“We make it tough on ourselves. We’ve always had trouble with that killer instinct.” – Claude Julien, Bruins head coach.
“They’re going to break the $#@*&^% window.” – Tony Amonte, Comcast SportsNet.
Let’s face it, Mr. Amonte may have been under different circumstances, attempting to deliver postgame reaction as hundreds of elated Bruins fans pounded on the Causeway Street studio glass behind him, but he wasn’t the only one to let the expletives fly during an evening that summoned a range of emotions.
Anticipation. Optimism. Frustration. Anger. Confusion. Hope. Jubilation. Shock. Beer.
The Boston Bruins are inexplicably moving on to face the New York Rangers after Monday night’s ridiculous comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, a 5-4 overtime win that will go down among the greatest games in Boston history, and serve as the ultimate reminder of just how damned heart-stopping and frustrating this crew can be.
Why? Why must it always come to this? Under Claude Julien, the Bruins have defined themselves as the ultimate do-or-die situational franchise. They play careful. They play cute. They play with a sense of purpose that frustrates the opposition, not to mention a fan base that has its share of potential scapegoats to blame when things ultimately end in heartache.
Then, when it matters most, these Bruins, they deliver.
The Bruins had scored three goals over their last eight periods against the Leafs before their trio in 10 minutes Monday night, tying the game at four, and putting the stake into the hearts of Toronto fans, only to twist it into the wound when Patrice Bergeron scored the game-winner at 6:05 into overtime. The resurgence came out of nowhere, particularly for a Bruins team that had, at one point during the evening, fewer shots than the drink menu at teddy bear tea time. Unless the smelling salt delivery truck simply can not arrive prior to 9 p.m., why can’t urgency show its face to some degree at some point before 9:18 into the third period?
Much like the Celtics’ valiant comeback against the Knicks in Game 6 a little over a week ago, the Bruins’ effort in Game 7 indeed displayed the determination and grit that makes a champion, never counting themselves out despite the hurdle in front of them. Unlike the Celtics, the Bruins completed the task. We’re only left wondering what might have been had the Celtics actually showed to be any semblance of a professional basketball team for three quarters.
The Bruins save their best for Game 7. They save it for the third period, and for 19:09 into the final stanza. They are all heart and a heart attack waiting to happen.
“It was a fun ending,” Bergeron said.
It certainly was, and it was the latest display of just how good this team can be when it decides to wake up. For much of the night, Tuukka Rask was pedestrian, but when it mattered most, the goalie was huge. Bergeron, roasted during an afternoon sports talk drive show Monday for not being able to score, emerges from his underperforming linemates to score the equalizer and the game-winner. Claude doesn’t have to call his local realtor.
Over the span of 10 game minutes, the Bruins went from potentially cleaning house to cleaning their skates for another round. Julien and Peter Chiarelli are safe, it is the Maple Leafs asking all the questions today, and the thought of Toronto revisiting trade talks with Vancouver for Roberto Luongo is salivating. Ten minutes changed the courses of two franchises, one in the peak prime of its roster members, the other, a young collection on the rise. That doesn’t make the collapse any more comforting for Leafs fans. Red Sox fans know all too well.
In Boston, perhaps we should treat Monday’s win a little like Lou Brown’s message to Willie Mays Hayes in “Major League,” after the young outfielder made a basket catch: “Nice catch, Hayes. Don’t ever $#@*&^% do it again.”
It was a fun ending. Getting there though required all sorts of stamina, desire, and faith. It’s never easy with the Bruins, we know that by now. But at least they show us that they can finish the job, and not simply inflict too little, too late.
Just enough, always late. But you know, a lead isn’t a bad thing to play with, fellas.
“It feels real good right now [but] when you’re looking at the clock wind down with how the period went at 4-1, you start thinking to yourself ‘is this the end of this group right here?’” Milan Lucic said. “Because it probably would have been if we didn’t win this game. You gotta have bounces, you gotta have luck, you gotta have everything go your way and that’s what happened in the last 10 minutes of the third period.”
That’s what happened, all right. Holy $#*&.