The Bruins lost the Stanley Cup Final series to the Chicago Blackhawks, falling 3-2 in Game 6. Here are five takeaways from the final game.
1. 17 seconds of infamy -- Coming off what would have been the team's most memorable penalty kill of the Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins found themselves up 2-1 with little more than three minutes left in the game. Game 7 was all but a certainty. All the Bruins needed to do was hold a furious and desperate Blackhawks team in the waning moments and the Black and Gold would be on its way back to Chicago for a chance at the Cup.
There was hope.
But the threads of those dreams started to come apart quickly. First, the Blackhawks went empty net on the Bruins with a little more than 1:20 left in the game. With the extra attacker, and some inspired jostling for the puck by Duncan Keith in the Bruins' zone, the Blackhawks were able to get some easy traffic in front of Tuukka Rask.
Keith freed up the puck and passed it along to Jonathan Toews. Toews had an abnormally unrestricted opportunity to create because of the strength of numbers, skating right up to the crease before dishing off to Bryan Bickell for the game-tying goal with 1:16 to go.
But that wasn't the gut punch.
Only 17 seconds later, the Blackhawks' Dave Bolland slipped behind Johnny Boychuk to claim a rebound off a Johnny Oduya shot from the blue line and stun the Bruins with 58 seconds left. The Blackhawks were helped by a deflection from Michael Frolik, who had taken the attention of Boychuk and Andrew Ference because he was sitting in their sight line from Oduya to Rask. The turnaround, in such a short time span, was devastating.
"You think you have things under control," Rask said. "We killed a big penalty there. We were thinking ‘oh, we’re just going to keep it tight and score maybe an empty-netter.’ And then, all of the sudden, they score a goal. You have to go out there again and keep playing. Many times it goes like that before a goal, lose the momentum, and that’s what happened. They got another shot, a deflection, a rebound, and a goal."
As quick as a flash, these are the moments that will burden the minds of each player forever. This will not be an easy summer.
2. Patrice Bergeron defined what this team meant -- Patrice Bergeron showed what it meant to be tough to the very end. After sitting out of morning skate, and missing the majority of Game 5 with what then was an undisclosed injury, we learned afterward that he played Game 6 with a broken rib, torn cartilage, and a separated shoulder. His very presence on the ice is the stuff tantamount to legend. And he played no bit part.
He had 24 shifts and 17:45 worth of ice time. He was out there hitting and skating hard. He won 5 of 11 face-offs. And he wasn't the only one playing at less than 100 percent.
Zdeno Chara, who had been the focus of criticism these past few games, was also playing hurt, according to coach Claude Julien.
Had Boston buttoned up its defense in the final 90 seconds, we probably wouldn't know the sacrifices Bergeron and Chara were making. For Bergeron, he went above and beyond the call in order to help his team while they were down. There's no shortage of respect for that type of performance.
Surely no one will equate his toughness with that of teammate Gregory Campbell's, who stayed on the ice for 50 seconds with a broken leg, but it remains on the pantheon.
"I think even when he was getting dressed in the locker room before the game, you could feel the boys' spirits lifted," Tyler Seguin said afterward. "The year we won, he was doing the same thing; fighting through everything. Obviously guys have bumps and bruises, but he's a guy that you obviously say is the heart and soul of our team. He wears that 'B' with a lot of pride."
3. First period domination -- It's so hard to recall that through the first 20 minutes of Monday's game, the Bruins were the superior hockey club.
And they were the better team by a wide margin.
The Bruins out shot the Blackhawks 32 to 8 (12 to 6 shots on goal), teasing Bruins fans with their offensive opportunities and missed chances. Tyler Seguin's beautiful feed to Chris Kelly, putting the Bruins up 1-0 halfway through the period, feels like a distant memory given the outcome of the night.
But it won't be much harder to recall the missed chances more clearly in the days ahead. David Krejci missed an open-netter off a pass from Brad Marchand and the team went 0 for 2 on the power play, continuing a trend of futility on special teams.
"Well we did have a great start," Dennis Seidenberg said. "We stopped playing that way we did at first, we started to turn pucks over on the blue line and that’s when they started playing and got their speed again. We kind of picked it up again in the third, and we scored, but the rest—you saw what happened."
4. Is this loss familiar? -- Tuukka Rask said an interesting thing, that Monday's 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks in Game 6 reminded him of the Bruins' 5-4 OT win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7.
If you recall, it was a miracle comeback game for the Bruins, with Patrice Bergeron scoring two goals 82 seconds apart -- one in the third period and the game-winner in overtime. The Bruins needed four goals to come back and win that game.
"I guess we get a taste of our own medicine here," Rask said. "It sucks."
5. Pride in Boston -- There was an immense pride from the Bruins in representing Boston, especially after the Marathon bombing on April 15. The team discussed the aftermath extensively among themselves and resolved to do something special for the city by playing as tough and gritty as possible. And it showed.
The Stanley Cup Final run still exemplifies that.
"You know, at the end of the day, I think that's what hurts the most is in the back of our minds, although we needed to focus on our team and doing what was going to be the best thing for our team to win a Stanley Cup, in the back of our minds we wanted to do it for those kind of reasons, the City of Boston, what Newtown has been through, that kind of stuff," said Bruins coach Claude Julien. "It hit close to home, and the best way we felt we could try and cheer the area was to win a Stanley Cup. I think that's what's hard right now for the players. We had more reasons than just ourselves to win a Cup."
I don't think Julien or the Bruins has anything to be ashamed of with their performance. This team had a fantastic run and an incredible season after the lockout. Bruins fans should be proud.