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The Highs and Lows of Hockey: A Boston Bruins Eulogy

June 25,2013

Bye-Bye Bruins: A sad end to what began as a storybook playoff run

The Stanley Cup Finals ended in what can only be described as excruciating fashion for fans of the Boston Bruins last night…and you can just hear hockey fans in Toronto saying “Now you know how it feels.”

The mood at TD Garden was jubilant when Milan Lucic put the Bruins up 2-1 with less than 7 minutes to go in the 3rd period, and after the Bruins killed off a Chicago power play a few minutes later, it sure looked like there would be a deciding game 7 back in the Windy City Wednesday night. But the Blackhawks had other ideas. And those ideas turned into nightmares for the Boston faithful when the Hawks pulled goalie Corey Crawford, and with just 1 minute 16 seconds left on the clock, Brian Bickell took a goal-mouth feed from Jonathan Toews to tie the game at 2. For Bruins fans, that was bad. What happened just 17 seconds later was worse.

Perhaps already thinking ahead to what appeared to be overtime to decide this one, the Hawks dumped the puck in wide of Tuukka Rask and a lively bounce came off the boards, striking the post and deflecting almost directly to the stick of the Hawks’ Dave Bolland, who stuffed in the game winner with just 58 seconds left…and just like that, the Bruins’ hopes of a second Stanley Cup in the last 3 years were dashed.

This, of course, felt very much like the improbable victory the Bruins scored over the Toronto Maple Leafs back in Game 7 of the first round of these playoffs, when the Bruins overcame a 3-goal deficit with less than ten minutes to go in the 3rd , and scored the tying goals with less than two minutes to go, completing the frenzied comeback in overtime, so there’s no doubt some schadenfreude for Toronto fans this morning.

For Bruins fans…well, this one completes the trifecta of what I’ll call the “Unholy Trinity of Bruins Most Heartbreaking Losses Ever”…and I’ll leave it up to you where it ranks compared with numbers 1 and 2 on my list: Too Many Men on the Ice in the semi-finals vs. Montreal in 1979…and blowing a 3-games to none lead and a 3 goals to none lead in Game 7 of the semi-finals to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010.

But for Blackhawks fans, it’s all good. They win their 2nd Stanley Cup in the past 4 seasons, and Patrick Kane was named the series MVP. And former UVM stand-out Patrick Sharp gets another etching of his name on the greatest trophy in sports.

And this was a spectacular Stanley Cup Finals--if you’re not a Bruins fan--and perhaps even if you are, if you can look past the hurt…3 of the 6 games were decided in overtime, and just two were decided by more than a one-goal margin, one of those 2-goal wins coming on an empty-net goal. In all, it was brilliant hockey in an amazing sport that can be, sadly for the passions of many, quite cruel as well.

-Mitch Wertlieb

Misery loves company! If you’d like to add your thoughts on where this Bruins loss ranks in the annals of infamy (or how it compares on the misery-meter to other sad losses in any sport), I welcome your comments.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
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