The Bruins had a very exciting, very frustrating, and in the end, very disappointing conclusion to their 2011-2012 season.
They suffered a Stanley Cup hangover of epic proportions to start the season—although I would attribute most of it to overconfidence—and then played like of one of the best teams in NHL history in November. They were putting up six goals almost on a nightly basis.
Winter, on the other hand, was not kind to the Bruins. They struggled to play .500 hockey and consistently dropped games against inferior opponents. They did pick things up in the end, but were ousted by the Capitals in seven games on a goal that probably should have been disallowed.
The Bruins will now have a full summer to train and prepare for the 2012-2013 season. Here are the five best moments from the past Bruins season.
Milan Lucic brought the Bruins' faithful to their feet when he rocked goalie Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres in a brutal collision.
Miller ventured out of his crease to stop a breakaway attempt by Lucic (who had lost control of the puck on the breakaway). Miller knocked the puck away, but a now enraged Lucic did not stop skating.
This was not only an exciting moment for Bruins fans, but it appears that Lucic might have completely destroyed Buffalo's playoff hopes. The Bruins would go on to recapture the Northeast Division with relative ease as Buffalo failed to make the playoffs.
Looking back, the Phil Kessel trade seemed like an odd deal for the Bruins at the time. It was as if Chiarelli had decided to build for the future when the Cup was already in demand in Boston.
It ended up the smartest move Peter Chiarelli has made as GM of the Bruins. With Kessel refusing to budge on his contract negotiations, Chiarelli traded him to Toronto for what turned out to be Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
The Bruins would finish the season 6-0 against Toronto thanks to Seguin's apparent mastery of his childhood team.
Benoit Pouliot came to Boston on a one-year deal last offseason.
He has proved to be an invaluable addition.
Pouliot was drafted fourth overall by the Minnesota Wild in 2006. Despite his high selection, he never lived up to his billing and fell into disfavor. He was promptly traded to Montreal, and is perhaps most remembered as a Hab for his cheap shot on Johnny Boychuk and his fight with David Krejci.
Pouliot has more than made up for those transgressions with his commitment to playing Bruins hockey.
The raw skill that got him drafted fourth overall is obvious in this goal, and although he was never able to translate his skill into consistent production, he has developed into a gritty third-liner that most teams wouldn't mind having. Although his deal is set to expire in July, he will most likely be back next season on the third line.
The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals were one of the best in years. The Bruins came back from a 2-0 deficit to oust the heavily favored Canucks in seven games, capturing their first Cup in 39 years.
While the Bruins went on to lose the rematch (on a few bad officiating decisions), it was easily one of the most exciting games of the 2011-2012 season from beginning to end. Why the NHL only had them play once is a mystery.
Patrice Bergeron is the most underrated forward in the NHL by far.
He is an amazing playmaker and is blessed with great defensive awareness. He also improved his shootout play and was the Bruins' "closer" in the shootout this year.
Bergeron's work ethic is only matched by players like Jonathan Toews and David Backes. He should have been nominated for Selke years ago, but his relatively low profile outside of Boston helped to prevent that.
Expect Bergeron to win the Selke easily this year.