After a weekend to let the biggest playoff collapse in Bruins history sink in, we’re ready to take a look at the Bruins’ season in review, a year that started with high hopes of a potential dominant Stanley Cup contender. However, that optimism waned after a lengthy losing streak, but returned with a surprising playoff run that ended unceremoniously at the hands of the Flyers in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on Friday.
The portents for the year really start last summer: Phil Kessel, the young but disgruntled sniper who scored 36 goals for the 2008-09 Bruins, didn’t want back in the Bruins dressing room. Whether that was because he did not get along with Claude Julien or some of the players on the roster has never really been figured out. Kessel was shipped to the Maple Leafs on Sept. 18, 2009 for Toronto’s 2010 first- and second-round picks as well as its 2011 first-round pick.
Boston fans were up in arms over the whole Kessel debacle, but the fact of the matter was the Bruins would have had trouble with the talented winger whether GM Peter Chiarelli could have got him on the 2009-10 roster or not. The loss of Kessel was one of the reasons the Bruins ended up last in the league in scoring, but there were other factors to take into account for a season where the Bruins scored 274 less goals than the year before and fell from a 116-point team on the top of the conference to a 91-point team fighting just to make the playoffs.
So, let’s take a look at the timeline of important events from the Bruins 2009-10 season:
Oct. 1, 2009: Capitals 4, Bruins 1
For a season that was supposed to start with a bang, the Bruins came out with a clunker against the team that everybody thought they would be battling for Eastern Conference supremacy. Alexander Ovechkin had two goals against Tim Thomas and Boston set the tone for the year. Opening night at TD Garden was known as much for what the Bruins could not do — beat Washington — as it was for Ovechkin hitting Junior Seau with a shaving cream pie as the former Patriots linebacker was an equipment mover for the Caps for his Versus television show “Sports Jobs with Junior.”
Oct. 3, 2009: Bruins 7, Hurricanes 2
In an early rematch against the team that knocked them out of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Bruins came out with fire and buried the old Whalers. It was a temporary climax for Boston as the teams would alternate wins and losses for the rest of the month.
Nov. 5, 2009: Canadiens 2, Bruins 1 (shootout)
The first home game against the Canadiens is always a fun event, as the Habs were looking for a little payback after the Bruins swept them in the quarterfinals in April. Mike Cammalleri may have shown a glimpse of his playoffs dramatics to come with the shootout winner.
Nov. 25, 2009: Lucic high ankle sprain
Milan Lucic sustained a high ankle sprain and the forward was out until Jan. 9 and was not quite the same on his feet until the end of March.
Dec. 1, 2009: Marc Savard contract extension
The Bruins signed their top point scorer and key playmaker to a seven-year contract extension at the beginning of the holiday season, only to watch as the wily center went down with a knee injury later in January in a year plagued with injuries.
Dec. 5, 2009: Bruins 7, Maple Leafs 2
Kessel returned to TD Garden and was booed every time he was seen on the ice as the Bruins romped in the first of two straight home games against the Leafs in December. Boston would beat Toronto again at home on Dec. 10, 5-2.
Jan. 1, 2010: Bruins 2, Flyers 1 (OT)
The Winter Classic. Good times had by all as Fenway Park was turned into a Winter Wonderland and the eyes of the NHL were on the Bruins and Flyers for the first time in the season. Marco Sturm made it all worthwhile with the game-winner in overtime.
Jan. 3, 2010: Satan comes to Boston
Miroslav Satan signed a contract with the Bruins after sitting on the free-agent scrap heap for the first half of the season. The Slovakian forward scored 14 points (nine goals, five assists) through 38 regular-season games for Boston before adding some playoff fireworks with 10 points and multiple game-winners in April and May.
Jan. 9, 2010: Lucic returns, Savard goes down
Bittersweet. More bitter than sweet, really, as the Bruins were dumped in Chicago when the Blackhawks scored five straight goals after Boston had taken a 2-0 lead. Savard was lost in the first period and Lucic returned for the first time since his ankle sprain.
Jan. 16 to Feb. 6, 2010: Bruins lose 10 straight
It was bitter times for the Bruins after the Winter Classic as they had the longest losing streak since the 1920s and could not score a goal to save their lives.
