The irony of writing an article about tonight’s game is that there are no words to describe it.
The Boston Bruins, they lead the series 3-1 over the Toronto Maple Leafs, fumbled twice over the weekend when given a chance to advance to the next round of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. Once again, sub-par play and a severe underestimation of their opponent resulted in Boston painting themselves into a corner.
Yet, with every betting man in the country penciling Toronto into the win column, the Bruins stunned the Leafs, the fans and heck, probably themselves, coming back from a 4-1 deficit to steal the series in overtime 5-4.
Again, no words. Here are a few observations.
First thing’s first, could Game 7 have started any worse for Boston?
You could tell the crowd was on edge from the start of the game. Who could blame them? They’d just seen their team take hold of the series and then play miserably uninspired hockey to hand it right back.
All day, fans were already burying this team. I was one of them, fully content with the idea that this team just wasn’t going to get it done. This article was supposed to be the eulogy.
An early goal from defenseman Matt Bartkowski, his first career playoff goal, eased the tension. Maybe the Bruins would pull this out after all.
But then Toronto scored. Then they scored again. And again. And again.
The Leafs’ fourth goal, though occurring in the third period, seemed to cap off a flurry that happened in the blink of an eye.
Like that, it was 4-1 Toronto. So long, 2013 season, we barely knew ye. The big, bad Bruins were just plain bad, and it was time to write out coach Claude Julien‘s walking papers.
For fans who left early, who switched the channel or who just plain went into a blinding white rage, if they only knew what would happen next.
Boston FINALLY shows why they’re a team to be reckoned with in one of the gutsiest victories you’ll ever see.
When winger Nathan Horton scored to cut the lead to 4-2, it was met with little fanfare, merely a small dent in the parade Toronto was about to throw.
Milan Lucic, scoring his second goal in as many nights, brought it to 4-3 with less than two minutes remaining. Still, while the idea of this miracle comeback seemed like a dream scenario, there was no way the Bruins, these Bruins, were going to pull it off. Thanks for the tease, see you next year.
Seconds after Lucic tied the game, Patrice Bergeron laced a snap shot through what seemed like the entire Toronto roster, but most importantly, past goalie James Reimer.
The TD Garden, which was a tomb just minutes before, erupted as the third period came to an end and overtime was on the horizon.
The Bruins were ecstatic. The Leafs were speechless.
Six minutes into overtime, Bergeron came through with the dagger in the hearts of every Toronto fan ready to see more playoff home games this year.
Just like that, when all hope was lost, when an offseason full of turmoil brought on by firings and roster moves seemed unavoidable, Boston showed a champion’s heart and sent fans home on cloud nine.
If there were ever a time to utilize momentum, it’s now.
Save all the talk about next series ’til tomorrow, celebrate this improbable victory that was snatched from the jaws of defeat.
All I will say about next round is this: the Bruins just looked at the end of their season in the eye. They were 50 seconds away from golfing. This needs to be treated, in some ways, like a life-changing experience.
Now, Boston knows they can’t just win games on paper. They know now that the sleepwalking, zombie hockey they hurled onto the ice all year will win them no games.
The New York Rangers present quite a challenge, especially with all-world goalie Henrik Lundqvidst between the pipes.
If there’s one thing the Bruins need to remember, it’s that, thanks to Bergeron, they’ve been given a second chance in these playoffs.
Written off no more, it’s time to turn this monumental night into a run.