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    All-Centennial Team

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    Stanley Cup Champs

    Three years later: reminiscing on the 2011 Stanley Cup champions

    Around this time exactly three years ago, Zdeno Chara was hoisting the Stanley Cup inside of Rogers Arena in Vancouver, ending Boston's 39 year Cup drought.

    Zdeno Chara lifts the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career (Julie Jacobson/AP)

    Let's reminisce, shall we? The Bruins entered the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs in third place in the Eastern Conference, set to face none other than their most hated rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. After witnessing the colossal collapse against the Flyers the year before (sorry to bring it up), Bruins fans had high hopes for this team, expecting their failure from 2010 to work as a motivator. This idea was thrown out the window rather quickly, as the B's dropped the first two games of the series at home and had Bruins Nation saying "here we go again". Yet another playoff disappointment seemed inevitable, since no Bruins team in history had ever come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a series, and they weren't just heading to any arena, they were heading to the house of horrors known as the Bell Centre. The Bruins could have just accepted their fate and given up, but not this team. They went into Montreal with their heads held high and played their best hockey of the season, winning both games on the road. A couple of Nathan Horton overtime goals later, the Bruins had achieved the impossible and sent the Canadiens packing in Game 7.

    The Bruins' next victim was the Philadelphia Flyers, and boy did they play the role of victim well. The Bruins rolled right over the Flyers, completing a four game sweep and putting the 2010 collapse behind them forever. The Flyers did not live up to their title "The Broad Street Bullies", as the Bruins pummeled them physically and on the scoreboard, with three of the four wins coming by four goals. By this point, Boston was buzzing about this team and had "Stanley Cup Fever" for the first time in a long time.

    The next series would not be nearly as easy, with the high-powered Tampa Bay Lightning coming to town for the Eastern Conference Championship. After dropping Game 1 in a decisive manner, the Bruins needed to answer right back to avoid ending up in the same situation they were in against the Habs. In the second period of Game 2, the Tyler Seguin show began. The budding superstar exploded offensively, scoring two goals and two assists in a single period, propelling the Bruins to a wild win. Back in the series, the Bruins worked their way to a 3-2 series lead, only to drop Game 6 in Tampa and head back to Boston for another Game 7. However, this Game 7 was much different than the first. Fans were treated to one of the most epic goaltending duels in Game 7 history, with Tim Thomas facing off against 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson. After many quality scoring chances on both sides, it all came down to one play. With 7:33 remaining in the game, David Krejci and "Mr. Clutch" Nathan Horton converted on a perfectly executed play to give Boston the 1-0 lead and nearly blow the roof off of the TD Garden. With that win, the Bruins booked a date with the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final.

    On June 1, 2011, one of the wildest Stanley Cup Finals in history began. The first two games resulted in heartbreak for the Bruins, the first coming on a goal with nineteen seconds remaining, and the next coming on a goal just eleven seconds into overtime. Despite the losses, some bad blood was brewing between the two teams. Alex Burrows biting Patrice Bergeron's finger in Game 1 set the tone for the series. When the series moved to Boston, the Big Bad Bruins had arrived. After a cheap shot knocked Nathan Horton out in Game 3, the bear had officially been poked. The Bruins were extremely physical against the Canucks in Boston, and turned the series around in a hurry. Two dominating wins in Boston made the impression around the NHL that they may not lose another game in the series, but it wouldn't be that simple. The series went seven games once again and the Bruins needed a repeat of their first round performance: winning a Game 7 on the road in a tough building after trailing the series 0-2. Despite not being able to play in the game, Horton made his presence felt in Vancouver. He poured a bottle of Garden ice onto the ice in Rogers Arena, headed back to the locker room, and let his teammates know, "This is our ice now". When the buzzer sounded to end the game a few hours later, after all of the biting, taunting, Sedin punching, and tire pumping, the Boston Bruins were Stanley Cup champions. Dave Goucher's call of "Get the duck boats ready!" will live on in the ears of Bruins fans forever.

    The 2011 Boston Bruins were a symbol of exactly what it means to wear the spoked B. They were big and bad, never gave up, even with their backs against the wall and history against them, and made the city of Boston proud. You could feel something special with this team throughout the entire playoff run. They had a deep roster full of leaders, an MVP goalie, and the chemistry to keep them going. It's hard to believe it's been three years, but with that being said, I would like to say thank you to each and every member of the 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins (yes, even you, Kaberle). The memories will stay in our hearts, the banner will hang from the rafters of the Garden, and these names will remain on the Cup forever.

    The names of the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins engraved on the Cup (Bro Juneau)

    Talk hockey with us! Follow Mark Garbino on twitter @garbino42 and the BruinsLife team @BruinsLife