By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Let’s be real: We’re bored. I’m bored, you’re bored, and we’re stuck self-quarantining for the rest of month. At least.
We’re also stuck doing this without the benefit of live sports. It seems every sport you do find gets taken away from you almost immediately. I actually watched some Australian football and next thing I knew that was gone, too.
(Now imagine me trying to justify my existence without the benefit of live sports?)
But it doesn’t have to be completely terrible.
So for as long as this COVID-19 pandemic ruins our days, I’ll be here writing stories and content you want to read or see me mindlessly rant about. It’s basically a reader’s request month (probably months if we’re being realistic), and I’m happy to help however possible. Got something you wanna read about? Send your ideas to me on Twitter (@_TyAnderson) or on our Facebook. Or if you prefer the comfort of privacy, email them to CoronaTyrus2020[at]gmail.com.
The series kicks off with a request from our friend Jeremy.
‘Favorites’ is extremely subjective, obviously. The end results of this likely won’t shock you, but I’ll approach it from a mix of most entertaining and enjoyable series and what series were just straight-up miserable or boring or rage-inducing.
20. 2017 Atlantic Division semifinals vs. Senators
After a two-year break from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins made their postseason return in an opening round series against… the Senators. BLEH. It was good to get back in the dance, but this series absolutely stunk, as it featured an Erik Karlsson takeover against a battered Boston defense corps hanging on by a thread. It was a nice introduction to Sean “Big Goals Only” Kuraly, however, as it was Kuraly who forced a Game 6 with a double-overtime goal in Game 5.
19. 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Capitals
This series will piss me off as long as I live, and I don’t think it gets the proper wrath it deserves from the majority of the fanbase. Coming off a Stanley Cup the previous season, the Bruins entered the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs going against a Capitals team led by an interim coach and starting Braden Holtby in net. (Holtby, mind you, had made just 21 NHL appearances over two seasons to that point.) As you may recall, the series ended in a Game 7 overtime loss for the Bruins, but there was a ton to hate about it beyond the end result; David Krejci got bonked in the head by a pane of glass that fell out of place and directly onto him during the team’s Game 1 overtime win celebration and wasn’t the same, all seven games were decided by a single goal, and the series featured three day games because NBC is straight-up obsessed with daytime hockey for some bizarre reason (this is when the Bruins were notoriously bad in matinees, too).
And just because we’re picking at an old scab for me, consider this: Had the Bruins won this series, they would’ve gone on to face the (eventual East champion) Devils in the second round. The Bruins went 4-0 and outscored N.J. 18-8 in four head-to-heads that season. That Boston team was talented enough to defeat either the Rangers or Flyers (what would’ve been the other second-round series in the East), and it would’ve set them up for a Stanley Cup Final meeting with the Kings. Jonathan Quick was on another planet that run, yes, but a Tim Thomas vs. Quick battle would’ve been one for the ages. Oh, and the Bruins were also a perfect 2-0-0 and scored six goals on 47 shots against Quick during the regular season, and only the Red Wings had better success against Quick that season than Boston, so just add that to your list of could-have-beens.
18. 2014 Atlantic Division semifinals vs. Red Wings
This was a five-game series win for the Bruins, but I’m amazed if you can remind much of anything from this series. It was a big bowl of nothing after the Red Wings made you gasp a lil’ bit after stealing Game 1 in Boston. But overall, you knew the majority of Detroit’s roster was on the back nine and had no business hanging with the Presidents’ Trophy-winning B’s.
17. 2018 Atlantic Division finals vs. Lightning
The Bruins won Game 1 in Tampa and then suffered four straight defeats at the hands of the Lightning. This series was the first eye-opening moment for a lot of the Black and Gold’s younger skaters, as well as Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, and they were all better off for it based on what happened the following season and even 2019-20 so far.
