7 Memorable Moments That Defined The Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup Run

BOSTON (CBS) — June 15 marks the anniversary of the Boston Bruins’ improbable run to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, ending a 39-year drought between titles.

The Bruins did not have the most skilled offensive players or the best power play in the 2011 playoffs, but they played impeccable team defense, got a legendary goaltending run from Tim Thomas, and had the physical and mental toughness required to become Stanley Cup champions. Defying conventions and overcoming glaring shortcomings, the Bruins proved that season that having the most talent isn’t as important as having the biggest heart.

Despite the Bruins’ triumph over the favored Vancouver Canucks in seven games to win the Stanley Cup, there were times when the team’s chances to win hanged on by mere threads. And despite the bleak lows, the massive highs embodied the visceral thrills that the Stanley Cup Playoffs provide on a nightly basis.

Here are the seven moments that defined the Bruins’ incredible Stanley Cup championship run.

Beating Montreal in overtime of Game 7

Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 27, 2011.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins celebrates with teammates after scoring the winning goal in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 27, 2011. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bruins became the first Stanley Cup champion in history to win three separate Game 7’s, and they did so in thrilling fashion. The first round started off poorly against the rival Montreal Canadiens as the Bruins went down 2-0, but the team battled back to tie the game with two improbable wins in hostile territory at Montreal’s Bell Centre. This was the first small sign that the 2011 Bruins may well have championship DNA.

The series eventually got to overtime of Game 7, where one bounce of the puck would decide who moved on and went home. Fortunately for the Bruins, Nathan Horton emerged as a clutch playoff performer with the game-winner.

Sweeping Flyers, overcoming demons

A view of the celebration following the Boston Bruins' victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 6, 2011. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 5-1 to sweep the series four games to none. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

A view of the celebration following the Boston Bruins’ victory over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 6, 2011. The Bruins defeated the Flyers 5-1 to sweep the series four games to none. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins looked as far away from contending for the Cup as any team in the league after their devastating collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers in the previous season, going up 3-0 only to drop the final four games of the series. The Bruins even led 3-0 in Game 7, only to cough up the lead – and their season.

They made sure nothing of the sort happened when the teams met again in 2011. Of course, after another 3-0 lead, the questions rose back up of whether the Bruins would close the deal this time. They did, emphatically, crushing the Flyers 5-1 to move on to the next round and their next triumph…

Game 7 win over Tampa Bay Lightning

The Prince of Wales trophy is presented to the Boston Bruins by Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly after they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 27, 2011. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Prince of Wales trophy is presented to the Boston Bruins by Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly after they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 27, 2011. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Bruins’ next Game 7 win wasn’t just one of the great Game 7’s in Stanley Cup history. It’s one of the best games of all-time, period.

Horton came through again in this one, netting a goal in the third period of a scoreless, penalty-free contest that featured all of the best qualities of a Stanley Cup playoff game: the speed, the tension, the can’t-take-your-eyes-off-the-screen excitement.

Nathan Horton’s injury rallies team

Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins gets lifted off the ice after being checked by Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Three of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 6, 2011. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Nathan Horton of the Boston Bruins gets lifted off the ice after being checked by Aaron Rome of the Vancouver Canucks during Game Three of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 6, 2011. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

The Bruins faced yet another write-off from media and fans after going down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup Finals against the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks, but they turned things around rather quickly in Game 3. Unfortunately, a bad injury to one of their best players was something of a catalyst for that.

Nathan Horton got knocked out of the rest of the series after taking a vicious hit from Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome, who received a five-minute interference major and game misconduct, followed by a four-game suspension that would turn out to be the rest of the series. The Bruins responded in a big way in that game, firing eight pucks past Roberto Luongo and shellacking the Canucks goalie for four more goals in Game 4, which ran him off the ice.

Horton also helped inspire the team when he poured some melted water from the TD Garden ice onto the rink surface at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, which after the win would become one of the year’s iconic moments.

Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo’s war of waords

Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks congratulates Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins after Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks congratulates Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins after Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

It was after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals, which the Canucks won 2-0 and put the Bruins’ backs against the wall yet again, that Luongo sparked one of the more memorable feuds in Bruins history. First, he ripped Thomas’ playing style for venturing too far out of the crease. Then, he complained about Thomas’ lack of compliments for him with the infamous line, “I’ve been pumping his tires since the series started. I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me.” Thomas followed that up with the unforgettable gem, “I didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires. I guess I’ll have to apologize for that.”

Thomas would have the last laugh, allowing just two goals in the final two games of the series to Luongo’s six and capping arguably the greatest single season for a goaltender in NHL history.

Brad Marchand scraps with Daniel Sedin

Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks fights with Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins during Game Six of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 13, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks fights with Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins during Game Six of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 13, 2011. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

To call this a “scrap” would be generous to Daniel Sedin, who got pummeled in the face by Brad Marchand after a whistle in Game 6 of the Cup Finals … and just took it. Instead of giving Marchand so much as a shove back, Sedin instead stood there like a bobblehead and waited for the referee to come over and call a penalty.

Marchand may have looked like a bully in this instance, but Sedin’s lack of a response in that moment, with his team down three goals and staring a Game 7 in the face, encapsulated the identities of the two teams. The Bruins had the grit and nastiness to overcome the more talented team, and the Canucks could not match their level of toughness.

Bruins’ stars shine in Game 7 of Cup Finals

Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins kisses the Stanley Cup after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins kisses the Stanley Cup after defeating the Vancouver Canucks in Game Seven of the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena on June 15, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

After winning two pressure-packed Game 7’s en route to the Stanley Cup Finals, the Bruins took a different approach in Game 7 against the Canucks: total domination. The three pillars of their success shined brightly in this contest.

Two-way stud Patrice Bergeron scored twice and helped limit the Sedin twins to five shots on goal. Zdeno Chara logged 27 minutes of shutdown defense. And, most importantly, Thomas was once again a rock in the back of the net, stopping all 37 shots that went his way.

The 2010-11 Bruins had already proven they had the mental fortitude to perform at their best when the games mattered the most, and their dominant Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals was the ultimate example of the team’s championship toughness.

What are your favorite moments of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run? Share your memories in the comments.

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