EPIC Bruins Playoff Run Comes to a Sad End

The Bruins salute that fans after an epic Stanley Cup run in 2013 (6/24/13 - Finals Game 6)

Bruins players salute that fans after an epic Stanley Cup run in 2013.

Monday night, I was very pleased as I watched the Bruins dominate and impose their will on the Blackhawks.  They were up 2-1 with a minute and a half left in regulation when out of nowhere, the Blackhawks scored to tie the game.  “UGGGGHHHH” I said, as I got up to go to the bathroom.  I figured damn, well it’s going to overtime.  Then I come back with half a minute left in the game and what?!?!.. the Blackhawks scored again 17 seconds later to take a 3-2 lead over the Bruins and eventually win?!?!  W T F ? ! ? !

I tried to write about it yesterday but it was too painful.  Even now it’s very difficult.  I was so emotionally involved and stressed out during this Bruins playoff run that it just seems cruel and unfair to have it end in a loss.  I hate life and I hate the world and I hate sports.. at least right now.  This is the worst part of being a sports fan.  My heart is broken.. and I mean for real.. I feel pain in my chest every time I think about this loss, which is about 59 seconds out of every minute that passes.  I’m so dramatically devastated that I’m considering not watching sports anymore.  It won’t really happen because I love sports, but damn.. I don’t know if my body and mind and psyche can handle another ride all the way to a championship that ends in a loss.  I think it would’ve hurt less to lose to the crappy Maple Leafs in the first round.  Ugh!

On a quick side note, I would like to mention that while I definitely respect the Blackhawks, I now despise Patrick Kane.  As the game ended, everyone was showing good sportsmanship except for him.  He flipped off the crowd.  What a lowlife piece of shit!  He should have to give his Conn Smythe Trophy to Patrice Bergeron.

Among the numerous reasons that this loss sucks major ass, I think the biggest is that there isn’t much longer in the window of opportunity for championships with this current team core.  We have some older guys, and in particular, our captain and a true leader, Zdeno Chara, is probably the closest to retirement of anyone on the team.  At age 36, you can clearly see him slowing down and it’s totally depressing because he is such a huge part of this team.  It’s Tuukka Rask in net, Patrice Bergeron doing literally everything, and Chara playing arguably the best defense ever and dominating physically.  Those are the main keys to the Bruins, and with Chara, there may only be a few years left.. and the chances of him being able to lead us to a Stanley Cup decrease with each year.

Yes, I wanted to win it this year because it would’ve been a repeat of how the Bruins won in two of three years in ’39/’41 and ’70/’72.  I wanted to win so Boston could take home the first possible championship after the tragedy of the Boston Marathon Bombing, and in honor of everyone hurt by it, and the Boston Strong movement.  I wanted to win for Gregory Campbell, who broke his leg blocking a shot, then stayed on the ice and played defense for a full minute.  I wanted to win for Patrice Bergeron, who always gives it his all, is a huge factor, and who played Game 6 of the Finals with a broken rib, torn cartilage, punctured lung, and a separated shoulder.  I wanted to win so that Tuukka Rask would truly be considered one of the elite goalies (he will be, but not as much as if he had won).  I wanted to win so Jaromir Jagr could get one more ring at age 41, and as a Bruin.  I wanted to win because after our legendary, epic, record-setting comeback against the Maple Leafs (down by three with minutes left in Game 7), it seemed to be our destiny.  I wanted to win because we destroyed the Rangers and swept the best offense in the league in the Penguins, and again it seemed that we were unstoppable.  I wanted to win for this exact roster of Bruins, because I love each and every one of them.  I wanted to win because it’s The Cup.  But most of all, I wanted to win because the window of opportunity to do it with this core of guys is ever closing.  Further, while these Bruins players will take this experience into the future, playing harder and being more focused in their next playoff run, it really sucks that they’ll have to deal with the “Stanley Cup hangover” even though they didn’t win.  With only 13 weeks until they get back on the ice, they will have the shortest offseason in the league (other than the Blackhawks), so it will be very tough to go deep into next season’s playoffs.  Playoff hockey is more intense and demanding than any other sports, so it’s almost impossible to get to the Finals two years in a row.  Still, I’m hoping they can, because they will certainly learn from this experience and I feel very confident that the next time the Bruins get to the Finals (if it’s within the next few years), they will win.

