“WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs as I jumped up and down hugging my friends. Last Night, after the Bruins seriously stressed me out for over an hour, putting my in a depressed and gloomy state, I could finally be relieved and happy again as I yelled to the point of losing my voice. With 14 and a half minutes left in what looked to be the end of the Bruins’ season, the Maple Leafs were up 4-1 in Game 7. I started to think about how much I love this team.. THIS team, which is mostly made up of the guys who won the Stanley Cup in 2011. I am also a fan of head coach Claude Julien. Many people were starting to doubt him, as well as many of the players on the team. I started wondering who was going to be fired when they lost this game. Julien would likely have been the biggest target, followed by some of the players who have been called out for lack of effort, like Milan Lucic. I was starting to get depressed and sat there with a blank stare, looking like a zombie.
But then… About halfway through the third period, Lucic, the man who took the most scrutiny about effort, said he looked around at his team with the same love that I mentioned above and said “We’re not going down like this, and we’re not letting this team get broken up.” He started playing hard and hitting even harder, and the rest of the team followed. Then, with under 11 minutes left in regulation, signs of life: Lucic and David Krejci assisted on a goal by Nathan Horton (another guy who had been underperforming). Now we were only down by two with 10 minutes left, within striking distance. But then the minutes kept ticking off the clock until there were only two minutes left and we were still down by two. So, Julien did what was necessary and pulled Tuukka Rask out of the net for the extra skater. It was a stretch to think we could score two goals in two minutes with an empty net, but I still had faith as the Bruins were pushing hard and making smart plays. With less than a minute and a half left they were working their offense and Zdeno Chara took a shot from the blue line. It was blocked, but Lucic got the rebound and knocked it in. Now we were only down by one with 82 seconds left. It’s so rare to score with an empty net, could we do it twice? The short answer is yes. The long answer is YEEEESSSSSSSSS!! 22 seconds after the previous goal, Patrice Bergeron took a shot from the point and scored to tie the game with under a minute left!
The way the Bruins were playing at the end of the game, I had a pretty good feeling they were going to win. They continued their strong play in the overtime period and six minutes into it, the man who tied the game came through again. Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand were working the puck around the Leafs’ net. Marchand got it to Bergeron for a one-timer. It was blocked and Seguin trying to knock in the rebound. Then that rebound came back to Bergeron and he quickly shot it in to complete the epic and historical comeback, the final dagger to the heart of the Maple Leafs. With the win, the Bruins took the series and became the first time EVER to win a playoff Game 7 after being down by three goals in the third period! 15 hours later, I’m still high off of this miraculous win!
While the Bruins’ comeback was the main story of this game, there were others. First, our defense was hurting as both Andrew Ference and Wade Redden were out with injuries. To make things worse, Dennis Seidenberg went out in the first period with a leg injury. This meant that rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who had been a healthy scratch for most of the series, had to play, and play a lot. He did make some nervous rookie mistakes, but he did his job. But my big props go to Matt Bartkowski, who was called up from the minors. He played way better than anyone expected for 25 minutes of ice time and even scored the Bruins’ first goal of the game with a sweet shot from the point. Zdeno Chara also played his usual solid game with a whopping 36 minutes of ice time.
Still, the defense was weaker than it would’ve been if the veterans weren’t injured. So the main staple of the defense, our goalie, had to have a great game.. and he did! Rask stopped 24 of 28 shots, including seven of eight during Leafs power plays. You really had to see his performance, though, as the numbers don’t show that some of those saves were ridiculous glove saves on shots that looked like they would definitely go into the net. One of those saves was a game-changer too. It came when the Leafs were still up 4-1 and letting it in would almost certainly have sealed the game.
The other big story was how the team stepped up.. and it was mostly thanks to Lucic, who got everyone going by hitting and skating hard. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him, seeing as he had taken the most flak of anyone for underperforming. And as Lucic goes, so goes the team. They all had a part in this comeback and it feels great! If I had to pick a hero of the game, it would be tough, but I would have to pick three.. Lucic for getting the team going, Rask for keeping them alive, and Bergeron for scoring the game-tying and game-winning goals, as well as playing his ass off like he always does. Bergeron was also huge in the faceoff circle, helping the team win 43 faceoffs to the Leafs’ 18.
I saw this poster on another blogger’s page and just had to share it as it rings so true:
When I posted on Facebook yesterday “it figures that the Bruins would let it go to Game 7″ and “it’s ok because they always play best when their backs are against the wall,” I never thought they would have to be that far against the wall! Down by three with 11 minutes left in an elimination game, they never gave up, even though it seemed impossible to win. Their perseverance and determination is a great inspiration. As a Bruins fan, you should have some serious confidence after this performance.
Now we move ahead to the Eastern Conference Semifinals to take on the New York Rangers, who we haven’t played in the playoffs since 1973. They are a good team, but their strongest player is their goalie, Henrik Lundqvist.. and he can be beaten.. and we will. This “Original Six” matchup should prove to be very entertaining. Just remember, Bruins fans, as I’ve always said, and as last night should undoubtedly prove to you: no matter what happens, no matter what the situation is, you must always..
Here are some videos of this epic game:
Extended Game 7 highlights (HD):
Short Game 7 highlights (SD):
Matt Bartkowski’s scores his first NHL goal/first NHL Playoff goal/the first goal of the game:
Tuukka Rask makes a huge kick save against Joffrey Lupul on a break:
Nathan Horton scores the Bruins’ second goal of the game:
Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron each score a goal with an empty net in the last minute and a half to tie the game:
Patrice Bergeron scores the game-winning overtime goal:
Same clip as above but in SD, and by the NHL, so it won’t get removed:
Maple Leafs fans disperse after losing their first playoff series in nine years:
Thanks for reading,