NOTE: “ECQF” stands for Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
I’m stunned. I’m baffled. I’m shocked. I’m deeply disturbed. After last night’s Game 7 between the Bruins and Capitals, I find myself disappointed, depressed and in disbelief. I look around and feel like this must just be a dream, well, a nightmare, wondering if this is real life like this kid. With the Bruins having not been eliminated from the playoffs in two years, I’d forgotten what it felt like. For me, with the Bruins being my absolute favorite team, this loss hurt more than the Patriots losing the Superbowl to the Giants for the second time.. ya, it’s that bad. I wish I could just hibernate until the next hockey season because I can’t get this out of my head.. and I’m pissed that we have to wait five months. I want to start again tomorrow!
It was only a first round elimination, rather than going all the way and then losing like the Patriots did, but it’s about the potential we had, and the way we lost. The way the rest of the playoffs were playing out, we would’ve had a pretty easy path to the Stanley Cup Finals again, and even a pretty good chance of winning.. but it all came down to an unlucky bounce.. a one-in-a-million bounce on an attempt to whack the puck into their end for a line change that happened to rebound off of someone’s leg to perfectly setup the Capitals for a 2-on-1 break leading to their game-winning goal. Another thing I’d like to mention is that Mike Knuble had both of his feet in the goalie crease during that final shot by Joel Ward.. and it wasn’t because he was forced there, he just skated there and stopped, which is not allowed. That goal probably should’ve been taken away, which makes this all hurt that much more.
What sucks about this loss even more is that we would’ve had a pretty easy path to the Stanley Cup Finals, especially if the Senators knock out the Rangers tonight. We probably could’ve swept the Senators in the next round. So if the Capitals don’t go all the way and completely waste the chance we had to be repeat champions, I will hate them a thousand times more than I do now.
[UPDATE: 4/28/12] Alright, I’m seriously pissed now.. the Capitals totally don’t deserve to be in Round 2 and I’ll tell you why. I just found out that more people in Washington D.C. watched the Redskins NFL draft than the Bruins/Capitals Game 7!! Really Washington? It’s a friggin NHL playoff game 7! Even if you’re team isn’t playing that’s still going to be some of the best and most intense post-season sports you’ve seen. Furthermore, who the hell are the Redskins? They suck ass, so why do you even care? Plus, EVERYONE already knew they were going to pick Robert Griffin III as their top pick. So why, Washington, why? You took out the Bruins and you don’t even care?! I now have the same level of hate for you as I do for the Habs and Canucks!
I mainly attribute the Capitals winning to the Bruins’ lack of effort and urgency. We didn’t have the desperation that we needed and should’ve had and were sloppy as team. The disappointment starts with Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Brad Marchand, who all played way below their potential, but the same goes for the whole roster. Lucic, someone we needed to step up, had no shots the whole game.
They came out with literally zero energy.. and the crowd had a hard time getting into it since the team seemed not to be. We definitely could’ve used Shawn Thornton’s help to pump them up by doing his thing.. fighting and/or giving big hits. The Bruins only had 52 penalty minutes in the entire series.. and no fights! That’s rediculously far from true Bruins hockey, which we really could’ve used. By contrast, the last Flyers/Penguins game had about 150 penalty minutes alone. I think part of the reason it wasn’t a very physical or energetic series is that there wasn’t enough hate for the Capitals in Bruins nation (though there certainly is now). If it were the Canadiens, like last year’s first round, or the Canucks, or the Flyers, the rivalry would’ve fueled us and given us that extra push.. the crowd and the team.
Another big issue was that a bunch of our top players were injured. Last year, Nathan Horton was the one to get the team really into it and playing harder than they thought possible. He also scored two game-winning goals in Game 7’s last year.. we really could’ve used his help, but he’s been out with a concussion for months. It would’ve been a lot different if we have Adam McQuaid too as our defense was kind of weak (besides Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, as usual). After getting slammed face-first into the boards, he was out with what was originally called a cut eye, but they changed it to an “upper body” injury later, so I assume there’s a bigger issue. Oh and remember Marc Savard? He was our star forward until his concussion two years ago. He’s been out since then, yet is still on our roster as he’s under contract. It would’ve been a huge improvement to have him healthy and playing.
