Since 2008, the Boston Bruins are a less than stellar 4-5 in game 7’s (3-4 on home ice) in the Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, David Krejci era. Eliminate the cup run in 2011, just 1-5 (1-4 on home ice). That one game was a choke job by the same team they will host for their 10th game 7 this era on Wednesday night.
Those three guys are the three biggest constants on a Bruins team that has choked time and time again with the exception of that one Stanley Cup run. They are the guys with the letters on their jerseys. They are the guys who have been here. If the Bruins lose on Wednesday and choke away a 3-1 lead Bergeron, Chara, and Krejci’s legacies will take one huge smacking to the floor.
It sounds crazy, but takeaway some unreal moments in 2011, a crazy comeback in 2013, and we would be looking at the playoff choke masters.
In 2009 the 1-seeded Bruins lost a game 7 on home ice to 6-seeded Carolina Hurricanes in the second. In 2010 the Bruins blew a 3-0 lead to the Flyers. In 2012 they lost another home game 7 to the 7-seeded Washington Capitals. In the Cup Final in 2013 the Bruins allowed 2 goals in the final minute within 17 seconds on home ice to watch the Blackhawks carry the trophy around the TD Garden. In 2014, the President Trophy winning Bruins lost another game 7 on home ice in the second round to the 4-seeded Montreal Canadiens. In 2015 and 2016 the Bruins lost their last three games of the regular season and then went 3-8-1 down the stretch to blow playoff opportunities.
Let’s not forget in 2011 they trailed Montreal 2-0 after losing their first two games on home ice. It took 3 overtime goals, and some out of this world saves by Tim Thomas to escape that one.
In 2013 it took 3 goals and an OT goal to escape losing a 3-1 lead and a first round exit.
The Bruins veterans have no excuses. For a lot of those collapses, former coach Claude Julien, former GM Peter Chiarelli, and injuries took a large share of the blame. Claude’s gone, Chiarelli’s gone, and the Bruins are at full strength. The new coach proved himself during the season. The new GM has surrounded these guys with all the youthful talent ever needed. In these situations, it is all on the players and the guys on the ice.
Bergeron is surrounded by two elite goal scorers in Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. David Krejci is surrounded by the youth of Jake DeBrusk who has notched 3 goals this series. GM Don Sweeney even went out a got him a power forward to put next to him in Rick Nash. Chara is paired with the next franchise defenseman in Charlie McAvoy. The four other capable defensemen helped them to combine to rank fourth in goals against this season. The goalie did choke away game 5, but stole you game 4.
The Bruins had a chance to avoid playing the Maple Leafs as they did in 2013, but they choked that away too with a 1-3-1 end to the season. Even with the tough end of the season, all they had to do was win their final game of the season versus the eliminated Florida Panthers and they came out flat. Chance to knock off the Maple Leafs at home in game 5, came out flat.
Any Bruins fan has to be on pins and needles approaching game 7. For all the great moments this season, for all the youthful talent, for the great job Bruce Cassidy did, losing another home game 7 and a 3-1 series lead vanishes the progress. All of it. You have to go back to the drawing board.
Cassidy and Sweeney showed their worthy during the season. For Bergeron, Chara, and Krejci, legacies are on the line. Are they the one-hit wonders who won their one cup and choke every other time, or bona-fide winning veterans capable of bringing a 2nd cup to Boston this decade? I will have your answer on Wednesday night.
P.S.- I picked Boston in 7