffs set to begin this week, here’s a look back on the Bruins regular season that saw them finish with the best record in the NHL. Next
Opening night: Bruins take down Lightning
In the first game of the 2013-14 regular season, the Bruins took on the Tampa Bay Lightning, who, thanks to realignment, are now divisional rivals with the Bruins in the new Atlantic Division. The Bruins got on the board halfway through the first period, when Chris Kelly was awarded a shorthanded penalty shot and beat Tampa Bay goaltender Anders Lindback. Valtteri Fippula, who came to Tampa Bay from the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent during the summer, tied the game 10:32 into the second period.
Milan Lucic gave the Bruins the lead back with a minute to play in the second, getting the season off on the right foot after struggling during the shortened 2013 regular season. Patrice Bergeron netted the final goal of the night 4:02 into the third period, scoring the Bruins’ second shorthanded goal of the night. Next
Nov. 5: Tyler Seguin returns to Boston
In one of the most headline-grabbing deals in recent Bruins history, the B’s made fireworks of their own on July 4 when they brokered a trade with the Dallas Stars that sent 21-year-old forward and their former No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin to Dallas, along with Rich Peverley and Ryan Button, in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser, and Joe Morrow.
On Nov. 5, the Stars visited the TD Garden for the first time since the trade, and Seguin faced the crowd that had applauded him for three seasons. The Garden faithful were kind at first to Seguin, cheering when his video tribute was played on the scoreboard, then started to jeer later in the third period when it looked like the Bruins were going to take the victory.
The Bruins shot themselves in the foot with just under 2:30 to play in regulation, when a giveaway in their zone forced Dennis Seidenberg to take down Vernon Fiddler from behind, leading to a penalty shot, which Fiddler converted to tie the game. Neither team would score the rest of the third period and in overtime, so the game went to a shootout. Next
Kevan Miller gets called up to Boston
The Bruins defensive depth got its first test on Nov. 19, when Dennis Seidenberg was forced to leave a game with the Rangers after suffering a lower body injury. Already sporting three young players on the blue line – Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton, and Torey Krug – they had to call up another, 26-year-old Kevan Miller, who had played 135 games for the Providence Bruins from 2010-2013, but had not suited up in an NHL game.
Miller played his first game with Boston on Nov. 21 against the St. Louis Blues. He scored his first NHL goal Dec. 8 against the Maple Leafs and never looked back, staying up with Boston for the remainder of the season and taking more of a starting role after Adam McQuaid went down with a leg injury. He provides a physical, right hand shot to pair with Krug on the third defensive line. Next
Reilly Smith’s remarkable breakout year
In the trade that sent Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars, the main piece the Bruins got back that everyone focused on was Loui Eriksson. Eriksson was supposed to come in and be the strong two-way forward to solidify the second line in a way that Seguin never could. Eriksson’s first season with the B’s saw him hampered by two concussions, and when he was forced from the lineup, Claude Julien decided to move Smith up to fill in Patrice Bergeron’s right side.
The move worked in more ways than one, as Smith developed a scoring knack up on that line, but also brought out the best from a slumping Brad Marchand, who had been struggling early in the year. Marchand seemed to get back into his rhythm with Smith on the opposite wing. Smith and Marchand had a friendly back-and-forth for the team lead in goals through the first half of the year, and even when Smith’s production fell off in the second half, the chemistry had woken up the scoring of both Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Next
Dennis Seidenberg tears his ACL and MCL
The Bruins defense suffered a major setback on Dec. 27, when Dennis Seidenberg left their game against Ottawa with a serious leg injury, with the team later finding out he had torn his ACL and MCL and would likely be out for the remainder of the season. It was a huge blow to the Bruins’ defense, as Seidenberg was regarded as the Bruins’ best defender besides Zdeno Chara, and was irreplaceable.
The loss of Seidenberg was immediately evident over the next month, as the Bruins defense just was not the same without him. Their normally lock tight penalty kill was suddenly vulnerable, as it seemed that they gave up more power play goals than not. The defense just was not the same without Seidenberg in the lineup, and although Seidenberg has begun to skate again in recent weeks, he is not expected to return anytime soon, and the Bruins will have to lean on a young defense in order to make a deep playoff run. Next
Bruins finally solve Canadiens
Despite how well the Bruins had played through the 2013-14 season, one hump they could not get over was taking down the archrivals: the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins hadn’t beaten the Canadiens since February 2013, and were riding a 0-4-1 mark against the Habs going into their March 12 matchup in Montreal. The Bruins were currently on a five-game winning streak, but it looked bleak heading into the Bell Centre as the two teams took the ice.
This night, however, proved to be different than all others before it. After a shaky first 20 minutes, in which the Bruins gave up 14 shots and were thankful to be tied 0-0 going into the second period, the B’s erupted for three unanswered goals in the second period to take a 3-0 lead into the third. Zdeno Chara upped the lead to 4-0 just 23 seconds into the third, and while David Desharnais broke the shutout by scoring 2:03 later, the B’s shut the Canadiens down and put to rest the notion that the Habs undoubtedly had the Bruins’ number. Next
Bruins trade for Meszaros at the deadline
After the almost-deal to bring Jarome Iginla to the Bruins at last year’s trade deadline, and the actual one that got Jaromir Jagr to Boston, the Bruins looked to be in decent shape going into the deadline this season. The offense was playing strong, with no holes as management could see, so the Bruins decided to go after a veteran defenseman to shore up the blue line for the remainder of the year. Possible trades for big names, like the Islanders’ Andrew MacDonald, the Senators’ Chris Phillips, and Panthers’ Mike Weaver, never came to fruition.
