Now it’s time to finish this unfinished business
In any other season, with any other team, this thing would be a lock. The series would be effectively over and we’d be talking about the conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cue up “Nut Rocker,’’ let your facial hair grow long, and get ready for the Duck Boats in June.
But we are not yet a year removed from the unthinkable. It’s the same team. The same round. The same three-game dominance by the Bruins. And so instead of celebrating and getting credit for their comeback against the Canadiens and their utter domination of the Flyers, the Bruins have to hear it for at least a couple more days.
Tomorrow night at the Garden, the Boston Bruins will be the first team in the history of sports to face a “must-win’’ situation with a 3-0 series lead. Sorry. But it’s true. The Bruins have beaten the Flyers, 7-3, 3-2, and 5-1. They have won in overtime at Philadelphia. They have made a statement. But before we make plans for the Lightning Round (Boston-Tampa is a time-honored rivalry, no?), the Bruins have to show us that they can finish the job. They have to close. And they have to do it tomorrow, or it will be another two days of insufferable reminders.
“We learned from last year, obviously,’’ said Boston’s Johnny Boychuk. “The hardest game to win is the fourth game. But that was last year.’’
The Bruins thrashed the Flyers at the Garden last night. They put it away in the first 63 seconds with a pair of goals against beleaguered Flyers goalie Brian Boucher.
So Lucy is holding the football again. The Patriots are 18-0, gearing up for a Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz. Again.
Blame it all on the Red Sox if you want. Before the 2004 Sox came back from 0-3 against the Yankees, no one ever took this notion seriously. A 3-0 lead meant it was all over.
But now every team has hope. And the Flyers have more hope than anyone. They are one of only four teams in the history of North American professional sports to recover from an 0-3 deficit. They did it against the Bruins last year. And if the Bruins don’t get it done at the Garden tomorrow night, we’ll have Flyers captain Mike Richards passing the Jack Daniel’s and saying, “We’ve got Pedro and Schilling and anything can happen in Game 7.’’
Zdeno Chara set the tone last night with a 100-mile-per-hour bomb 30 seconds into the game. Thirty-three seconds later, just as public address man Jim Martin was saying, “Boston goal . . .’’, David Krejci flipped the puck past Boucher after taking a nifty pass from Milan Lucic.
Shocking. Flyers coach Peter Laviolette (the man who was passed over here in favor of Robbie Ftorek) called time out and talked to his embarrassed goalie. Laviolette had to be feeling a little silly. He’s been having some fun with the notion that all the pressure is on the Bruins because of what happened last year.
Then again, maybe this is a diabolical plan put in motion by the Flyers and their coach. You know, lull the Bruins into a false sense of security by letting them take a 3-0 series lead for the second straight season. It’s actually pretty clever. Can’t you just hear the Philadelphia talk-show callers saying, “We’ve got the Bruins right where we want them’’?
“We’ve got to make sure we’re ready Friday,’’ said Dennis Seidenberg. “We can’t get too high. Philly is not going to quit. They’re a great team.’’
If you can get past the obvious nonsense for a moment, this is a pretty exciting time for the region’s long-suffering hockey fans. The Bruins came back from an 0-2 deficit against the Canadiens, something they’ve never done in more than eight decades of playoff hockey. They won a Game 7 for the first time since 1994, beating Montreal in overtime.
Now they are one win away from their first trip to the conference finals in 19 years. We probably don’t have to remind you that they haven’t won a Stanley Cup since Robert Gordon Orr and Friends got it done in 1972. If you’re scoring at home, that was during the Nixon Administration.
Daniel Paille made it 3-0 in the 14th minute of the second with a wrist shot on a three-on-two break. It was party time at the New Barn after that. Nathan Horton scored (five-hole) with 4:46 left in the second, and that was the end of the night for Boucher. Sergei Bobrovsky came on in relief.
While delirious Boston fans were chanting, “We want Boucher,’’ Andrej Meszaros scored for the Flyers.
It was crusty John McNamara who famously said, “I don’t want to hear about history or choking or any of that crap.’’ That was when his team had its insurmountable lead in the 1986 World Series. Before all the bad history was made.
The mission is obvious now. The Bruins need to sweep the Flyers. Crush them like Grapes in Game 4. Tomorrow night. Stop the madness and advance to the conference finals.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.