When you think of the Boston Bruins winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, a few things probably come to mind.
Flashbacks of Zdeno Chara lifting the Cup above his head, nearly falling to the ground as he knocks his hat off, Tim Thomas making incredible save after incredible save to keep the Bruins in it, Nathan Horton pouring TD Garden water onto the ice at Rogers Arena and all the equipment flying into the air when the final horn sounded in Game 7 against the Vancouver Canucks.
But for all the stars the Bruins possessed on their team — Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic, Horton, Mark Recchi, to name a few — Boston would not have gotten to where it did without Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.
Before the Bruins even got to the Cup Final, they had to defeat some tough opponents to make their dream a reality.
The Bruins met their longtime Montreal Canadiens rival in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal and it was a coming out party of sorts for Ryder, who was part of a memorable run with Kelly and Peverley as his linemates. Ryder helped tie the series 2-2 in Game 4 with a two-goal night, including the game-winner in overtime after a nice feed from Kelly allowed Ryder to slip the puck past Carey Price.
Of course, no one can forget Ryder’s glove save on Tomas Plekanec that robbed the then-Canadiens forward from giving Montreal a 1-0 lead in the first period of Game 5. It helped Boston to an eventual 2-1 double-overtime victory to take a 3-2 series lead.
Ryder potted three goals and as many assists in the seven-game series against the Canucks en route to the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years. But it does make you wonder how things would have turned out had he not made that save, or scored that game-winning goal.
Peverley also had himself a nice playoff run with the B’s in 2011.
His two goals in Game 4 against Vancouver helped Boston even the series at 2-2, but he had different linemates this time around due to Horton suffering a concussion after a blindside hit from Aaron Rome in Game 3. Peverley moved up to the top line with David Krejci and Lucic for Game 4 and ended up potting two goals in the 4-0 win to even the series at two games apiece.
The Bruins desperately needed someone to step up in Horton’s absence and that’s exactly what Peverley did without hesitation. He scored two game-winning goals throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs — one in Game 7 against the Canadiens and the second in Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Final. All told, Peverley finished the series against the Canadiens with five points and had four points in the Stanley Cup Final against the Canucks.
And then there’s Kelly.
The forward was fantastic on the penalty kill and won puck battles. And if he ever lost a race to the puck, Kelly always did what it took to help force a turnover.
In Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final, Kelly, Ryder and Peverley accounted for four of Boston’s eight goals in the 8-1 win. After all was said and done, Kelly had 13 points, Ryder had 15 and Peverley had 11.
Yes, the Bruins don’t win the Stanley Cup without Thomas, Chara, Bergeron and Krejci, but what made the 2011 team so special were players like Ryder, Peverley and Kelly contributing in big ways throughout the series so games didn’t solely rely on the big names.