10 Must-See Games on the Boston Bruins 2012-13 Schedule
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The Stanley Cup season of 2010-11 has faded into the past. The Bruins had moments where they played spectacular hockey in 2011-12, but they could not sustain it.
The season ended with the disappointment of a first-round loss to the Washington Capitals. Shortly after that, Tim Thomas inexplicably revealed via Facebook (h/t ProHockeyTalk) that he wasn't going to be playing in the upcoming season.
The Bruins are forced to move on and go forward. Tuukka Rask has been anointed as the No. 1 goalie, and the Bruins will have to demonstrate that they are still a formidable team and a Stanley Cup contender.
It will all have to be proven in the playoffs, but there are various touchstone moments in the regular season that will be must-see games.
Here are 10 games that the Bruins should place extra emphasis on. In other words, circle these on their schedule.
Bruins at Capitals, Nov. 2
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby was solid in the postseason.
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They emerged in overtime of the seventh game when Joel Ward batted a rebound past Tim Thomas, and the season was over. The Bruins get a chance to re-establish their dominance and punish the Caps for their temerity.
Beating Washington in the team's first meeting of the season would help heal a painful wound.
Wild at Bruins, Nov. 6
The Bruins have been slapped around by the Minnesota Wild.
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Minnesota is 10-1-1 vs. the Bruins, and they're undefeated in Boston. This makes no sense, but the Wild have dominated the Bruins, and it's time for Boston to take this opponent seriously.
Rangers at Bruins, Nov. 23
The Rangers and Bruins both use their physical style to get an edge.
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The Rangers were the top team in the Eastern Conference during the regular season. They took 3-of-4 games against the Bruins, and Boston has often struggled against Henrik Lundqvist.
When the Bruins host the Rangers on Black Friday—the day after Thanksgiving—Boston has its first opportunity to turn last year's series around.
Bruins at Canucks, Dec. 29
The Bruins return to Vancouver for the first time since winning the Stanley Cup in 2011.
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The 2011 Stanley Cup Finals between these two teams was a memorable one. In addition to the tension of a championship series that went down to the final game, these two teams developed a genuine hatred of each other.
It was marked by Aaron Rome's concussion-inducing hit on Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand's repeated jabs to the face of Daniel Sedin.
Vancouver won the only meeting in 2011-12 between these two teams, and the Bruins want to remind them who's boss.
Bruins at Canadiens, Jan. 19
Winning in Montreal is always significant for the Bruins.
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The Bruins and Canadiens, once again, play six games against each other in this Northeast Division—the NHL's most historic rivalry.
Going to Montreal and winning on the road is always special against the Canadiens. While Montreal finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last year, they will most likely improve this year with a new general manager in Marc Bergevin and a new head coach in Michel Therrien.
It always takes a maximum effort to win in la belle province.
Bruins at Sharks, Jan. 31
The Bruins kick off a three-game Western Conference road trip against San Jose.
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San Jose has been an upper-echelon Western Conference team for years. However, they have never made it out of the Western Conference playoffs, and the window of opportunity is closing on ex-Bruin star Joe Thornton and his teammates.
It's always nice to take a piece out of Thornton and the Sharks by beating them on their home ice and helping them realize that since the 2005 trade, the Bruins have won one Stanley Cup, and the Sharks have won none.
Maple Leafs at Bruins, Feb. 12
Former Bruin Phil Kessel has had a nightmarish time against his old team.
The Bruins simply punished the Maple Leafs last season, winning all six games between the two teams, and most were by huge margins.
Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel has developed into an explosive scorer, but he often looks like a lost little boy against Boston.
Zdeno Chara and Tuukka Rask will be charged with shutting him down once again. Here's another opportunity to spank Kessel and the Leafs.
Bruins at Blackhawks, Feb. 17
An Original 6 matchup between the Bruins and Blackhawks is worth getting excited about.
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Old-timers who long for the good old days of the six-team NHL often point to the great matchups of teams like the Bruins and Blackhawks.
In the current NHL setup, these teams usually meet once a year. In 2012-13, they play twice, and this mid-February meeting at the United Center will match two of the best all-around players in the league in Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews.
Fans can only dream of a Stanley Cup Finals meeting between these two teams, but this game should be a reminder of how intense a regular-season game between ancient rivals can get.
Flyers at Bruins, March 30
Similar physical styles make all Flyers-Bruins meetings worth the price of admission.
The memory of the Bruins' 2010 playoff disaster against Philadelphia fueled the Stanley Cup run the next season. That defeat was humiliating and it lingered in the minds of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic for a full year.
The Bruins will never forget that defeat, and they love to pay the Flyers back every chance they get.
Bruins at Penguins, April 5
Sidney Crosby and the Penguins represent a major test for any team with Stanley Cup aspirations.
As the regular season nears its finish, the Bruins meet up with the Penguins in a game that may or may not have ramifications for home-ice advantage in the postseason. As long as Sidney Crosby remains healthy, the Penguins may be the favorites to get to the Stanley Cup Finals in the Eastern Conference.
If the Bruins want to do something about it, they need to outskate, outhit and outwork the Penguins in this game.