Feb. 7, 2010: Bruins 3, Canadiens 0
The Sunday entering the final week before the Olympic break, the Bruins won four straight, starting with a shutout of the Habs in Montreal. The game was also notable for Blake Wheeler’s first NHL fight, a comical scuffle with Ryan O’Byrne.
Feb. 13 to March 2, 2010: Olympic break
A plethora of Bruins headed to Vancouver: Zdeno Chara and Satan (Slovakia), David Krejci (Czech Republic), Marco Sturm (Germany), Tim Thomas (United States) and Patrice Bergeron (Canada). Thomas and Bergeron would come home with silver and gold respectively, though neither were major factors on their teams. Bergeron played a defensive center behind the likes of Sidney Crosby and Thomas had 11 total minutes as Ryan Miller carried Team USA to within inches of gold in the overtime final against Canada.
March 3, 2010: Trade deadline, Seidenberg comes to Boston
With a little momentum coming out of the Olympic break, everybody looked for Boston to acquire a scorer at the trade deadline. Instead, Chiarelli baffled folks by acquiring Dennis Seidenberg from Florida for Byron Bitz and a second-round draft pick. Seidenberg scored two goals and had seven assists for the Bruins in 17 games before lacerating a tendon in his left forearm in early April in Toronto.
Derek Morris was also shipped out of town after being signed by the Bruins in the summer of 2009. Morris went back to Phoenix and helped the Coyotes make the playoffs.
March 7, 2010: Matt Cooke, meet Marc Savard
In the final five minutes of a game the Penguins ended up winning 2-1, Savard was in the high slot looking to puck the puck on net when Pittsburgh forward Matt Cooke, coming onto the ice for a change, blind-sided the Boston center, twisting Savard to the ice with a forearm/shoulder to the head. Savard would sustain a Grade 2 concussion and miss the rest of the regular season and the quarterfinals against the Sabres before returning for Game 1 against the Flyers in the semis.
March 18, 2010: Penguins 3, Bruins 0
The low point of the season. Before the game, Boston celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Stanley Cup champions team, and were expected to exact revenge on Pittsburgh and Cooke for the hit on Savard. Shawn Thornton jumped the boards and fought Cooke in his first shift of the game, but the Bruins laid an egg as the Hub called for their heads and it looked like they could miss the playoffs.
April 1 to April 5, 2010: Seidenberg/Stuart go down
The Bruins lost two of their top four defensemen in a span of days as Seidenberg sustained a laceration to his forearm and Mark Stuart was diagnosed with cellulitis in his left hand that he had broken in late January in a fight with the Kings Wayne Simmons. Stuart returned in the middle of the semifinals against the Flyers, but Seidenberg ended up being done for the year.
April 10, 2010: Bruins 3, Hurricanes 0
Boston made NHL history with three shorthanded goals in 64 seconds on a penalty by Matt Hunwick early in the second period. The win also solidified the sixth seed for the Bruins in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
April 23 and April 26, 2010: Miro the Hero
Satan scored the game-winning goals in Game 4 and Game 6 against the Sabres in the quarterfinals to send the Bruins to the next round. The Game 4 goal was one of the most memorable moments in recent Boston sports history as it came in double overtime and put the Bruins up 3-1 in the series over Miller and Buffalo. Satan would do it again in the clinching Game 6, this time in regulation.
May 5, 2010: Bruins 4, Flyers 1
If someone told you that Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals would be the final Bruins win of the season, you would have probably laughed them off a pier. As it turned out, Boston would never get another victory after Satan scored the game-winner in at the Wachovia Center to gives the Bruins a 3-0 series advantage. David Krejci was lost for the rest of the playoffs when he dislocated his wrist after being hit by Flyers center Mike Richards in the first period. Krejci’s loss was a portent of the nightmare week to come for Boston.
May 7, 2010: Flyers 5, Bruins 4 OT
The Bruins were inches away from the sweep of Philadelphia in Game 4 as Boston came back from two goals down to tie the game on a goal by Mark Recchi with 31.5 seconds left in regulation and send it to extra time. Simon Gagne returned to the Flyers after missing the first three games of the series and scored the winner in overtime.
May 14, 2010: Flyers 4, Bruins 3
Philadelphia completed the comeback and Gagne was the culprit yet again in Game 7 as the forward scored the game-winner on the power play after the Bruins had taken a too-many-men penalty late in the third period. Boston became just the third team in NHL history and the first in 35 years to lose a series after winning the first three games.