16. 2014 Atlantic Division finals vs. Canadiens
This series was so damn stupid. The Canadiens scored on like every single breakaway they had, Dale Weise claimed that a goal celebration was disrespectful, people on Twitter for some weird reason searched the N-word whenever P.K. Subban did something of note (because that’s the sign of a healthy person) and forced him to make some crazy-long statement where he said that he didn’t believe Boston was a racist city, and the Bruins got pantsed by Montreal’s fourth line.
(And this really isn’t relevant to the series, but ex-Canadiens coach Michel Therrien always looked like Vigo The Carpathian from Ghostbusters II if he quit the whole sorcery, world domination business and became a real estate agent.)
15. 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Rangers
The Rangers were a dead team walking and we didn’t even get Spicy John Tortorella. But Torey Krug, who was only recalled because the B’s lost half of their defensemen by the end of their first-round series with the Maple Leafs, coming out nowhere and straight-up ruining Henrik Lundqvist’s life for an entire series is something that we’ll never forget.
14. 2013 Stanley Cup Final vs. Blackhawks
Nobody wants to talk about this, but this Cup Final kinda stunk. You had an excellent, marathon Game 1 (the Bruins’ empty-net misses are why we’re all gonna die like six years before we’re supposed to), but the rest of the series really lacked any key moments. We’re all blinded by the ‘Original Six’ aspect of it all, which is always nice, but this series should have been more. It was also just the B’s luck to have their own mini-dynasty halted by the best group of this era.
13. 2019 Atlantic Division finals vs. Blue Jackets
This is when Tuukka Rask found his groove in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Sergei Bobrovsky came into the series on fire after his four-game sweep over the historically-good Lightning in round one, and Rask upped his game over Bob’s as the series progressed.
12. 2019 Eastern Conference finals vs. Hurricanes
Winning the East should probably crack the top ten of this, I know, but this four-game series sweep was honestly never in doubt. Not once. The Hurricanes had a strong opening first period in Game 3, but once the Bruins survived that early onslaught, scored and took control of that first game in Carolina’s barn, you knew it was officially over.
11. 2010 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Sabres
This 2010 team had no business winning a single playoff series, but they really did luck out in the final week of the regular season, and finagled their way in at the No. 6 seed in the East. That brought them a first-round matchup with the Northeast-best Sabres, who were led by Ryan Miller fresh off his run as Team USA’s best weapon at the 2010 Winter Olympics. But this series had a lot of heat; Johnny Boychuk killed a guy, Dennis Wideman came to life after what was one of the worst regular seasons of any Boston defenseman over the last 15 years, and Miroslav Satan (signed for like $45 in the middle of the eason) torched his old team. This series is extremely underrated when we talk about great opening rounds in this era.
10. 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Flyers
Marc Savard coming back after a month and a half break due to concussion problems and scoring the overtime goal in a straight-up wild Game 1 will always be one of the franchise’s great moments. It’s just a shame how it all ended, with the Bruins being up 3-0 in the series — and in Game 7 — and losing 4-3. It was an epic choke job, but it was one that helped spark some changes the Bruins needed to make to win a Stanley Cup the following year. It was the lowest of lows, and it was almost completely believable by the time the dust settled (something you didn’t think you’d say when up 3-0), but in terms of entertainment and what it did for the franchise, it was an extremely important series.
9. 2011 Eastern Conference semifinals vs. Flyers
What’s a Cup run without exorcising some demons? The Bruins did exactly that in their second-round series against Philly in 2011. David Krejci, who was knocked out of the 2010 series on a brutal hit from Mike Richards, finished this four-game sweep with four goals and 10 points, and Tim Thomas had a downright ridiculous Game 2, with 52 saves in a 3-2 win.
8. 2013 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Maple Leafs
Milan Lucic was aware what was going to happen had the Bruins lost Game 7 to the Leafs. It was likely that Claude Julien was going to be fired (that came almost four full years later), and the Bruins were going to drastically shake up their locker room with some big trades in pursuit of cap flexibility (and another run). So what did Lucic do? He went into takeover mode in the third period, straight-up bullied the Leafs, and helped force an improbable overtime won by some Patrice Bergeron heroics. Another crazy thing from that overtime: If you go back and rewatch it, Jaromir Jagr limps off after his first shift of the overtime. He comes back for a few more shifts, but then disappears again to attend to an apparent equipment issue. That reunites Tyler Seguin, who struggled that season and postseason (and was traded to Dallas in the offseason), with Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Seguin then digs and digs and digs in front of the Toronto net to help create that overtime goal.