Patrice Bergeron’s injury was another huge factor in this game. He is the best all-around Bruin by far, and we really needed him to be at 100%, but he wasn’t. So he wasn’t able to make the type of great moves and plays he normally could and he couldn’t take any faceoffs.. and he’s one of the best at faceoffs in the league (second best this year, winning 59% of the time).
We also needed a better power play. Even though we were terrible at it last year and still won the Stanley Cup, it would’ve made a big difference here.. If we had scored just one more goal with the man advantage, we probably would’ve won the series.. especially if it was during the power play right at the end of regulation in this game, which was a total gift from the refs, who were basically saying they wanted the Bruins to win. We were 2 for 23 on the power play in this series, and 0 for 3 in this game.
Some people are saying that the Bruins lost because the Capitals are better. This is a fallacy. The Bruins are better, but the Capitals played better in this series. Still, while they were indeed good, and much better than expected, the Bruins should’ve been able to win.. The Capitals only won because they lucked out with the puck bouncing off a leg leading to a 2-on-1 for them and the game-winning goal. The Bruins are still a better team, at least potentially and on paper, they just didn’t play up to par.
People are already praising Capitals goalie Braden Holtby as one of the elite. Wow now, hold on. He did play well, and better than expected, being called up from the minors, but let’s look closer. He did make a ton of saves, but the majority of those shots were trash.. he really didn’t have to make that many tough saves. So you can’t really make conclusions about him just yet. Let’s see how he holds up against a team that is giving a full effort.
Now the Bruins have to deal with whether or not to re-sign a whole bunch of players. Brian Rolston, Chris Kelly, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Joe Corvo, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau are all unrestricted free agents, and Benoit Pouliot is a restricted free agent. It’s been speculated that Kelly, Campbell, Mottau and Pouliot will all be re-signed. Unfortunately, the Bruins also need to start thinking about the following summer, when Nathan Horton, Andrew Ference, Tim Thomas (if he’s not traded) and our top goalie in the minor league, Anton Khudobin, become unrestricted free agents and Milan Lucic, Tyler Seguin, Brad Marchand and Jordan Caron become restricted free agents.
I would really hate to see anyone go as they’ve all made substantial contributions to the team. Plus, this was the best Bruins team in years as it had all the important pieces from last year’s championship team, plus some new ones. Chris Kelly is one player that really stood out. He had a great break-out year, setting personal records, and has been a huge addition to the team. I really hope we can keep him. The same goes for Benoit Pouliot.
The most important of all the roster decisions, though, is who will be our goulie going forward. Do we stick with what appears to be a waning Tim Thomas, or trust in Tuukka Rask, who played like an elite goalie two years ago, but not so much this year? I hope Tim Thomas doesn’t get traded.. or retire (which he would probably do if he didn’t get an offer from the Bruins).. there were some rumors about it. I would have a really tough time saying goodbye to him. However, as much as I would hate to, this would be the time to do it as we would be able to get some pretty serious pieces in exchange.. like maybe a superstar forward, which would make us way more deadly.
Zach Parise of the Devils will be a free agent after this season. It would be great to get him, but he will be asking for a ton of money and I don’t know if we’ll have the space under the salary cap. Rick Nash would be another big help to our offense, and he may not require as much since I’m assuming he would love to leave the Blue Jackets, who are the worst team in the league. Any star forward would be huge for us, but we would probably have to trade away Tim Thomas. If we do lose him and Tuukka Rask doesn’t get back to where he was two years ago when he was playing like an elite goalie, I see us having our chances at playoff success seriously decrease.. This is because unfortunately, while we can create some good offense, we’re not one of those teams with a superstar that can carry a team with their scoring, regardless of how bad their goalie is. But there’s no reason Rask shouldn’t be able to get back to his high level of play. Plus, even he doesn’t, Anton Khudobin has been amazing in the minors and could probably transition to the NHL without too much trouble.