WHY?

So the Bruins lost, but why?  Game 6 was the Bruins’ to win.  They honestly dominated for the majority of the game and had so many great scoring chances that they could’ve easily had five goals.  The one that stands out most was when Brad Marchand made a sick move to get around a Blackhawks defenseman, made a perfect pass across the ice to David Krejci right in front of their net on the other wide open side, but then puck flipped up off Krejci’s stick instead of going in.  This was an ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS scoring chance that didn’t turn into a goal!  And there were many more.  The goals we scored were beautiful, we played solid defense (except for the last minute) and killed off penalties with ease, and Tuukka Rask played great in net (besides a couple soft goals).  This game, and every game in the series for that matter, could’ve gone either way.  So why did we lose?

Well, there a number of reasons.  The most significant is that we had way too many injuries.  Zdeno Chara was playing Game 6 with a painful hip flexor injury.  Jaromir Jagr had bad hip and back pain (and wasn’t able to play much).  Dennis Seidenberg pulled his hamstring against the Maple Leafs and never fully healed.  Nathan Horton was dealing with chronic shoulder subluxation (meaning his shoulder pops out of its socket easily) and will require surgery in the offseason.  Patrice Bergeron played with a broken rib, torn cartilage, punctured lung, and separated shoulder.  I know I already mentioned that, but I can say enough how tough he is.  A few other players looked like they were playing through injuries too, but we haven’t heard yet.  Going back to the previous series, Gregory Campbell broke his leg blocking a shot, then stayed on the ice to play defense for a full minute.  He is a key player to the Bruins system, even though he doesn’t score much.  He is a great penalty killer, hard hitter, and a crucial part of our fourth line’s effectiveness.  Losing him, as well as all of our other injuries, plagued our chances.  If both teams were completely healthy, I think the Bruins would have a slight advantage.  We are really the only team in the league with all four of its lines being productive and effective.. but with injuries, we had to change the lines a bit and weren’t able to roll our third and fourth lines as much.. and that was our best weapon against any team as most had no answer for our fully healthy fourth line.

I could also bring up conspiracy theories like that the NHL is rigged and they wanted the Blackhawks to win, but I won’t.  Oh, I just did?  My bad.

Another reason we lost is all of the bad bounces.  Yes, they say bounces even out in a seven game series, but it seemed like at least half of the Blackhawks goals were lucky and flukey, while the Bruins only had a couple.

You could also point to the lack of production from some of our top scorers.  Tyler Seguin is the main target for this, but Brad Marchand is close behind.  Seguin was a first round draft pick and was supposed to be a goal scoring wiz.  He only had one playoff goal.  Marchand was the leading Bruins scorer in the regular season, and right at the top for the whole league.  He only scored four playoff goals.  Better, but still not good enough.  Jaromir Jagr is a legend, especially in the playoffs, so having not scored any goals in these playoffs, he was a let-down too (though he did create some good plays).  It was tough to find offensive production for the Bruins.  They had to look around the whole roster.  There were almost as many goals by defensemen as there were by forwards.

Some people put blame on Tuukka Rask for letting in a few soft goals.  I don’t want to go there because while he did, I think he played really well.  Most of the goals against him were due to defensive breakdowns.. not his fault.  He is an elite goalie.

Lastly, I think the sense of urgency was missing for the Bruins.  Maybe they just didn’t want it as much as the Blackhawks did, but at times they were gliding.  The biggest evidence of this was the last couple minutes of Game 6.  Up 2-1 with regulation almost over, it looked like they sat back expecting a win.  Then when the Blackhawks tied the game, they sat back again expecting overtime..  Then they let in the game-winning goal.

Whatever the reasons, the Bruins lost a very winnable Stanley Cup Final.  At least these players will learn from this experience.  It seemed at times like some of them didn’t give it their all.  With how shitty they must feel now, they’ll never forget to give a full effort in the playoffs again.. and they’ll never forget that goals can still be scored in the last minutes of regulation, so they must still play and not just wait for time to run out.  Hopefully, most of this team will be here next year and in the next few years to help provide playoff leadership and knowledge to any new guys on future playoff runs.  I think the Bruins will win another Stanley Cup in the next few years.

