Congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks for winning the Stanley Cup last night in Boston.
The Blackhawks stunned all of Boston and Bruins fans everywhere with two goals in 17 seconds in the dying moments of Game 6 to clinch the Stanley Cup.
This was one of the most fiercely-contested Finals in recent history between two pretty evenly-matched teams. From start to finish, it was a great display of hockey. The series had everything and any fan of the sport should be proud of the show the Bruins and Blackhawks put on.
It should only seem fitting that the Cup be awarded in the roughest game of the series. Players from both teams ended up needing medical attention of varying degrees as the game wore on.
Who knows what would have happened if the Bruins would have been able to hold on for another 1:16.
If you missed the game, that’s how close Boston was to forcing a Game 7 in Chicago.
But, a funny thing happened. Karma showed up and did not take any prisoners.
Before you roll your eyes, let me preface this with a few words.
The following is not meant to “troll” the Bruins or their fans. It wasn’t that long ago that the Penguins lost the Stanley Cup on home ice and we know how gut-wrenching that feeling is. This is only meant to continue the “all in fun banter” I’ve been putting up with for over 20 years. (Wow, I feel really old right now.)
However, you have to understand a few things about why I was cheering for Chicago in this series.
I am from New England, but have always been a Penguins fan. As a result, I’ve been the recipient of good-natured ribbing from family and friends for years.
During my time attending Penguins/Bruins games at the TD Garden, I’ve had beer cups thrown at me while wearing a Jaromir Jagr jersey (I was roughly 13 years old), had a Marine drill sergeant yell in my ear about how terrible of a player Mario Lemieux was (No, that’s not a direct quote. I can’t print what was actually said. Thankfully, the ringing in my ears has finally stopped and I have regained full hearing capabilities.), among other things.
So, you can only imagine what life was like in the immediate aftermath of the Penguins-Bruins Eastern Conference Finals series.
In fact, you don’t have to imagine it. Here’s just one example, which basically sums up what life is like being a Penguins fan from New England.
Yes. That is a sympathy card signed by six friends back home. I’ve gone ahead and blurred out their names. It arrived in the mail hours before the puck was dropped on Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. It didn’t stop there though. These fine individuals even used my parents’ mailing address to ensure that I would open the card.
Bravo boys and girls. Bravo. You got me, except now I get to have a little fun at your expense.
You should feel fortunate that you got to see an extra three rounds of hockey, considering the Bruins defied the odds and avoided elimination in the first round.
Game 7, on home ice, with a chance to move onto the second round. An upstart Toronto Maple Leafs team had scratched and clawed their way back from a 3-1 deficit to force a deciding Game 7. Furthermore, they held a 4-1 lead in the third period.
The Bruins’ ship was taking on water at an alarming rate. Inevitability was sinking in. In fact, my timeline on Facebook featured a plethora of bandwagon jumpers.
“This is over.”
“I can’t believe we blew this.”
“I’m changing the channel. Can’t take this.”
Those are just some of the messages that were floating around after Nazem Kadri put Toronto up 4-1.
Then, of course one of the best comebacks/collapses happened and the fans came rushing back. Boston rallied to tie the game with goals by Nathan Horton (9:18), Milan Lucic (18:38) and Patrice Bergeron (19:09).
As the puck dropped for overtime, not even the most die-hard Leafs fans could have believed that their team could overcome what had just happened to pull out the win. Fortunately for them, Bergeron ended their misery just 6:05 into overtime.
“I love this team!”
“What a comeback! Moving on!”
The worst part about that comeback is that I was going to send text messages to some of the individuals who signed that sympathy card. It was short, sweet and dare I say the perfect amount of salt in the wound?
“Iginla says hi.”
So, thanks to the Bruins, I had to delete that and save it for a day that never came.
Boston hit their stride in the next round and dispatched the New York Rangers in five games. Once they got by Toronto, you had to know they would meet the Penguins in the Conference Finals.
It shaped up to be a war on paper. However, as we all know, it was anything but. Two things happened in that series, that when combined, resulted in an unfathomable sweep.