I’d also like to mention that our local NESN announcer, Jack Edwards, who we love, was very professional and unbaised in what he said and how he said it. He’s a huge Bruins fan, yet when the Capitals won, he still yelled just as excitedly as if the Bruins had won. I mention this because so many people call him a homer and say he is one-sided in what he says. Well that call at the end of the game, along with the rest of the series, and even the whole season, proved that this is not true. If the haters really listened to his whole broadcasts, they would see that they’re wrong. On the other hand, the local Capitals announcers went way beyond what people say Edwards does in a quite annoying fashion. So shut your mouths Jack Edwards naysayers!
This Doesn’t Mean the Bruins’ Reign is Over
So, the Bruins were eliminated in the first round. Well, the only thing that really means is that we won’t get to win back-to-back Stanley Cups this year. It doesn’t mean we suck now or something.. it’s harder to win consecutive championships in hockey than in any other sport! Nine of the last eleven Stanley Cup champions didn’t get past the first round of playoffs in the following year. We can and will still dominate as one of the best teams in the league, especially if we get a star forward. Also, we do still have the chance to be the champions in two out of three years like we did in 1970 and 1972 by winning next year.
What’s most important for Bruins fans to realize is that this loss still doesn’t take away from the fact that last year the Bruins had one of the most epic runs for the Stanley Cup ever.. and won it! This year, we also had notable achievements. The first was making it so far and doing so well even though last year we played all the way into June, leaving us a very short off-season for rest (both physical and mental). The second is that we won the Northeast Division and were second in the Eastern Conference. Lastly, we were only one goal away from going on another epic playoff run that would’ve given us a pretty good chance of winning the Stanley Cup again. If we had won, we would likely be facing some teams we could beat much more easily. Plus we would’ve gotten a boost to our game and compete-level from beating the Capitals.
So try not to be too discouraged. Remember how good the Bruins were in November and December when everyone was healthy? We had a streak of 15 games without losing in regulation with a record of 14-0-1 and it started with a 10 game win streak! At that point, the Bruins were the best team in the league by far. Then in the playoffs we made it this far even with a bunch of key players injured. So, Bruins fans, considering these facts, you should look forward to next year with great optimism and excitement.. and remember…
This section is where I put my notes from the game, with the plays that I felt were worth highlighting and/or ranting about. This is basically my version of a game recap, intended for those who would like to read one that tells more than just what happened on paper. So, if you just want a summarization and my thoughts on what the game means for the Bruins, just read the section above and the “Final Thoughts/Notes” section near the bottom, then check out the videos and links that follow…
-About a min in, Thomas makes a nice save.
-3 mins in, Thomas makes another nice save.
-5 mins in, we get a nice offensive stand with a good chance on a deflected shot.
-8 mins in, we get a great scoring chance with a 3-on-2 rush.. Mottau to Zanon to Krejci. We got another one right after off of a rebound.
-11 mins in, the Bruins try to get the puck out of their zone but the puck ends up bouncing over Lucic’s stick as he was expecting to grab it and rush ahead.. then the Capitals grab the loose puck, get it to Carlson, he shoots and Hendricks tips it in the net for his first NHL playoff goal.
-14 mins in, Backstrom hits Bergeron on his injured and weak side as they go to the bench.. total bitch move.
-After that, both teams start checking each other hard. Then, Lucic puts a huge hit on Chimera in front of the benchs.. then Chimera comes out and starts stabbing with his stick right in front of a ref.. nothing gets called.
-17 mins in, we get a great chance with Marchand passing from behind the net to Peverley right in front.
-18 mins in, Marchand rushes in and gets tripped.. the penalty gets called as he would’ve had a good chance.
-On the power play:
–The Capitals clear it. Then Seguin rushes in and takes a nice shot 5-hole that Holtby barely closed his legs in time to save.
–We get another good stand with a nice shot by Rolston, but the Capitals defend well and keep us from getting setup for the rest of the period. About 15 seconds of the power play time will carry over to the next period.
-The period ends 1-0 Capitals.
-The Capitals scored the first goal in five of the seven games.
-Shots on goal were 11-5 and scoring chances were 5-2, both in favor of the Bruins. Hits were 14-10 in favor of the Capitals.
-The rest of the penalty from last period runs out.
-A min in, Thomas makes a huge blocker save on Semin.
-3 mins in, Seguin battles for the puck and gives a nice hit.. something he’s not known for.. it was nice to see.