And a little inside baseball garbage for you: When the playoffs come, the press box gets really, really tight. That series, my seat was right next to all the Toronto coaches and scouts in a makeshift box of their own (it was a curtain). When the Leafs went up 4-1, and even when the game was 4-2, every other scout in the building made their way over to the Toronto box and congratulated them on advancing to the next round. Oh boy, did that ‘box’ get angry and slam some things shortly after that.
7. 2018 Atlantic Division semifinals vs. Maple Leafs
A terrible Game 7 start was salvaged by a signature third-period comeback. This series remains Jake DeBrusk’s best work.
6. 2019 Stanley Cup Final vs. Blues
This series wasted so many incredible moments, but damn if it wasn’t a fantastic series. I mean, think about how many moments that no longer matter as much as they should because of that wet fart Game 7; Torey Krug’s hit on Rob Thomas, Zdeno Chara’s pregame ovation before Game 5, Tuukka Rask’s 15-win redemption tour. Even the bull gang yelling at Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. All wasted. But again, what a series and what an experience for some of B’s future best.
(I’m seriously hoping we get a rematch between these bitter rivals this season.)
5. 2011 Eastern Conference quarterfinals vs. Canadiens
A rare long layoff between games allowed the Bruins to escape to Lake Placid and what followed changed everything. Shoutout to Michael Ryder’s ball-hockey goalie skills coming in handy. This was also the birth of Nathan Horton, who had never played in the postseason prior to this series, becoming one of Boston’s great clutch goal scorers.
4. 2019 Atlantic Division semifinals vs. Maple Leafs
Up 3-2 with the series making its way back to Toronto, the Maple Leafs finally had the Bruins on the ropes. That was until Tuukka Rask and Boston’s power play came to life in Game 6 before handling Game 7 with some key contributions from the bottom-sixers of their forward group. This was also a huge win for the Bruins in the sense that they proved that John Tavares, a player they unsuccessfully tried to woo the previous summer, wasn’t going to be the guy that titled this rivalry.
3. 2011 Eastern Conference finals vs. Lightning
Believe the hype: Game 7 of this series is one of the greatest hockey games ever played. But don’t sleep on Game 5, either. That one was another absolutely fantastic display between these teams. I still have no idea how Tim Thomas got his paddle on that Steve Downie chance. Lightning coach Guy Boucher had the best way to sum it up: “Thomas is makin’ miracles.”
2. 2013 Eastern Conference finals vs. Penguins
It’s rare that a four-game sweep packs the punch this series did, but this was Boston finally thumping the Penguins the way everybody dreamed. You had Zdeno Chara and Sidney Crosby going face-to-face off the jump, Brad Marchand punking out Matt Cooke, and Gregory Campbell finishing a shift with a broken f’n leg. This series also featured the Bruins successfully sweeping Jarome Iginla out of the playoffs two months after Iginla nixed a trade to Boston to go to Pittsburgh because he felt he had a better chance to win with them. Poetic justice across the board, really. Tuukka Rask was straight-up incredible in this series, too, with stops on 134-of-136 shots thrown his way (a .985 save percentage).
What a series, what a story.
1. 2011 Stanley Cup Final vs. Canucks
This one is obvious, yeah? We could spend about 2,011 words on this series alone, but allow me to highlight my favorite play of the entire series: With the Bruins in a virtual must-win Game 3 after going down two games to none, Brad Marchand scored a shorthanded goal that saw him strip a Hart finalist, beat a Selke finalist, and then score on a Vezina finalist for the goal that changed the entire complexion of a series that ended with Boston’s first Cup in almost 40 years.