With only hours left until the deadline, GM Peter Chiarelli put the final touches on what he believed to be the best deal for the team: acquiring Andrej Meszaros from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for a conditional third-round draft pick. Meszaros wasn’t the flashiest named on the board – he had scored five goals and 12 assists in 38 games with the Flyers – but he is a veteran, left shot defenseman whom the Bruins believed to be the best fit for the team. Since coming to Boston, Meszaros has played 14 games and tallied two goals and three assists with a plus-minus of +4. Next
Bruins send five players to the Olympics
For the first time since 2010, the NHL was shut down in the middle of the season for two weeks so that its players could represent their home countries in the 2014 Winter Olympics. The B’s sent five players to Sochi to compete for five different nations: Patrice Bergeron went to play for Canada, Zdeno Chara for Slovakia, David Krejci for the Czech Republic, Tuukka Rask for Finland, and Loui Eriksson for Sweden.
Chara’s Slovakian squad was bounced in the elimination round by Krejci and the Czech Republic, who then fell to the US in the quarterfinals. Rask and Finland fell to Eriksson and Sweden in the semifinals, but earned a bronze medal by shutting out the US in the third-place game. Bergeron’s Canadian team won their second straight gold medal by beating Sweden in the goal medal game. Next
Bruins rattle off third longest winning streak in team history
With the Bruins going 8-1-2 in the 11 games heading into the Olympic break, perhaps the team wished that there was no break to begin with, lest nothing break the strong rhythm they had been playing and winning with. The first two games after the break might have suggested an Olympic break hangover, as the B’s dropped an overtime loss to the Sabres, then were taken down by the Capitals to begin the month of March. Having not dropped three straight games all season, the B’s beat down the Rangers 6-3 in New York on March 2 to get back in the win column.
No one could have predicted what would happen over the next three weeks. The Bruins just kept on winning. There were blowouts, like their 5-1 laugher over Carolina on March 15, and there were close ones, like their 4-3 shootout win over Tampa Bay on March 8, but the team did not end a game without securing two points for 23 days, a 12-game winning streak that placed third on the franchise’s all-time list.
The streak finally fell on March 24 in a shootout loss to the Canadiens, but the B’s followed that game with three more wins to end the month of March 15-1-1, bringing home a remarkable 31 of 34 possible points for the entire month. The Bruins’ strong month also lifted them equal to and past the Pittsburgh Penguins for the No. 1 overall seed in the Eastern Conference and over the St. Louis Blues in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. The streak set the Bruins up in great position for the final push through April and into the playoffs, and also brought the security that the team cannot possibly play more on the road than at home for however long their playoff run goes, a big plus for a team that boasts the best home record in the league. Next
Jarome Iginla passes John “Chief” Bucyk on all-time goals list
From the start to the finish of the 2013-14 regular season, Jarome Iginla and the Boston Bruins have been a perfect match. After things didn’t work out for Iginla in Pittsburgh following a trade deadline deal last season, the 36-year-old experienced a resurgence in 2013-14, meshing perfectly on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic and forming one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL.
Starting the season with 530 goals, good for 32d place on the all-time goals list, Iginla moved his way all the way up to tying Guy Lafleur for 24th, passing some very impressive names along the way. One name he passed stood out in particular with Bruins fans. On March 18, he tied Bruins legend John Bucyk for 25th, and then bumped him on March 23. Currently set to become a free agent at the season’s end, the Bruins need to figure out way to keep Iginla in Boston long term, because in just one season he has become one of the most important pieces to a strong Stanley Cup contender. Next
Capping it off
In the midst of their 12-game winning streak, the Bruins quickly began to rattle off the checkmarks needed in securing the optimal position for their playoff push. The team punched its ticket to the playoffs for the seventh straight season March 21 against the Avalanche, then clinched the Atlantic Division, and a guaranteed top-two spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, nine days later after beating the Capitals.
The main goal, however, was to secure home ice throughout the first three rounds of the playoffs, a task that the Bruins knew would give them a huge upper hand in getting to the Stanley Cup Finals for the third time in four seasons. The Bruins had been looking up at the Pittsburgh Penguins for most of the regular season, but thanks to their 12-game winning streak, along with some mediocre play by the Penguins, the B’s passed Pittsburgh and held on for good. The Bruins clinched the best record in the Eastern Conference on April 5 after beating the Flyers at home 5-2.
The only thing left for the Bruins to play for in the regular season was the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team with the highest point total that season, an award the Bruins had not won since 1989-90. The Anaheim Ducks got within three points of the Bruins with three games to play, but the B’s clinched it with a 4-1 win over the Sabres on April 12, heading into the playoffs knowing that every series they play in, they will have home ice. Back to the beginning
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