-Almost 5 mins in, Chara gets the puck to Marchand, he shoots, Krejci tips it for a good chance but Holtby makes a big save.
-Soon after, Chara puts a nice hit on Brouwer and we do some good offensive work.
-6 mins in we get a good chance, Rolston gets high-sticked.. no call. Unfortunately, since it’s Game 7, the refs are trying not to call anything and just let them play so that a bad call doesn’t get blamed for changing who the winner would be.
-7.5 mins in, Boychuk puts a big, classic hip-check on Beagle rushing in.
-9 mins in, we get a great offensive stand.
-Halfway through, we take the puck in the neutral zone, get it to Seguin rushing in, and he gets a great shot off.
-12 mins in, Peverley rushes in and takes a nice shot, catching Holtby off gaurd as he went to his knees then had to lift his glove had high to block the shot.
-13.5 mins in, we get a couple of good chances.
-A min later, we get a great offensive stand.. we put a nice hit on Backstrom, then we get a shot on goal, the puck dribbles behind Holtby, then Seguin fights through a two much bigger defenders, Alzner and Carlson, as well as their goalie, Holtby, to tap it in for his fifth career playoff goal and second of the playoffs this year!
-Soon after, theres a small scrum after the whistle.
-16 mins in, Thomas makes a big kick save.
-A min later, there’s another scrum and Chara knocks down Ward.
-18.5 mins in, Marchand carries the puck in, shoots it backhand for a tip, Holtby leaves the rebound loose in front of him and we get a great chance jamming at it.
-Then, away from the play, Peverley gets hit by a Capitals defensemen, then Holtby from behind, knocking him down.. so Peverley fakes a slash at Holtby.
-The period ends tied 1-1.
-After Seguin’s goal, the crowd got into it, along with the Bruins themselves, who got a jump in their step.
-In this period we out-shot the Capitals 14-8, with the totals so far being 25-13, also in favor of the Bruins.
-In this series, the Bruins are 3-1-0 when the game is tied after 2 periods.
-Just over a min in, Hamrlik gets a penalty for holding the stick.
-On the power play:
–We get the puck in their end, then Chara gets a nice shot on goal that leaves a rebound laying in front of Holtby.. Then we get it to Seidenberg for a nice shot. Then the Capitals clear the puck out of the zone.
–After that we get another nice chance, but the Capitals kill off the penalty.
-5 mins in, Chara makes a great defenseive play to stop a break by Johansson.
-7 mins in, Seidenberg shoots and Pouliot tips it for a good chance.
-Almost a min later, Caron battles for the puck in the Capitals end, gets the puck to Paille, who leaves it for Caron, but Caron gets interfered with getting to te puck.. no call.
-Soon after we get a good offensive stand.
-Almost halfway through, Thomas makes a nice save on Laich.
-A min later, we get a couple of nice shots, then Bergeron gets a hooking penalty.
-On the penalty kill:
–We start by clearing the puck.
–Then we defend well with some great plays and big saves by Thomas.
–We kill it off with a nice 2-on-1 break. We kept the Capitals to only one shot on goal.
-In the next couple of minutes, we get some great chances. Seidenberg also made a great block on a shot that had a pretty good chance.
-17 mins in, Boychuk took a hit that hurt his hand.. he had to skate off the ice.
-Right after, Seguin makes a great nuetral zone streal, then Lucic does some nice puck work and dekes.
-Then Chimera gets a holding penalty.
-On the power play:
–The Capitals keep us from getting setup for the first minute.
–Then we get a nice stand with a nice shot by Boychuk.
–Soon after Rolston gets a nice shot off, then again off of the rebound.
–The Capitals kill the penalty off.
-After that, there’s only 25 seconds left, which run out with the help of the Capitals holding the puck.. it goes to sudden death overtime.
-30 secs in, Marchand carries in, controls well, gets it to Seidenberg, he shoots, Bergeron gets a great chance off of the rebound on the wide open side of the net, but the puck was bouncing and he didn’t get much on the shot.
-2 mins in, we get a nice offensive stand.
-3 mins, in, Pouliot tries to whack the puck into their end for a line change, it bounces off a leg, the Capitals get a 2-on-1.. Kuble carries, shoots.. Ward scores off of the rebound and ends the reign of the Bruins. It was only his 10th goal.
