The 2019-20 NHL season lasted nearly a full calendar year, enough time for teams to experience a massive range of emotions. The Boston Bruins began with a fiery start and alternated hot and cold streaks until COVID-19 halted the regular season. The Toronto bubble took some adjusting, but Boston found a way to stay for another round before bowing out in the Eastern Conference Semifinal. It wasn’t quite the season many envisioned for the team leading the league in points and wins at the break, but it had its share of high points.
10. Bruins Return to Ice
While it’s hard to put any loss on a “top moments” list — and an exhibition one at that — seeing the Black and Gold on the ice for the first time in 142 days brought back an important part of life on July 30.
The NHL suspended operations March 11, and the Bruins played their final regular season game the day before. David Pastrnak showed he hadn’t lost his scoring touch with a second-period goal, but Boston couldn’t overcome three first-period tallies by Columbus. Still, hockey was back. That was what mattered.
9. Bergeron’s Christmas Hot Streak
Goalies kept finding plastic presents behind them in the net courtesy of Patrice Bergeron over the holiday season. He scored two goals in three straight games from Dec. 21-27. That six-day spurt accounted for nearly 20 percent of his season output (31 goals). The third game was a 3-0 win at Buffalo that ended the Sabres’ five-game home winning streak.
8. Rask Shuts Out Stanley Cup Rematch
Nothing can repay the emotional debt of a Game 7 loss in the Stanley Cup Final. That didn’t mean it wasn’t sweet to see Tuukka Rask stop 26 shots to put the St. Louis Blues in their place in the teams’ only meeting of the year on Oct. 27.
Three Bruins found the net, including Anders Bjork’s first tally since 2018, in a 3-0 win. If only they’d played like that last last June.
7. Shutout Extends Win Streak to 8
Jaroslav Halak and the Bruins were firing on all cylinders on Dec. 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes. The defense only allowed 24 shots, and he stopped all of them. It was Halak’s second shutout of the year and No. 49 in his career. That victory was Boston’s eighth in a row, the Bruins’ longest winning streak of the year. Charlie Coyle and David Krejci scored 1:08 apart in the third period.
6. Krug Ends Madness vs. Minnesota
Boston trailed the Minnesota Wild 4-2 a little over five minutes into the third period on Nov. 23. Krejci saw to the deficit in due time. He put away two goals late with the goalie pulled over a 48-second span: with 1:05 left to cut the lead to one and with seven seconds remaining to tie the game. Torey Krug completed the comeback 2:19 into overtime after he took the puck the length of the ice and bisected the Wild’s defense after crossing the blue line.
5. Season-High 8 Goals vs. Canadiens
Do you want to build a snowman? The Bruins made one after an avalanche of goals on Nov. 26 against the Montreal Candiens. They converted 33 percent of their 24 shots and moved the puck well to rack up 10 assists.
Pastrnak had a hat trick, while five other Bruins scored. Coyle (two assists), Sean Kuraly (three assists) and Brad Marchand (two assists) also tallied three points. It was Boston’s highest scoring output since Oct. 13, 2018 against the Detroit Red Wings.
4. Pastrnak’s 4-Goal Game Fuels Hot Start
This list is like an Italian dinner: a lot of Pasta. Pastrnak announced his presence in the scoring race early, working Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson four times Oct. 14. The 4-2 victory was Boston’s fifth win in its first six games and set the tone for a prolific year.
3. Pastrnak’s 13-Game Point Streak
Pastrnak tied Alexander Ovechkin for the league lead with 48 goals, and his most prolific stretch came from the start of October to Nov. 5. He authored a 13-game point streak, which set a career high.
Pastrnak compiled 15 goals and 15 assists, and the Bruins went 10-1-2 across the streak. He also added a 12-game point streak later in the season.
2. Chara Reaches 1,500 Career Games
No player has been more synonymous with the Boston Bruins over the past 15 years than the captain Zdeno Chara. The towering defenseman was given the C in October of 2006 and has been the backbone of the defense ever since.
He joined a rarified club on Nov. 5 against the Canadiens when he played in his 1,500th NHL game. Only 20 other men have accomplished the feat. Chara appeared in 53 more games during the season and sits 15th all-time. He ranks third among active players behind former Bruin Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks (1,636) in ninth and Patrick Marleau of the Pittsburgh Penguins in fifth (1,723).
1. Overtime Thriller to Open 1st Round
Boston needed a spark after starting their time in the Toronto playoff bubble 0-3 in the seeding round robin. The Bruins dropped from the top seed to No. 4, where the hard-charging Hurricanes awaited. Both teams played to a dead standstill through four periods, each answering goals in every frame of regulation before a scoreless first OT.
Then Bergeron delivered a winner after a moment of stick-handling brilliance from Pastrnak. That goal put the Bruins up 1-0 in a series they’d win 4-1, but more importantly it showed the suddenness they were capable of scoring with.
A Season of “What Ifs?”
Ultimately, 2019-20 will be the season of “what if?” for the Bruins. They looked like the best team in hockey for long stretches of the regular season. Pastrnak was a threat for the scoring title and a legitimate individual awards contender. Who knows what could have happened in a different timeline where they play out the rest of the 82 games, likely win the Presidents’ Trophy and earn home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. What happened in Toronto will dull the luster of the season, but we’ll keep some top-shelf memories.
Kyle grew up in Colorado before relocating to the East Coast in 2015. He’s written for newspapers in Colorado and Massachusetts. Find him at a punk show or brewery.