May in New England means warm weather and the Boston Bruins in the NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Bruins are in the chase for the Stanley Cup for the 75th time, opening their first-round series this week against the Carolina Hurricanes.
Only the Montreal Canadiens have been in the NHL playoffs more times (85) than the Bruins. Honestly, back when the NHL was six or even seven teams, it wasn’t very hard to make the playoffs. The Bruins are a cornerstone NHL franchise, in their 97th year.
For Massachusetts sports betting enthusiasts, the bad news is that you can’t bet on the Bruins to win the Stanley Cup while in the Bay State. The good news, however, is a sports betting bill recently passed the Senate, which is a step forward from where we were.
The Bruins’ previous 74 playoff appearances include six Stanley Cups and enough magical moments to fill the spring calendar. Here’s a look at some of the top Bruins playoff moments in history:
1929: You always remember your first time
Coached by Hall of Famer Art Ross, the Bruins beat the New York Rangers to claim their first Stanley Cup in 1929. This is the Bruins team of Dit Clapper and Eddie Shore.
And Bill Carson. Bill Carson?
Boston won Game 1 in what was then called Boston Madison Square Garden (later just Boston Garden), 2-0, behind a shutout from Cecil “Tiny” Thompson. The series was best-of-three.
Game 2 was the next night in New York City. Carson, a right-winger who had fractured his skull after a hard check in 1928, scored the game-winner with 1:58 remaining in the third period.
Carson would score only three playoff goals in his NHL career and became a dentist after his career was over.
1939: The real Mr. Sudden Death
World War II would start in September of that year. Before the season, the Bruins had cast off Thompson (much to the fans’ dismay) but were about to bring in “Mr. Zero” Frank Brimsek. He would be the first goalie to win the Vezina and Calder trophies in the same year.
The Bruins’ semifinal series with the Rangers is one of the best in hockey history.
Boston jumped out to a 3-0 series lead, only for the Rangers to win the next three, setting up a winner-take-all Game 7 at Boston Garden — the first Game 7 in NHL history.
Adding to the drama, the game went to triple overtime. Mel Hill scored midway through the third overtime, sending the Bruins to the finals, where they beat the Maple Leafs.
Hill would score three sudden-death goals in the playoffs and earn the nickname “Mr. Sudden Death” for the rest of his career. Boston would take out the Maple Leafs, 4-1, to win the Stanley Cup.
1970: The one and only
Boston hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1941, but it had the incomparable Bobby Orr on the backline in 1970. Orr was at the height of his powers that season. He won four trophies.
The Bruins took on St. Louis in the Stanley Cup Final. It was a mismatch. The NHL had expanded and created two divisions, and the East was much stronger. Still, the city of Boston was on edge.
Orr scored 40 seconds into overtime of Game 4 to hand the Bruins the Stanley Cup. The picture is iconic of the aftermath; Orr flying through the air, stick aloft, face radiant, in contrast to he disgust of the Blues’ defenseman, the sprawled-out figure of the Blues goalie, and the joy of the fans in the background.
Hockey in New England would never be the same.
1972: That Orr guy could play
One of the best Boston trivia questions is how many Stanley Cup-winning goals did Orr have? The answer is two.
All of New England remembers the goal in 1970, but Orr technically had the series-winner in 1972 when he scored first in the Bruins’ 3-0 win over the New York Rangers in 1972 in Game 6.
This series is better remembered for a wild Game 1, when Boston lost a 5-1 lead to the Rangers only to win on a Garnet Bailey goal with 2 minutes remaining.
1990: Take that, Montreal
The Bruins have played in 20 Stanley Cup Finals but hold the unfortunate record of most losses with 14. Many of them came at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Bruins had Ray Borque and Cam Neely in 1990 and were the top seed in the Wales Conference with 101 points. After holding off the pesky Hartford Whalers in the first round, the Bruins flicked aside the Canadiens, 4-1. They won four straight contests after losing Game 1.
It was the first time Boston beat Montreal in a playoff series since 1943. Montreal had won 18 straight series between the two franchises.
The Bruins reached the Stanley Cup Final that year only to fall to Mark Messier and the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1.
2013: The comeback
It was an emotional year in Boston, which experienced the Boston Marathon bombing.
The Bruins had had an uneven season, moving on from star goalie Tim Thomas. They met Toronto in the conference semifinals, and the series went to Game 7.
Another bad omen, after Game 6, the Bruins’ plane had engine problems, and the team didn’t get back to Boston until a few hours before Game 7. Toronto then jumped on the Bruins, leading 4-1 midway through the third period.
What happened next was fantasy. With the Bruins pulling goalie Tuukka Rask for an extra skater, Patrice Bergeron set up Milan Lucic with 1:22 remaining in regulation to make it 4-3. Thirty-one seconds later, and the net still empty, Bergeron scored from the point to make it 4-4.
Bergeron would score again 6:05 into overtime to complete the comeback and Toronto’s collapse. The Bruins are the only team to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period.