When you’re a kid, summer seems to fly by, but for the Boston Bruins this one night in June may never end. After Milan Lucic put the B’s up one with seven minutes go, it seemed all the Bruins had to do was hold on. For whatever reason the Bruins played as slow as the plodding TD Garden Ice, as they surrendered two gut wrenching goals in the game’s final minute and twenty. As the Blackhawks deservedly hoisted the Stanley Cup on the Bruins home ice, it was hard not to avoid a feeling a sense of emptiness that comes from watching an implosion on the greatest of stages.
In the first five games of this series each team had scored thirteen goals (empty-netter aside), and game six looked like it would be no different. The conundrum facing the Bruins was that Blackhawks had simply been more adaptable.
In game four, with the Hawks facing elimination, Chicago was able to impose it’s up and down style of play that culminated in a game with a whopping eleven combined goals. In game five the Bruins wanted to have it their way, and that too, was just fine with Chicago.
In game five the Blackhawks mucked it up with the Bruins, and scraped by with a 3-1 victory, that was a lot closer than the score indicated. The Hawks won that game on the strength of what was thought to be their greatest weakness (Corey Crawford), and provided a counter-punch that the Bruins hadn’t seen since there series with the Maple Leafs.
That right hook was definitively stronger than anything Toronto had, but coming into game six there was a sense of optimism, as the Bruins sought to recall the ghosts of 2011. Yet, as the Bruins couldn’t capitalize on early chances (they dominated the first period and a quarter), Chicago began to find its legs.
Whether it was David Krejci just missing a back door pass, Zdeno Chara blasting the puck wide of the net from seven feet away, or Tyler Seguin clanking the post, the Bruins just couldn't seem to find a way to finish chances. With the score tied after two periods, a definable sense of dread slowly crept over anyone who has been able to grasp how good the Blackhawks have been.
The real trouble began when Chris Kelly took a pathetic slashing penalty late in the third period. True, the Blackhawks managed to bungle another powerplay, but the reality of the situation was that between the penalty kill, the Blackhawks late push, and the pulling of Corey Crawford, the B’s were essentially going to be at a disadvantage for five whole minutes.
If there was one thing that was crueler that giving up two goals in seventeen seconds, it was the way Boston managed to do it. Throughout this fantastical run, the Bruins had, for the most part, kicked themselves of their detestable regular season habit of allowing forwards to score unchecked on rebounds.
The painful irony was never more evident when both the Hawks goals were scored in that exact fashion that Boston had been so careful to avoid. Tuukka Rask stood no chance on either of the Chicago tallies, and while it may be easy to assign blame (Lucic on the second goal, Boychuk on the final one), it was a total failure on the entire defensive structure.
As much as fans may want to pat this team on the back for their effort against an opponent that was likely the best team in the NHL from start to finish, the grapes still taste very sour.
Coming off of a dominating game two that placed Boston in the driver seat up to the point to when the horn sounded last night, its hard to imagine a more nightmarish turn of events. It’s easy to forget that as great as this series was, the Bruins lost three straight games, each in their own uniquely agonizing fashion.
With injuries both known and unknown, the Bruins played these playoffs, and even the majority of this game with a mountain of heart that will never be forgotten. Credit to the Blackhawks for fighting for every minute, but you have to know that the Bruins will spend a lot of time looking back at this game and certain moments of this series and lament not seizing the opportunity to prevail.
Keanu Reeve’s immortal Shane Falco said that “pain heals and glory lasts forever.”
For the Bruins and the city of Boston this pain associated with this game isn’t going to heal anytime soon, and as Johnny Boychuck said after the game, the loss would stick with him “forever.”
Forever is a long time, but after watching the tears swell in Tyler Seguin’s eyes, it was painstakingly clear what this moment will always mean to those involved, even if it was only seventeen seconds.
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