On November 29th Bruins legend Rick Middleton will see his number 16 raised to the TD Garden rafters. Nifty spent 12 years in black and gold and his 402 goals rank him third in club history.
Middleton was a guest on this week’s Bruins Beat Podcast on CLNS Media with host Jimmy Murphy. Nifty talked about his illustrious career including the Bruins magical 1988 playoff run, which saw them topple their arch rivals, the Montreal Canadiens.
“Beating the Canadiens was not only big in my era of playing against them, but for 45 years the Bruins had never beat Montreal in a a playoff series,” said Middleton. “That was my Stanley Cup.”
To beat the Habs, a few things had to go the Bruins’ way.
“In ’88, a couple of big things happened for our team,” said Nifty. “Craig Janney and Bob Joyce came over to the team and gave us another scoring line that really propelled us into the Finals that year. And in the series against Montreal in Game 2, Michael Thelven slashed Stephane Richer and broke his wrist. Stephane was the Guy Lafleur of Montreal at the time.
“Them losing Richer really hurt their goal production and that really helped us go on to beat them.”
Middleton and the Bruins would lose the first game of the series but proceeded to outscore the Canadiens 13-5 over the next four games en route to a 4-1 series win, the B’s first playoff series victory over the Habs in 45 years.
The Bruins defeated the NJ Devils in the conference finals setting up a Stanley Cup Finals showdown with the mighty Edmonton Oilers. That series is mostly remembered for the power outage in game 4 at the Garden which forced the game to be replayed in Edmonton. Didn’t seem fair at the time but with the B’s trailing the series 3-0, Middleton admits it didn’t really make much of a difference.
“What would’ve happened had the series gone on was that Game 7 would’ve come back to Boston,” he said. “I didn’t know that until a couple of years ago. But that series wasn’t going seven. They were such a powerhouse. We tried our best.”