The Boston Bruins came into this postseason hoping to shed the awful memories from last year. A chance to force Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks disappeared in the longest 17 seconds ever, and Boston was forced to watch the Stanley Cup get hoisted on their own ice. Determined to finish the job this time around, the Bruins rolled through the regular season, winning the President’s Trophy and becoming the trendy pick to win the Cup. The team looked primed and ready to add another championship to their resume.
And then they lost in the second round. To their rival. Their lower-seeded rival.
Make no mistake: this season for Boston was an absolute failure. It’s not even up for debate.
The Bruins can make up all the excuses they want as to why they’re booking tee-times and the Montreal Canadiens are advancing. Blame it on the posts that rung throughout the series. Blame it on the refs for calls you felt were unfair. Blame it on “puck luck.” Don’t be surprised if these things are said, verbatim, during locker room clear-out day.
The problem is there really is no excuse. There’s no excuse for Boston to have looked so flat in their two — TWO! — chances to eliminate Montreal. For being outscored 7-1 in Games 6 through 7. There’s no excuse for missing countless empty nets in every single game. And there’s definitely no excuse for how badly some of their better players were throughout the entire playoffs.
Brad Marchand will likely be spending the offseason trying to shoot pucks at the broad side of a barn, essentially the only thing he can even hit at this point. Years from now, some Bruins fans will tell tales of the ghost of David Krejci, who was only technically on the ice this postseason. How else can you explain his wonderful stat line of three points in 11 games?
But hey, we can’t focus on just the players choking here. How about a finger of blame point it’s way towards GM Peter Chiarelli?
As you may recall, it was Chiarelli who scoffed at the notion that the Canadiens’ team speed would be an issue for Boston. It certainly looked that way on every single Montreal breakaway goal, though. And he scoffed at the idea of Montreal winning the trade deadline by acquiring Thomas Vanek. All he did was score four goals this series, no big deal. Meanwhile, Corey Potter and Andrej Meszaros, Chiarelli’s prized trade deadline acquisitions, watched the majority of this postseason from the press box.
Keep scoffing, Peter.
There’s no getting around it; the Bruins had a single goal coming into the playoffs. It was championship or bust. This team was supposed to be a Cup contender, they were supposed to cakewalk through an inferior Eastern Conference.
But, in order to do that, you have to show up when it matters most. Maybe in Game 6, definitely Game 7. Just a thought. Most importantly, you have to want it more. Boston won’t have to search long to see a perfect example of what that looks like, as it was skating victory laps on their ice a few minutes ago.
Again, don’t be surprised if you hear the aforementioned excuses from the Bruins all offseason. You’ll hear about bad bounces, about wringing posts, about how in nine out of ten games, those pucks go in. Heck, you’ll most certainly hear at least one person try and make the President’s Trophy sound like a big deal.
So sure, talk about being the best regular season team. Shake off this embarrassment as an unlucky bounce of the puck. Claim you did everything you could, that fate just wasn’t on your side.
While you’re bringing up these useless footnotes to a postseason flop, four other teams are going to be playing for the only thing that counts. That Boston set out to win the Cup that eluded them last year was determination. That they couldn’t even make it to the conference finals was something else entirely.