By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
Hockey is an intense sport. The high-paced game with ultra-talented players all over the ice creates an action-packed event that draws fans year after year. One of the most back-and-forth sports, it’s more uncommon to see a full-blown blowout in the NHL compared to other major sports. When the going gets tough and the team is in desperate need of that game-tying or game-winning goal, there is that one player everyone looks to save the day. Captain Clutch.
Over the course of their 96-year history that began way back in the 1924-25 season, the Boston Bruins have been no stranger to franchise-altering talent. Eddie Shore, Milt Schmidt, Johnny Bucyk, Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Raymond Bourque, Cam Neely, Patrice Bergeron just to name a few. Within those, certain players over time have been that specific player the rest of the team looks to when that one play is needed. But, who are the most clutch players in Boston Bruins history?
Patrice Bergeron will go down in history as one of the best two-way forwards in the league’s history. His four Frank J. Selke Trophies helped confirm the motive that he’s one of the supreme defensive forwards but throughout his illustrious 16-year career, he has proven time and time again his knack for scoring those big-time goals.
The now 33-year-old Bergeron has the third-most game-winning goals in Bruins history with 67 and has the most playoff overtime winners with four. Those four overtime winners place him tied for fourth-most OT winners in the postseason in NHL history, four goals behind Avalanche legend Joe Sakic. Overall, Bergeron has nine game-winners in the playoffs – second amongst Bruins all-time.
The Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, Canada native scored two game-ending goals in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In the first one, arguably one of the most iconic comebacks wins in recent memory, Bergeron scored the winner in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Later on, Patrice redirected a shot on goal in double-overtime against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals to give Boston a 3-0 series lead.
Over the past decade or so, when you discuss Patrice Bergeron, there’s a good chance Brad Marchand had something to do with it. Marchand and Bergeron have become one of the best duos in the National Hockey League and it has truly catapulted Marchand as one of the best wingers in the league.
Even though the majority of NHL fans associate his numerous fines and suspensions to the name “Brad Marchand”, the 32-year-old forward has more recently proved his on-ice skill. In his last five seasons, Marchand has eclipsed the 30-goal mark in every year except the 2019-20 season which was shortened due to the global pandemic. In March 2018, Marchand became the all-time leader in Boston Bruins history for overtime goals with 11, going on to score another that season, ending the 2017-18 campaign with five OT winners. Marchand went on to tally another three overtime winners in the 2018-19 season as well.
Since being drafted by the Bruins in the third round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Brad has scored a combined 56 GWG, an additional five in the playoffs including an overtime winner in the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Rangers, and scored two of the four goals in the deciding Game Seven to secure Boston’s sixth Stanley Cup.
Johnny Bucyk is the embodiment of the Boston Bruins organization. He has been apart of the team for 63 seasons, 21 of those as a player. The now 85-year-old legend is second in Bruins history for most games played, first in goals, second in assists, and second in points. He also scored a total of 88 game-winning goals as a member of the Bruins which places him atop the franchise records for that stat.
However, his one big clutch moment is perhaps foreshadowed by the most iconic clutch goal in Bruins history. In Game Four of the 1970 Stanley Cup Finals against the St. Louis Blues, the Bruins trailed the game 3-2 late in the third period and were only minutes away from allowing the Blues to force a fifth game. Then, with 6:32 remaining in regulation, Buyck buried his 11th goal of the postseason to equal the game at three, setting the stage for Bobby Orr’s infamous goal early into the overtime session.
Without Bucyk’s game-tying goal, the Blues very well likely win that game, and as Bucyk himself said, “If we had lost that, we would have gone back to St. Louis and who knows what would have happened. It’s not over until it’s over.”. His longevity and two Stanley Cups help make him one of the most clutch Boston Bruins of all-time.
Nathan Horton scored two overtime goals in Boston’s first-round series against the Montreal Canadiens in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the Game Seven series-clinching tally. Horton also buried the lone goal in the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals that same season, ultimately sending the Bruins back to the Finals.
Terry O’Reilly has the second-most playoff overtime goals with three goals, behind only Patrice Bergeron and tied with Mel Hill. O’Reilly, typically known for his tough-nosed attitude and fighting style, scored an OT winner in the ’77, ’78, and ’80 playoffs. Over his 891-game career, Terry scored 32 GWG.
Sean Kuraly likely won’t go down as one of the best players to wear the Spoked-B, but he already has a plethora of clutch goals. In his debut season, Kuraly scored the game-tying and later, the game-winner in double-overtime to keep Boston’s season alive against the Ottawa Senators in Round One. He has also scored the game-winner in the 2019 Winter Classic as regulation neared the end, scored the 3-1 insurance goal in the 2019 ECQF Game 7 against Toronto, and has one OT winner in regular-season hockey.
Even including these players, there are still way more that had a clutch career while a member of the Boston Bruins. Who do you think should be on this list? Let me know via Twitter @tkdmaxbjj.