Karmic intervention, or just plain destiny?
In a building that six weeks ago tonight saw a miracle finish to save their playoff lives, the Boston Bruins paid it back in full with an epic defensive collapse in the final two minutes of game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, literally handing the Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks.
As astonishing as that game seven comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs was – the Bruins came from 4-1 down halfway through the third period - that’s how unbelievably stunning the Bruins’ collapse in Monday night’s 3-2 loss was.
Leading 2-1 with just 1:16 remaining in regulation and the Blackhawks’ with an extra skater, forward Bryan Bickell found twine to tie the game at 2-2 then, unbelievably, Dave Bolland knocked in a rebound off of a Michael Frolik blue line drive just 17 seconds later – and the crowd at TD Garden went from euphoric, to hopeful to…
…well, why go there? Boston sports fans have been through their share heart-breaking losses on the biggest of stages, many of them the last-minute variety, but this one had an air of inevitability to it, as if the entire game was a very intense prelude to fulfill a destiny, a caustic means to an implausible end.
One got the feeling about half way through the third period that it just wasn’t going to happen – and not for any other reason than the look on the faces of the Bruins, the camera panning across the expanse of the Boston bench - to a man, the look of almost caricatured fatigue…
…the expenditure of energy to reach that point only to be even with the lightning fast Blackhawks disheartening, pillars such as Bergeron and Jagr broken from both existing condition and rough handling – the Bruins were ripe for the kill, and the Blackhawks knew it.
Before the game, Boston Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara was told of the Chicago Blackhawks’ pregame propaganda that suggested that his team was “worn down and beaten”. Chara’s reply?
“We’ll find out.”
And find out we did, Chara’s response akin to invoking his fifth amendment rights.
Perhaps he knew? Because after Milan Lucic made the score 2-1 with just under eight minutes left in regulation,the effort seemed to wane - the Blackhawks getting fantastic point-blank scoring chances while it seemed the Bruins were standing still, lunging at pucks, hoping to hold on for dear life.
It worked six weeks ago in the quarterfinals, the playoffs still fresh and still novel – but not at the end of a grueling two month war that saw the Bruins’ best effort sandwiched between polarizing series, the blissful high of the quarterfinals and the abysmal low of watching the Blackhawks accept the Cup on the TD Center ice…
…the team that obliterated first the New York Rangers and then the Pittsburgh Penguins by beating on them physically until they submitted, done in by their own devices.
So once again Boston sports fans take a nasty shot in the gut, the carpet pulled out from underneath them just as their team was about to reach nirvana – stumbling into oblivion in such distressing fashion that many fans were glued to their seats in disbelief, taking in the pain that is all too familiar…
…yet with the grieving process just beginning, we know that we won’t watch any highlight shows for a week or so, then slowly ease ourselves back into the normalcy that comes with acceptance, this fall picking back up where we left off - the start of another season a soothing tonic for the bitter pill we just had to swallow.