The 2013 Stanley Cup Final very clearly showed us that the Bruins and the Blackhawks are currently two dynasties in the NHL.  They are also very evenly matched.  So there is a silver lining.  Everyone else in the league is now scared of the Bruins (if they weren’t already) and realizes that they are truly a force to be reckoned with.

I want to mention that the crowd at the TD Garden for Game 6 was louder and more into it than I’ve EVER seen in all my years of watching and going to Bruins games.. even more than in 2011.  The absolute best part, though, was how after the game was over, even though we had lost, we all cheered “Let’s Go Bruins” for a couple of minutes while the Blackhawks players did TV interviews.  I don’t ever remember seeing fans cheer for their team after seeing them lose the Stanley Cup.  When we won it in Vancouver in 2011 their crowd was silent.  But we are Boston!  We are Boston Strong!  I think the fans know that this was an amazing run, and we are grateful for it.  So, we showed our support to the team, even after such a devastating loss.  Thank you Bruins and thank you Bruins fans!

What Could’ve Been

By losing the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, we missed our chance to end an epic playoff run by taking home The Cup, but also to do a lot of really cool things.  We didn’t get to repeat the two Stanley Cups in three years like the Bruins did in 1939 & 1941, then in 1970 & 1972.  We also could’ve been the first team to win two Stanley Cups in the past decade, but instead the Blackhawks are.  Additionally, we didn’t get to have a Boston sports team win the first possible championship after the Boston Marathon Bombing (though this doesn’t take away from all of our support for those affected by it and the Boston Strong movement).  Further, we never got to see the legendary Jaromir Jagr score a playoff goal with the Bruins, and we’re not going to because it was announced that he will not be re-signed with the team.  Lastly, we didn’t get to see the current Bruins roster win the Stanley Cup, and I wanted it for all of them.  And unfortunately, some of these guys will not be returning to Boston next year.  Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli has already announced some of the players that will not be brought back.  Jagr was one.  Jay Pandolfo was another, though he barely ever played so he’s not a huge loss.  Another is Andrew Ference, who I personally will greatly miss, and I think most fans will too.  While he didn’t have a whole lot of production this year, he really stepped up in the playoffs, and especially in the Finals.  In Game 6 I watched him make great play after great play.  He also provides good leadership.  I don’t agree with letting him go and so I’m sad to have to bid him farewell.  Thanks for everything Andrew Ference and best of luck in the future.  Two other players that are speculated to be let go are Rich Peverley and Nathan Horton.  Neither of them put up the number that they should’ve this year.  So while I understand parting ways with them, I’ve grown to love both of them and wish they could stay.  I actually love what all of these guys have done for us, so when Peverley, Horton, or any other guys who underproduced leave the team, I will really miss them.  At least in Horton’s case, there’s a chance he’ll be back as Chiarelli said he wants to re-sign him.  Our first line with David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton was the most productive line on any team in these playoffs after all.

