Over the course of the next week, BostonBruins.com will be taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the 2013-14 season. Make sure to follow along on the Bruins Blog.
BostonBruins.com - The Stanley Cup is the only goal for the Bruins. It's the be-all and end-all of what drives them every season.
So, after a season in which that failed to happen, the entire group is rightfully unfulfilled.
But if we look back at two weeks in February during the 2013-14 season, which didn't actually involve working towards that goal, something pretty special happened for a handful of Bruins players and staff who were called upon to represent their home countries at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
That brings us to another memorable moment from the season: the Olympic Trifecta.
Patrice Bergeron is only 28 years old, and after winning gold with Team Canada in Sochi, he now has two Olympic gold medals and a Stanley Cup in his repertoire (along with plenty of other accomplishments, of course). In 2014, he played an even greater role than he did in Vancouver in 2010 and was arguably one of Canada's best players in the tournament.
Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien was behind the bench for Team Canada and General Manager Peter Chiarelli served on the management group. Both played key roles in helping shape the golden roster. The crew they helped put together went undefeated in Sochi, proving dominant with their execution and their two final shutout performances en route to gold. They never trailed in a game during the tournament and only gave up three goals in total.
"That was a great experience from Day 1 through the last day. It was something very special, something I'll never forget, and I'm very happy and proud of the way we've all done it," Bergeron said upon returning to Boston and switching gears back to the Black & Gold.
"He's such a complete player, and it's nice to see that now he's seen that same way on a bigger stage," Julien said of Bergeron. "And now there's no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is."
After getting the first Olympic nod of his career, netminder Tuukka Rask backstopped Finland to the bronze - and could have been playing for gold had he not been struck by the flu while in Sochi. With his lights-out performance in Finland's rout of host Russia, his game was showcased on a much grander stage, as he was often cited as one of the top goalies in the world.
"It was a lot of fun," Rask said of his experience in Sochi. "It was more fun than I imagined, but it's over now, and we're back here, back in business. Happy to be back, missed the guys."
"It's a great tournament, it's a tough tournament. You play against the best players in the world and it's not the same situation that's in the NHL but it's still a battle, and it was great -- a great thing for the Finns to get that medal. Nobody expected us to win it."
At 28 years old, Loui Eriksson went to Sochi with the hope of finding his game, after two concussions had sidelined him for most of the season. With injuries to Sweden's squad, he played on the top line and was one of its most versatile forwards all tournament, helping his native country to the silver medal.
"I felt good over there," Eriksson said back in Boston. "I played a lot in all different situations, and it was really fun to be a part of it and go that far, make it to the finals and everything. We have a tough stretch coming up here, so of course I want to continue to work hard here and try to find my game - I'm looking forward to it."
While the tournament didn't pan out as hoped for Bruins Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, whose Slovakia and Czech Republic squads didn't make it to the medal round, they still had the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage.
After 22 games involving Bruins (and a host of 3:00 a.m. wakeup calls back in Boston to watch them all), the Spoked-B was well-represented.
"Our players represented us extremely well here and I'm really proud of them," Julien said.
While the handful of Bruins would manage their rest over the next month, their bench boss came back re-energized.
"I just enjoyed the experience, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing that you wish everybody could experience at least once," he said after winning gold in his first Olympics. "If anything, the excitement over there really energized me coming back, and I'm looking forward to trying to accomplish the same thing here with this Bruins team."
"I think for our team, we've got three medals, so I think everyone should be feeling pretty good about themselves going into the month of March," Rask had said. "And hopefully we can share that confidence we have from the Olympics to the other guys."
The Bruins would lose their first two games out of the gate after Sochi before whipping off 12 straight wins and a 15-1-1 month of March.
They looked primed for a long playoff run, but those in the Spoked-B couldn't sustain that pace through the playoffs.
Medals will never provide solace for the absence of the Cup. But looking back, it's hard to deny that those Olympic memories will stick; the Black & Gold will just be hoping to add another silver piece of hardware to their accomplishments as soon as they can.