First, the Bruins played their system well. Second, the Penguins failed to adjust or even look like the team that ran away from the pack in the Eastern Conference standings to earn the No. 1 seed.
The whole series I received taunting messages and the like from friends and family back home. Silently, I sat back hoping the day would come where I could come out of hiding.
The mastermind of the sympathy card debacle reached out to me during the Finals (Conveniently when the Bruins were up 2-1 in the series) to ask if I had “received anything interesting in the mail.”
I declined comment, refusing to give him or the rest involved the satisfaction. Again, I just patiently sat back watching every second of the Finals hoping for the Blackhawks to save me from a summer of ridicule.
Flash forward to Monday night – Game 6 and the Stanley Cup was in the building. Boston jumps out to a 1-0 lead and thoughts of a Game 7 began to creep into everyone’s mind.
But, Jonathan Toews had other ideas and scored the equalizer on a 2-on-1 rush in the second period. After two periods of play, the score remained tied 1-1.
All I kept saying during intermission was, “Win a period, win the Cup, save my sanity.”
It was a spirited third period. Everything you would expect as one team fought to stay alive, while the other battled to reap the rewards of a demanding playoff run.
The teams exchanged chances until Lucic found himself all alone in front of Corey Crawford with the puck on his stick. Lucic’s shot banked off the post and Crawford and came to rest in the back of the net. TD Garden went nuts. The Bruins just had to hold on for another 8:49.
Boston was the better team for much of the game and probably deserved a better outcome in the game. However, Karma doesn’t care about any of that at all.
So, the minutes and seconds continued to tick away. Crawford made his way to the bench for the extra attacker as Chicago gained control in the Bruins’ zone. There was a scramble around the net and Brian Bickell was left alone on the edge of Tuukka Rask’s crease. Bickell made no mistake when Toews fed him a nifty pass.
TD Garden was mostly silent, except for the few Blackhawks fans who had secured tickets to the game.
Boston had come within 1:16 of a seventh game, but they weren’t dead yet. The prospect of overtime seemed all but certain right?
Wrong. So, very wrong.
A mere 17 seconds later, Michael Frolik’s deflection attempt rang off the post behind Rask. Dave Bolland outworked Johnny Boychuk and slammed home the Stanley Cup-clinching goal. How hard did Bolland work for that goal? He lost his stick and both gloves in the process. That, or he thought he just scored in overtime.
The Bruins were left just 59 seconds to try and get it back, but could barely even get the puck in the Blackhawks’ end.
Time ran out and Chicago had become Stanley Cup champions for the second time in four years. You couldn’t script a better finish to a hockey game if you tried.
Bruins fans were chanting “We want the Cup,” with a 2-1 lead. Well, Chicago apparently heard you and gave you what you so desired. Look on the bright side, you can say you got to see the Cup be handed out in person.
That being said, I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to the true fans of the Boston Bruins. You have nothing to hang your heads about. The Bruins played incredibly well after their first round scare against Toronto. They fought right up until the very end.
I mean, at least they didn’t get blown out in Game 6 like the Devils did last year. That’s gotta make you feel a little better right? (Really trying to help Bruins fans find a silver lining in all this.)
The sting of seeing the Stanley Cup being presented to the opponent on your home ice will eventually fade. It may take a couple of months, but I can assure you, it does fade with time.
Another thing to keep in mind is due to the lockout, the offseason is a couple of weeks shorter than usual. So, you’ll get to see your beloved Bruins again real soon.
Now, to the bandwagon fans (some of which signed that card above), while I appreciate that you are taking an interest in hockey, I do hope you’ll actually pay attention during the regular season next year.
Playoff hockey is great, but so is the ride of the regular season.
There’s going to be an 82-game regular season next year. Maybe take the time to sit down and watch more than six of them.
Conversely, the lockout hurts you more than the die-hard fans and no, I’m not talking about how the lockout put a strain on relations with the casual fans…again.
I’m talking about how you have less time to recover from the broken/twisted/sprained ankles you suffered when the bandwagon came to a crashing halt last night.
In any event, rest up because the new season is only a couple of months away and try to enjoy the rest of your summer.
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