Here in Boston today, the sun is shining. Puffy clouds are floating through the blue sky. Everybody in town, it seems, is enjoying the weather on the banks of the Charles River. But for the Bruins, today is anything but beautiful.
The Bruins will spend today, tomorrow, and Monday trying to recover from their historic choke. They will gather at TD Garden on Tuesday for one last time for exit interviews and medicals before fanning out across the globe.
They’ll have their entire lives to consider what went wrong against the Flyers and why they are now perennial punchlines. In tomorrow’s Globe, we’ll look ahead at some of the action plans of the offseason. But here, we’ll take another peek at some of the atrocities of Round 2:
1. The series was lost well before the Bruins were caught with too many men on the ice at 11:10 of last night’s third period. Much of the blame will fall upon Marc Savard for not completing his change before Vladimir Sobotka took his spot. But there were three-plus games worth of opportunities for the Bruins to have punted the Flyers out of the playoffs.
2. Aside from his overtime winner in Game 1, it was a forgettable series for Savard (1-2–3 in seven games). He was at the center of the too-many-men blunder. He took a lazy hooking penalty in last night’s second period, and although the Bruins killed off the infraction, Danny Briere scored 38 seconds later. In Game 6, Savard high-sticked Kimmo Timonen, a penalty that was followed by Daniel Paille’s elbowing, which ultimately led to Briere’s four-on-three game-winning goal. His backchecking throughout the series was indifferent at best. All those shortcomings point to one major explanation: Savard never had enough time to recapture his game, and for good reason. It took Patrice Bergeron more than a year to get back to where he was before the Grade 3 concussion. Savard was back on the ice in less than two months. Too much was expected.
3. James van Riemsdyk’s first-period goal last night broke Mark Stuart’s stick, changed speed, and beat Tuukka Rask. Briere scored his game-tying strike from behind the goal line, banking it in off Matt Hunwick. There were stretches in Games 5 and 6 when the Flyers could have stretched their leads to fat cushions if not for some game-saving Rask stops. But to these eyes, it looked like Rask ran out of gas. Can’t blame him for the loss. But maybe the Rask from earlier this season stops one or two of those goals last night. Rask was the biggest reason why the Bruins qualified for the playoffs. But the Bruins needed so much from the rookie that he didn’t have enough juice left at the end.
4. There can’t be many players feeling worse than Zdeno Chara. In Game 3, Chara’s feed off the wall to David Krejci leads him into a season-ending Mike Richards blast. In Game 4, Chara’s backhand pass to nobody lands on Matt Carle’s stick, and the Flyers go the other way for Simon Gagne’s OT winner. Chara was good in this series. But the Bruins needed him to be great.
5. Miroslav Satan had five goals and five assists, tying him with Mark Recchi for the third-most playoff points on the team. Last night, Satan’s net-front presence on the power play drew Braydon Coburn, which opened up a passing lane for Dennis Wideman to spot Milan Lucic backdoor. On Lucic’s second goal, Satan drove to the net and brought Blair Betts with him. As a result, Lucic had a clear shot to go five-hole on Michael Leighton. But Satan’s defensive game fell short. Defense, after all, has never been his priority.
6. There were too many Philly heroes for the Bruins to shut down. Richards grabbed the series with both hands and imposed his will upon the Bruins. Gagne returned in Game 4 to score the OT winner, then netted the deciding power-play goal last night. Briere created offense on just about every shift. Scott Hartnell finally emerged as a dominant power forward late in the series. Philly’s top four of Carle, Chris Pronger, Kimmo Timonen, and Braydon Coburn outplayed their counterparts. The Flyers deserved to win the series.
7. The Bruins mailed in Game 5. Zero resistance. Only occasional puck battles won. It could have been an 8-0 result. Unexplainable to submit such an egg in the playoffs.
8. Sure would have been interesting to see what would have happened had Krejci remained healthy. Krejci impacted too many facets of the game (even strength, PP, PK, faceoffs, D-zone coverage) for the Bruins to survive his loss.
9. Still unclear why Blake Wheeler (zero points, one shot, 13:22 of ice time last night) got the call to ride with Bergeron and Recchi. Perhaps if Michael Ryder had been on the No. 1 line instead, the threesome would have gotten more even-strength offensive looks.
10. When you’re lacking in character, you give up 3-0 series leads and 3-0 Game 7 advantages.