"I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope ... I will feed ... people hope to poison their souls."
- Bane, "The Dark Knight Rises"
There's always hope.
Hope that the Bruins might bounce back next spring and reach the Stanley Cup Finals or even win their seventh title.
There's hope the Bruins might land restricted free-agent P.K. Subban in the offseason if the Canadiens are foolish enough to let him skate away.
There's hope that the Bruins will find a way to take better advantage of having the best record in the regular season and win Game 7 on their home ice.
There's hope that David Krejci will score a goal in the postseason in 2015.
There's hope that Brad Marchand might end his post-game scoreless streak at 20 next April.
There's hope than Milan Lucic could become as offensive and aggressive on offense with the puck as he seemingly has become with his mouth.
There's hope that the Bruins will find a way to take a lead in a playoff series, without having to bail out from behind each game.
There's hope that the next time Zdeno Chara deflects a puck into the net, it would bounce past someone not named "Rask."
Hope. Hope. Always hope.
The Bruins entered Game 7 with so much hope. They had home ice at the impregnable T.D. Garden. They were "due" after mailing it in in Game 6. They was hope, or an assumption, that they would naturally come out with the aggression and desperation that was lacking Monday night in Montreal. Despite holding just a 15-14 edge in blocked shots, it seemed Montreal players were diving and blocking shots every time the Bruins appeared poised to score.
The Bruins had escaped from the historic post-season hex the Canadiens held over them in 2011. But it was back, as potent as ever, in this series. The Bruins played to their lowest level, while the Canadiens seemed to dictate the pace and style early and remained focused and nearly flawless.
The reality of the Canadiens' defense, their quickness, their ability to take the Bruins off their game, their hunger for wanting to win this game. The Canadiens were younger and faster. Their goalie was better than Boston's goalie. Montreal "overextended" itself while the Bruins consistently fell short of what they had hoped to accomplished - namely winning another championship after coming so damn close last season.
The most notable failures in this series sit atop the Bruins' depth chart and pay scale. Rask, at $7 million, did not elevate his game when it mattered most Wednesday night. Chara, who at 37 may or may not be injured, at $6,916,667. He was consistently behind the play in Game 7, failed to deliver critical hits in the corner, and, in a fitting manner, watched helplessly as the final goal of the night tumbled off his leg and into Boston's goal. Krejci: $5.25 million. His evaporation in these seven games was breathtaking. Zero goals and two assists on 15 shots. Krejci still hasn't scored since Boston's regular-season finale on April 12. Leading the postseason in scoring in 2011 and 2013 will look nice on the back of his hockey card. It meant nothing Wednesday, no matter what anyone in black and gold would have hoped.
There was plenty of hate between these two teams, but only Canadiens were able to use it for motivation and an advantage.
The 2012 Bruins entered the playoffs with all the hopes of a defending Stanley Cup champion. They, too, lost Game 7 in Boston on a Wednesday night to another team that favors "le bleu, blanc et rouge." In that series, Braden Holtby held enough of an edge over Tim Thomas to help the Washington Capitals win four of the seven one-goal games played. That Game 7 ended in overtime and Joel Ward's overtime goal triggered an undetermined number of racist posts on Twitter. Deja vu or something like that.
There was something else notable about that Game 7 in 2012. Lucic played 19:50 without a shot on goal. He nearly duplicated that performance Wednesday with zero shots in 17:51 of ice time.
Think about that. Two Game 7s. Two losses at home. A healthy 37:40 of ice time and zero shots on goal. And he's set to make $6 million next season.
"Frustrating," he said. "We lost. We let our fans down when we had a great opportunity with a team like this. Like I said, it’s a tough one to swallow."
But Lucic was most angry at what was said by Montreal in the post-game handshake line. He reportedly told Dale Weise: "I'm going to [expletive] kill you next year."
Too bad he didn't feel that way about the puck. Glad to see Looch's priorities are in order. How about a vow to take a shot the next time he's playing a Game 7?
Before Game 6, Joe Namath Krejci spoke about how he planned to turn things around.
"I believe my time is about to come and I'm going to be big for my team," he said with confidence. "I owe it to these guys."
Krejci followed those words with five shots and one point in 41:13 of ice time.
But, hey, he hoped to do better.
As did the rest of the Bruins.
"It's not that it's anybody's fault," Rask said. "We just couldn't take the next step as a team" He is 100 percent correct. It was not "anybody's" fault, it was everybody's fault.
And the worst part about the season ending without a championship is that there's no more hockey. The games were agonizing to watch, but the rest was a blast. But now, no more hope for this spring anyway. Last year, the Bruins kept their partisans full of hope until mid-June, before letting the T.D. Garden crowd down with a jolt in Game 6 against the Blackhawks. But even that shock and awe-shucks was tempered with the hope of the 2013-14 season.
In this series, the Bruins didn't change much between Game 6 and Game 7, despite what so many had hoped. Boston went about six minutes without a shot on Carey Price Wednesday. While the Bruins were supposed to be the veteran team, they allowed their disjointed play to be dictated by nervousness, apprehension and, dare we say it, fear. Boston committed seven turnovers in the first period. Game 7? More like lame seven.
The decisive first goal came at the expense of Boston's very inexperienced fourth line, which had been the source of so much hope beforehand.
Et tu, Merlot line?
The Canadiens had hopes of winning this series, too. But unlike the Bruins, they did not seem to rely on these off-ice factors. They instead maintained the level of play established in Game 6. There was far too much hokum, hysteria, and hyperbole surrounding those off-ice issues. This series, for the Bruins and their fans, was a true crapfest in every conceivable definition of the word.
But all that mattered was the hockey.
Hope never made it on the ice.
3-1 Canadiens. Turns out that "3-1" was indeed the most dangerous lead in hockey. At least as far as the Bruins were concerned. Montreal is off to face New York in the conference finals. The Bruins are scheduling tee times.
But there's always hope for next year.
The OBF Blog is written by award-winning journalist, Bay State native and Boston.Com columnist Bill Speros. Got a news tip, want to let him know directly what you think, have a complaint or compliment about his "aggressively relevant" content or hate people who speak about themselves in the third person, hit him up on his Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or hit him on at his
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