The season didn’t end the way the Bruins would have liked, but it certainly was a season to remember for the Black and Gold. Here are 10 moments that defined just who the Bruins were in 2013, the season that almost never was.
Claude Julien’s ‘I’m the coach’ statement
The Bruins coach has taken his share of criticism during his tenure in Boston, and he’s well aware of it, often quipping he’s been here six years and been fired five times. But one thing he’s not afraid to do is stand by his decisions.
In March, as the team was struggling, Julien decided changes were in order, and he dropped Milan Lucic from the first line to the third. When asked why he made the move, his response was terse: “Because I can. Because I’m the coach.’’
It was humorous at the time, but also very telling about the control he has over his team and his players, including Lucic, supported the move.
Game 7 of the Bruins’ opening-round series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs was one of the greatest rallies in Boston sports history, and it showed that even when all odds were against them, the Bruins would fight to the bitter end.
The Bruins were down 4-1 with 10 minutes to go, yet somehow tied it in the final minute, then won in overtime.
The Maple Leafs proved to be the most difficult Eastern Conference playoff opponent for the Bruins, and many believed the momentum gained from the Game 7 rally led to dominating performances in the next two series vs. the Rangers and Penguins.
Gregory Campbell’s heroic shift
In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Gregory Campbell broke his leg when he blocked a Penguins shot as the Bruins defended against a Pittsburgh power play.
Then he finished his shift, playing for another 47 seconds while limping badly to aid his teammates any way he could, even tipping away a pass.
The gusty play was applauded across the NHL and showed the gritty resolve and certainly the team spirit of the Bruins.
“I’ve always felt like if you could get up, you should get up,’’ Campbell added. “I tried, I got up. I tried to get in the lane and prevent passes. Obviously I wasn’t very effective at that, but at least I tried to not be a liability as best I could.’’
In fact, he was an inspiration.
Andrew Ference’s ‘save’
A simple play in a late-April game illustrated the lengths to which the Bruins would go for one another. As they tried to preserve a 2-1 lead late in the third period against the Sabres, goalie Anton Khudobin needed to move to the top of the crease to make a play.
The puck bounced to Buffalo’s Drew Stafford, and it appeared he had an open net to shoot at, but defenseman Andrew Ference slid across the goal-mouth and kicked away Stafford’s shot.
The Bruins did end up losing in a shootout, but the point gained helped keep the Eastern Conference seeding race tight, and Ference’s play certainly exemplified the do-anything attitude in the Bruins’ dressing room.
Zdeno Chara vs. Alexei Emelin
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara wasted no time in defending teammate Tyler Seguin after he was blind-sided near mid-ice by the Canadiens’ Alexei Emelin in a March game at TD Garden, sending Seguin to the locker room.
Chara immediately pursued Emelin, knocked him to the ice, challenged him to fight, and pummeled him. It cost Chara 17 minutes of penalty time, but it bought him plenty of respect in the dressing room for defending his teammate.
It also sent a pretty clear message. Mess with one Bruin, you mess with them all.
Zdeno Chara vs. Sidney Crosby
It was a mismatch of epic proportions that likely benefitted both sides equally, but the image of Zdeno Chara staring down Penguins star Sidney Crosby after Crosby got a bit chippy at the end of the second period of Game 1 of their series was a moment to remember.
It’s likely standing up to the hulking Chara earned Crosby a big measure of credibility with his own teammates, but if ever a moment defined “Big, Bad Bruins,’’ this was it.
Bruins sweep Penguins
The Eastern Conference Finals were supposed to be a brilliant clash of styles, but in the end the Bruins’ heavy-hitting defensive game didn’t just get the better of the high-scoring and flashy Penguins, it made a mockery of them.
The Bruins swept the top-seeded Penguins out of the playoffs, with each game appearing to get easier as the Bruins relentlessly wore down the Penguins. The Penguins only scored two goals in four games.
The greatest national anthem ever
The Bruins were the host of Boston’s first major sporting event after the Boston Marathon bombings in April, and as a shocked city began the healing process, a show of solidarity provided a much-needed moment together.
After beginning the national anthem, Garden singer Rene Rancourt lowered his microphone and let the crowd take over. The bellowing, stirring rendition brought both tears and smiles as Boston showed its strength.
A side note: In an equally classy move, the Buffalo Sabres, the Bruins’ opponent that night, stayed on the ice after the game for a stick-salute to the Boston fans, the first of many gestures by Boston opponents who shared the pain of the marathon tragedy.
Game 2, first period
The Blackhawks were on fire from the moment Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals started, and their thorough domination of the first period of that game had many believing the Bruins had no chance.
But the Bruins only allowed one goal, and by the time the second period was under way, a different Bruins team was on the ice. They clawed their way back into it by shutting down the vaunted Blackhawks offense, then won in overtime.
17 shocking seconds
The Bruins were less than two minutes away from forcing the Stanley Cup Finals to a deciding Game 7, but it all unraveled when the Blackhawks first tied the score after pulling their goalie, then scored the game-winning goal 17 seconds later.
Bruins fans’ emotions went from we have this to OK we can win in overtime to holy cow we’re going to lose this right now.
Unfortunately, not all defining moments are positive, especially when a season ends in disapointment, but the shocking turn of events will be one of the moments that is remembered for a long time when the 2013 Bruins come up.