Not getting to see all of what I just mentioned could have been just adds to how depressing this loss is for Bruins fans.  Still, I think there’s something that hurts even more than not getting to win two Stanley Cups in three years again, or not getting to be the first repeat champions in a decade, or not getting to see this roster of players get their name on The Cup..  The most painful aspect of this loss is that I feel like nobody will remember all the amazing parts of this EPIC Bruins playoff run.  So please, Bruins fans, help out and keep the legend going by passing on the story and the highlights.. such as:
* Winning Game 7 against the Maple Leafs even after being down by 3 goals with 10 minutes in regulation and by 2 goals with a minute and a half.
* Destroying the Rangers and the “best” goalie in Henrik Lundqvist in 5 games.
* SWEEPING the most powerful offense in the league in the Penguins.  Also, Jarome Iginla was supposed to come here, but went to the Penguins instead.. so we got Jaromir Jagr who didn’t score any goals, but did make lots of good plays and had 10 assists.
* Tuukka Rask having a great run, including 3 shutouts and allowing only 2 goals in 4 games to the “powerhouse” Penguins.
* Our first line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton had the best production and statistics of any line in the playoffs.  Krejci himself led the playoffs in points with 26, while Lucic and Horton are tied for second with 19.  Horton led the playoffs in +/- rating with a +20.  Krejci was in second with +13 and Lucic was third with +12.  Krejci was tied for second in goals with nine.  Lucic and Horton were tied for third with seven.
* Gregory Campbell breaking his leg when blocking a shot, but staying on the ice to play defense for a full minute right afterwards.
* Patrice Bergeron having his usual MVP-worthy and Selke Trophy-worthy playoff run, but more importantly, playing in the Stanley Cup Final Game 6 even though he separated his shoulder in the previous game, had a broken rib, had torn cartilage, and had a punctured lung!  He is, and always has been, “Mr. Bruin.”  He also led the playoffs in faceoff win percentage with 61.5% and was tied for second in goals with nine (one behind the leader).
* Torey Krug having a great rookie playoff run and becoming the first defenseman ever to score 4 goals in his first 5 NHL playoff games (yeah, not even Bobby Orr did that)!!  Our other rookie defenseman who was called up, Matt Bartkowski, had some great games and production too, and it’s possible he’ll stay with Boston rather than going back to the minor league team in Providence.  Krug will likely stay with us too.
* The Boston Marathon Bombing on April 15th, 2013.  We really wanted a championship for the city and all the victims/friends/relatives of those tragic events, but we need to remember them regardless.  We must remain Boston Strong!  Also, while they didn’t do it for recognition, I’d like to point out that all of the Bruins players helped out and/or donated and/or made appearances with those affected by both this tragedy and the Newtown, CT shooting earlier in the season.  The Bruins organization itself did a lot of philanthropic work too.
* Marathon Bombing victim Jeff Bauman was the honorary flag captain before Game 6.  Having lost his legs in the Marathon tragedy, he came in on a wheelchair.. but then.. he stood up on his prosthetic legs to wave the “Boston Strong” flag.  The crowd went crazy.
* So much more.  I was really looking forward to buying the documentary that would come out about this Stanley Cup win, mainly because of the story leading up to it.  Now we won’t get to see it.. but if someone makes one, even if it’s just a bunch of YouTube clips put together, let me know and I’ll promote the hell out of it.

Thanks

* Thanks to the Bruins for an AMAZING season and Stanley Cup run.
* Thanks to all the fans, who really supported and rallied behind the team.  I love seeing true and devoted fans.
* Thanks to my girlfriend, who willingly got stabbed in the face by my playoff beard every time we kissed for the past few months.. and to all the other ladies who did the same.
* Thanks to Rene Rancourt for singing the National Anthem like nobody’s business at Bruins games.  His four post-Anthem fist pumps should’ve gotten us the win in Game 6..  It will next time, so keep it up Rancourt!
* Thanks to all of our readers, for following our blog and sticking with us.

So Bruins fans, as you try to deal with this loss, remember how great of a run this was.  Also know that not all is lost..  A lot of these Bruins players will be here next year, and in the next several years, and you should feel confident that we will be able to win another Stanley Cup in the near future.  For now, take your mind off of it and turn to something else.  For instance, we have the Red Sox, who are in first place and killing it!  Big Papi even stole a base, as slow as he is!  Whaaaat?  Yeah!  For die-hard, passionate Bruins/hockey fans like me, though, baseball doesn’t compare at all.  We love hockey, especially the playoffs, so Bruins or not, we’ll be struggling to find something to fill the void during the NHL offseason.  At least the Red Sox can fill the need to see a Boston team doing well.  Still, the next Bruins game and another chance for glory can’t come soon enough.

Thanks for reading,
Matt

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About bost0nfire

Here in Boston, our pro sports teams won seven championships in a decade, with all teams accounted for. That means the Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox, and yes the New England Patriots.. they did play in Boston at one time after all.. and they're still our team. So, I declare Boston to be the City of Champions. ... Check us out on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/b0stonwins?ref=hl ... Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/BostonWins_Blog ... **** READER DISCRETION ADVISED: Adult Language may be used.
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One Response to EPIC Bruins Playoff Run Comes to a Sad End

  1. bost0nfire says:

    Here’s an article that talks about how we shouldn’t be mad at this loss.. it helps.. a little..
    http://www.stanleycupofchowder.com/2013/6/25/4461932/boston-bruins-stanley-cup-finals-year-didnt-suck-entirely-2013

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