Kalman: After 2011ing Blues, Bruins three wins from matching 2011 glory

Matt Kalman
May 28, 2019 - 3:06 am

Zdeno Chara was exhausted after playing 19:38 hard minutes, mostly against St. Louis Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko and his linemates, in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday.

After the Bruins captain fulfilled his required media duties, he headed off to grab a snack. As he munched, he made his way toward the players’ lounge, stopping just to answer a quick question about what it meant to see eight members of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team return to be pregame banner captains.

Chara’s face went from famished and exhausted to jubilant. He suddenly shone a huge smile and said “It’s great, it means a lot.”

It also meant a lot that the Bruins had just put forth an effort that 2011 team would’ve been proud of, and played a game that featured many of the characteristics of the historic team in a 4-2 victory.

Game 2 is back here Wednesday.

When you think of 2011, you think of great comebacks and will-breaking physicality against the opposition. Well, the Bruins spotted the Blues a 2-0 lead 21 minutes into the game. What followed could’ve easily been a romp by the visitors, but instead what ensued was a second period reminiscent of many periods the 2011 Bruins played on home ice against Vancouver – except St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington was able to keep more pucks out of the net than  Roberto Luongo– as the Bruins outshot the Blues 18-3 and held St. Louis without a shot on net for a little more than half the period.

The Bruins didn’t cash is as much as they would’ve liked, but they tied the score on goals by Connor Clifton and Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy’s goal came after a boneheaded penalty by Oskar Sundqvist, who was whistled for crosschecking in the neutral zone. The penalty was a product of the Bruins’ physicality getting under the Blues skin. He argued the call all the way to the box. And when other St. Louis players weren’t turning to the officials for help that didn’t come, they were often getting caught crossing the discipline line, putting the Bruins on the power play five times.

If anything said “welcome back to 2011” more than any other play, it was Torey Krug’s helmet-less crunch of St. Louis forward Robert Thomas out near the Blues’ blue line.

“I think it gave our team energy and that’s all you’re trying to do out there,” Krug said about the hit, sounding a lot like Shawn Thornton or Andrew Ference circa 2011.

By the end of the night it was apparent the Blues had just been 2011ed.

It seems the 2011 team is finally far back enough in the rearview to be fully embraced as icons. I mean six members of that team are still active Bruins, so they have to balance passing on the experience and wisdom acquired from that experience with avoiding being Al Bundy always talking about his high school football accomplishments.

But it’s harder to avoid those memories and experiences now. The Cup Final means it’s time for the Bruins training staff to put up extra decorations on the dressing room walls. Alongside photos of Bobby Orr drinking from the Cup and celebrating a championship are pictures of David Krejci and Chara kissing the Cup, and Tuukka Rask and Steven Kampfer getting doused with beer while the Cup is being passed around.

“You look at these photos and it gets you fired up,” forward Danton Heinen said.

The photos were hung early and then later many of the men who made those pictures possible, the ones whose playing careers have come to a close (except for Dennis Seidenberg) waved the flag before the puck dropped. Thornton, Ference, Rich Peverley, Gregory Campbell, Michael Ryder, Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Seidenberg, a who’s who of championship Bruins, each wearing his old sweater with the number that will always be associated with him in Bruins lore.

It’s difficult to compare teams from different eras, even teams that are just eight years apart. The sport has changed and so has the way the Bruins play. Tenacity, determination and most of all gumption, thought, translate to the ice through championship-caliber teams regardless of when a team plays.

This 2019 Bruins seems like it can match the 2011 team in those areas, and now it just needs three more wins against the Blues to be in pictures that future Bruins teams will look at to get fired up.

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