This is tough. I wasn’t able to even think about writing this for the past week, and even now I’m really forcing myself. While fair weather fans can forget about it easily and move on to the Red Sox, true Bruins fans feel really depressed. I almost feel like I got dumped by the girl of my dreams (hence this post’s title).. but not just that.. it feels like she dumped me to be with my best friend. I’m not sure if that analogy really works but what I’m getting at is that the Bruins being eliminated from the playoffs in the second round is extra painful for a few big reasons.
It’s not just that we’re Bruins fans and they lost, it’s the fact that they had immense potential. They finished the regular season at the top of the league, winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time since the 1989-90 season, but more importantly, they were considered by the majority to be the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. This team was absolutely the most complete, solid, and deep in the whole league. They should’ve been able to pull it off. Unfortunately, the Habs played their best and the Bruins didn’t even show up. The team we saw skating for Boston in this series was a shell of what we saw in the regular season. That even included our world-class goalie Tuukka Rask. Even if just he played to his potential, we would’ve had a great chance. But nobody did, and you can’t win if you’re not there.
Another reason this sucked is how many close chances we had. We hit something like 14 posts and had probably just as many open nets that we missed. Some of that is just bad “puck luck” and “bad bounces,” but unfortunately, it also means we couldn’t finish. This is part of the team not showing up as I previously mentioned. I’m still trying to close my mouth after the incredibly high number of jaw-dropping missed shots where one of our players had a wide open side of the net and shanked it. Scoring any one of them could’ve won us an extra game and the series. But again, these guys just weren’t there. I don’t know how else to describe it. It just wasn’t our year I guess.
Still, what hurts the most is that the team we lost to was our archrivals, the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins/Habs rivalry goes back almost a century and is arguably the most heated and passionate rivalry in all of professional sports (besides maybe some soccer rivalries outside of North America, which I don’t really know about). Yes, I’m from Boston, where the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is the most pronounced (shirts, bumper stickers, etc.) and I’m still saying this is a bigger rivalry. Even my friend who is a total baseball nut/fanatic/historian and huge Red Sox fan/Yankees hater says that Bruins/Habs is bigger. The average American may not even know this rivalry exists, but that’s because hockey is arguably the least popular of the professional sports (at least in the States). However, true hockey and Bruins fans understand. I’ll admit, my obsession with the Bruins is probably over the top and unhealthy, but there are many who love this team as much as I do. For those of us who fit that description on either side of the rivalry, there is a very real and true hatred of the rival team, fanbase, and city. So, naturally, there is nobody you would want to lose to less.
The other thing that hurts is that this exact roster was very likable and fun to watch.. and they will not all return next year. There may only be some slight changes, but some speculate certain big names being traded away. I don’t want to see any of these guys leave. The headline of trade speculation is that Jarome Iginla may sign somewhere else. Of all the guys who might not return, I would miss him the most. It was fun to watch him as he seemed to really enjoy himself with this team. He also said that he and his family loved the Boston area. More importantly, though, he had a fantastic season and seemed to fit in extremely well. He had 30 goals in the regular season and far surpassed all other Bruins in the playoffs with five goals. He is a true asset and I really hope he’s wearing black and gold next season.
On that note, one thing that pisses me off to think about is that if Jarome Iginla had chosen to come here instead of going to the Penguins last year, many think we would’ve won the Stanley Cup. I believe that too. We only needed a little bit more than what we had to put us over the top, and he would’ve easily made that difference. He obviously chose the wrong team as we swept them in the Eastern Conference Finals last year.. and they got taken out early again this year. Ugh! But there’s no use dwelling on the past. Instead, we must look ahead with hope.
Who will return next year? My heart wants this exact roster again, but my head knows that some changes must be made as core group hasn’t been enough to win the Cup in the last few years, however close we may have gotten. I definitely want Jarome Iginla back as I said, though. When he, David Krejci, and Milan Lucic were clicking, they were the best line in hockey this year. And while talking about best lines, I think that Carl Soderberg, Loui Eriksson, and Chris Kelly were by far the best third line in hockey. I want to see them together again next year. Our second line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Reilly Smith was solid at times, but inconsistent. Patrice Bergeron should be a Bruin until he retires as he is consistently in the running for the Selke Trophy (for best defensive forward) and is also typically right at the top for face-off win percentage. The other two guys, however, are questions. I did like Smith, but he was probably the most inconsistent in terms of production. Marchand is a great shooter, but dealt with some cold streaks as well. Plus, as much as we like him instigating and getting under opponents’ skin, he does make some bad decisions and takes stupid penalties. For this reason, he is the big name that is speculated to be traded if any big name is. Our fourth line has been together for a long time and is usually the best fourth line in the game. They also bring the energy and physicality. However, enforcer Shawn Thornton’s contract is up, so some think he may not be signed again. The reason is that as much as he helps us in the regular season, since there’s usually no place for fighting in the playoffs, he is rendered somewhat useless. Still, he alone can get the team pumped up with a big hit or fight, and he is a big part of this team’s personality. So I would be sad to see him go, as much as it might make sense. Lastly, there’s the goalie, Tuukka Rask. He is one of the best in the world and there’s no reason we should even think about trading him right now. Bruins management knows this.. He will be here at least for several more years. We just have to hope that it was the birth of his first child (during this series) that distracted him and had him not looking like the Rask we know. Cam Neely, Peter Chiarelli and the rest of Bruins management know what they’re doing. So, we just have to sit back, trust in them, and wait for September.
Bruins ‘Thank You’ Video:
Game 7 highlights:
Jarome Iginla’s Game 7 goal (the last Bruins goal of the season):
Thanks for reading,