The 365 days known as 2009 was quite the year for the Boston Bruins. The best B’s team of the decade? I’d argue yes, especially since this was the only team to get past the first round of the playoffs, let alone qualify. But as far as games were concerned, there were many a gem. Some blowouts, others nail-biters that went down to the very last goal. There were some games that would come close to making this list, and others that would belong on a bottom five list. All in all, 2009 was good to the Bruins and showed a glimpse of promise into 2010 and beyond.
5) Boston Bruins vs. Carolina Hurricanes, 10.3.09
Talk about storylines. Boston’s second game of the season was billed as a marquee contest between two, new bitter rivals around the NHL. The B’s were seeking vengeance from their game 7, overtime loss against Carolina in the 2008-09 postseason. Of course, this all went down in front of a Boston based crowd that watched the Bruins’ once-mighty offense fall apart against the Washington Capitals one night earlier. Redemption was served in the way of Boston though, with a pummeling of the Hurricanes, 7-2.
The game was special since former Bruin, Aaron Ward, was playing on the other side after an offseason trade to clear cap space in order for Boston to sign replacement Derek Morris. After the once fan-favorite Ward was sucker punched by Carolina’s Scott Walker in game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal, the big, bad, Bruins wanted nothing more than to run rampant over Carolina in their first opportunity. Seven different Bruins scored in this game which most resembled the excitement and flashy offense that the 2008-09 Boston club was known for. Revenge certainly was sweet for the B’s as Carolina continues to struggle in the NHL today. Here’s the fight of the night as Shawn Thornton takes down another former Bruin, Andrew Alberts.
4) Boston Bruins vs New Jersey Devils, 3.22.09
This isn’t one of those games that stuck out in 2009 but spoke volumes as the Bruins were able to gain ground against the 2nd place Devils in the Eastern Conference. It’s also the game that spoked Boston’s six-game winning streak that helped them clinch home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. In this 4-1 victory, the Bruins clinched their playoff berth.
Boston’s offense flexed their muscles against future hall-of-famer Martin Brodeur scoring four times, all by different skaters. Tim Thomas was solid in net, allowing only an Andy Greene goal in the second period. The game set up the rest of the season for Boston, assuring that regardless of wins and losses, the B’s would be in the playoffs. Luckily for the fans, they did finish on top of the Conference. As far as the playoffs…well…here’s a fan-shot video of the Bruins celebrating after their win.
3) Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs, 12.5.09
Kesselmania, I believe, is what the pundits were calling it around NESN. More overplayed than the WWE’s gimmick, the game marked the return of Phil Kessel to the Garden. It also marked the debut of “Kes-sel, Kes-sel” jeers from the crowd every time the speedy forward touched the puck. Rightfully so, depending on who you’re reading. All season, the game’s date was circled by Bruins fans anxious to take a look at the former first round Boston pick in his new threads. Would Phil the Thrill light up the B’s and split the defense much like another number 81 is famous for?
No, he wouldn’t. He didn’t even come close, actually. In fact, Boston’s starting goalie, Tuukka Rask had more points in that game than Kessel–one. All of the elements were there–a Marc Savard hat trick in his first game after signing his extension, young defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s first score and an almost perfect game from Rask, also a former Maple Leaf. Kessel finished with two shots on goal and a -3 rating in a 7-2 Toronto loss. And this was the guy everyone was freaking out about? Here’s the Boychuk goal, a rocket from the point.
2) Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens, 4.22.09
There’s a really great Dave Matthews Band lyric that describes this game quite nicely. “Comfort to count the battles won after the war is lost.” The ultimate goal of a Stanley Cup was not met in the 2009 playoffs, but hey, the Bruins did sweep the Montreal Canadiens in the first round. That’s gotta count for something…right? The last three playoff series against the two teams all went in favor of the Canadiens, upsetting the top seeded Boston team in both the 2002 and 2004 playoffs. In the previous postseason, a number-eight Bruins team took the number one seeded Montreal squad to a seventh game in which the B’s looked lost, tired and well, pretty bad. Not so much this time around.
I can remember holding my breath, not moving from my spot in the couch and actually making sure no one around me moved either. Seriously, how many B’s fans have been snake bitten before? Sweeping the Canadiens would be almost too good to be true. Among other story-lines, former Hab Michael Ryder netted two goals against the same team that benched him versus the Bruins during last season’s playoffs. Those crazy Habs fans booed Carey Price right around the time that Price tried to “hush” the crowd (vintage Patrick Roy) while Mike Komisarek cat-scratched Milan Lucic and got tossed out of his last game in Montreal. Nothing like a “Ca-rey, Ca-rey” chant by your own home crowd. The debris scattered around the ice once the game had ended, as did the Montreal centennial celebration. Did hell freeze over? For a night, it did. Thanks to Jack Edwards for these words of wisdom on the Montreal season.
1) Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens, 4.9.09
Under the words “bitter rivalries between storied franchises” you’ll find the Montreal and Boston logos pictured–on separate sides of the page, of course. After watching this game live in person, I told my girlfriend, parents, best friend and even strangers on my flight the next morning that this game might have been the best hockey game I’ve ever seen. The last home game for Boston and a playoff clinching game for Montreal, the contest truly had all of the reasons in which we go to hockey games: fights, goals, intense crowd interactions and a home team victory (5-4) in extra time sans shootout.
Who can forget Lucic’s come-from-behind face gauge on Komisarek? Or what about the Patrice Bergeron to Mark Recchi two-on-one break in overtime to end the game? There was what seemed to be a fight after every goal, a shove after every whistle, and a “Habs suck” chant after, well, everything. There was no better time to be a Bruins fan than after this game, riding off a high that only a Stanley Cup win could touch.
Which takes us to 2010…