-My heart, as well as that of every other Bruins fan, is broken.
-One thing I’d like to mention is that Knuble had both feet in the goalie crease during that final shot.. and it wasn’t because he was forced there, he just skated there and stopped, which is not allowed. That goal probably should’ve been taken away, which makes this all hurt that much more.
-Shots on goal were 32-27 and scoring chances were 15-12, both in favor of the Bruins.
Final Thoughts / Notes
-The Bruins and Capitals became the first teams ever to have a playoff series in which all seven games were won by only one goal.
-In the series, the goals scored were 16-15 Capitals. The Bruins were 2 for 23 on the power play and the Capitals were 3 for 19.
-Jordan Caron and Mike Mottau played, Shawn Thornton did not.
-Patrice Bergeron, one of the Bruins’ absolute best players, sustained an “upper body” injury in Game 5. Because of this he was not able to take any faceoffs in Game 6 (except one important one) and didn’t take any in this game either. That hurts because he is amazing at winning faceoffs and is second in the league at it with a 59% win average. He had limited ice time.
-Going into this game, Tim Thomas’s playoff stats so far were: 2.18 GAA, .922 Save %. He had a pretty good season overall, but nowhere near as good as his epic playoff run last year in which he basically won the Stanley Cup for us. His record this season was 35-19-1 with a 2.36 GAA and .920 save percentage.
-Tyler Seguin led the Bruins with shots on goal in the series with 31.. 10 more than anyone else on the team. He had one assist and two goals.. they were the last two the Bruins scored in the series. -The Bruins shot leader in this game was also Seguin, with seven. On the other hand, Milan Lucic, someone we needed to step up, had no shots.
-The Bruins only had 52 penalty minutes in the entire series.. and no fights! That’s not true Bruins hockey, which we really could’ve used. By contrast, the last Flyers/Penguins game had about 150 penalty minutes alone.
-It’s harder to win consecutive championships in hockey than in any other sport..
9 of the last 11 Stanley Cup champions didn’t get out of the first round of playoffs in the following year.
-We still won the Northeast Division and were second in the Eastern Conference.
-Patrice Bergeron is one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy. This trophy is given to the forward who demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game.
-Zdeno Chara is one of three finalists for the Norris Trophy. This trophy is given to the top defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position. This was Chara’s seventh nomination. He won it in 2009.
–[UPDATE: 4/27/12] Now that the season is over, the Bruins’ injury details have come out. It turns out that Tyler Seguin was playing through a displaced tendon in his left middle finger knucke for over a month! He will need surgery in the off-season. Also, they’ve released what Adam McQuaid’s injury really is from when he was hit face-first into the boards. They originally called it a cut above his eye, then they started calling it an “upper body” injury. They’ve now said that he actually suffered a concussion! Great, another Bruin player with a concussion.
Around the League
After this game, most of the top seeds and favorites for making good runs have been eliminated, with the last one remaining, the Rangers, facing the same fate tonight. Here’s how the playoff bracket looks currently:
You can stay updated on the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs here:
Videos / Links
Here’s a video of NBC’s preview of the game:
Here’s a video of Milan Lucic knocking down Jason Chimera as they head off of the ice to their benches:
Here’s a video of Brad Marchand getting tripped (not diving):
(watch the slow-mo part and you’ll see it was a legit trip)
Here’s a video of Johnny Boychuk’s big hip-check on Jay Beagle:
Here’s a video of Tyler Seguins goal (the last for the Bruins this season):
Here’s a video of Rich Peverley being knocked around, away from the play, by John Carlson and Braden Holtby, then faking a slash at Holtby:
Here’s a video of Dennis Seidenberg’s huge block on a shot by Alex Ovechkin:
Here’s a video of our turnover and Joel Ward’s game-winning goal:
(slow-mo/other camera angles start at 3:37)
Here’s a video recap of the goals and big saves from the game:
Here’s an extended video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s video recap of the game:
Here’s the NHL’s page of video clips of the goals and some saves and hits:
Here’s the NHL’s photos from the game:
Here’s the NHL’s top Bruins photos from the whole season:
Thanks for reading,