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Blackhawks Pull Out Late Daggers, Kill Bruins Season To Win Cup In Stunning Fashion

ztoews

                                  “Sorry I tried to maim you.” “Me too.”

Game Four. That’s when the Bruins gave this series away. They had a home game, Captain Hook in the opposing net for one night only, and a chance put a constrictor’s grip on their second Cup in three years. But they simply didn’t get the job done. All I could hear in my head after the game was Virgil “The Turk” Sollozzo: “They hit him with five shots, and he’s still alive!”. They failed to snag the 3-1 lead and the series was never the same for them. I figured Game Four would be their nightmare fuel.

Last night at the Garden, just when it appeared this beaten and valiant Bruins squad would somehow drag this incredible series to a Game 7 that everyone except Oprahland wanted, the Blackhawks played the role of Michael Corleone and delivered two successive kill shots that suddenly turned 15,000 Bruins fans into stunned waiters. Instead, it will be this anti-Snow Bowl that will haunt these Bruins’ sleep habits until their dying days.

After Milan Lucic put the Bs up 2-1 with 7:49 left, they just needed to play it safe, chip it out, and maybe seal it with an empty-netter. For about six-and-a-half minutes, they stuck to the plan. And then? Disaster struck so much so that the Bruins had to pull Tuukka Rask for an extra attacker less than two minutes AFTER Chicago had already pulled Corey Crawford for an extra attacker. U-G-L-Y.

With the extra man, the Hawks were again able to gain the zone leading to a puck battle in the left corner. Jonathan Toews, who had a game for the ages, lifted David Krecji’s stick which allowed Pat Kane to grab the puck. Kane fed Duncan Keith at the point who then quickly passed to Toews by the goal line. The Hawks captain sent a laser pass to Brian Bickell, who snuck away from Milan Lucic, and buried the equalizer. Fuck. Another overtime.

Not quite. Just 17 goddamn seconds later, Chicago went ahead on, what else?, another fling towards the net. Michael Frolik deftly tipped a Johnny Oduya shot that rang off the post and shot right back out. Just as Rask tried to corral the rebound with his paddle, Dave Bolland slipped behind Johnny Boychuk to slam the eventual Cup-winner home (he took his gloves off? Big fucking deal—he just scored the biggest goal he’ll ever score).

Just a stunning turn of events that Causeway St. hasn’t seen in, shit, six weeks. One minute, I’m thinking of whose cage I’m gonna rattle for a crash pad in Chicago tomorrow night. Then next, I’m making plans so that Pat the Barber can take down my WANTED poster and get this ‘70s porn bush off of my face. Hockey, man.

A few more buds for your brokenhearted bowl…

*Four one-goal games and two two-goal games, one of which had an ENG. Over seven regulation games played in total. 17 goals for one team, 15 for the other. This was about the most evenly-matched series you could draw up and the series pretty much stuck to the script. But once the Blackhawks got going in Game Four, they were essentially off to the races. From then on, it appeared as though they always had a step on the Bs and managed to effectively shut down Boston’s big guns. The Bruins scored just three goals in the last two games and had a dearth of high-quality scoring chances compared to earlier in the series.

*The Bs played their hearts out and went balls out. But that still couldn’t prevent the same old shit to consistently pop up in the Cup. Squandered PPs (the Bruins had three chances to take a 2-0 lead last night and failed each time). Blown late leads (last night and Game One). Catnapping in their own zone and not picking guys up. Guys who are paid a lot of money to score not scoring. Passing up more shots than Bill W. No bodies/traffic out front. It was like all the chickens came home to roost last night. And they still nearly forced a Game Seven.

*Chicago’s top two defenseman, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, came as advertised. They have better speed and offensive touch than the Bruins top two D-men (who each made some uncharacteristic pinches during the series). They also play with some snarl and they’re two players any team would make room for. Their transition game and stretch passes were a big reason the Hawks speed ended up killing the Bruins. That and getting behind the D and hanging out more to the side of the crease than in front. Their hands and bang-bang plays in close also killed the Bs.

*Toews and Kane. Superstars, man. They played like it. Tough to beat them when your best aren’t playing their best.

*Patrice fucking Bergeron, man. What more can you say. Went into last night with a broken rib and torn cartilage then suffered a separated shoulder during the game. And he was still banging around out there. Just heart and balls galore. He’s everything a hockey player should be. I’m glad the rest of the league has finally gotten around to recognizing what we’ve known since Day One. The kid is special.

*Teams do make their own luck and bounces this time of year. It seemed like every time the Hawks had a big chance, they cashed in. Whereas the Bs could never seem to settle a wobbly puck or take advantage of a bounce and there was an awful lot of “Oh! Ohh! Ohhh!…Shiiiiiiiitttt!!!” moments. But when they keep happening, you start to get the sense that this isn’t the year. Before the third period and with the score tied, I stole Han Solo’s line and remarked to a buddy that I had a bad feeling about this. Within an hour, Bruins fandom was frozen in carbonite.

*Rask had an outstanding playoffs and was the Conn Smythe favorite less than a week ago. He no doubt earned a bump in pay when he signs his new deal soon. He kept the Bs in games in each round and was their most consistent player. Even in the game he gave up six goals, he was far from awful. He did his job and he did very well (though I bet he wants that first goal back from last night). His .940 save percentage led all goalies in the playoffs as did his three shutouts (along with Jonathan Quick). I’ll eat crow on Crawford now.

*Nathan Horton was playing with a tear in his rotator cuff as well as a separated shoulder, two painful things to cook with let alone play hockey. And, given his lack of slap shots throughout the playoffs and his -5 for the Final, I’m guessing Chara has an ailment or three.

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*I don’t think you can blame Claude for a thing though I know it’s coming (hey Felgie!). He had a roster full of guys on the team that won a Cup two years ago—if they weren’t up for games, that’s a reflection on them not the coach. They should need a coach to get them in the right mindset. Not to mention, I’m not sure what kind of adjustments would’ve offset Chicago’s speed, transition, and skill. These two teams just went at it and Chicago had a little bit more. Perhaps it’s time we started appreciating Claude around here a little more. But he doesn’t play footsies and kissy-face with the media so it’s just easier to goof on him. But he’s really grown on the job and become a great representative for the team with his demeanor and way he conducts himself. What he’s done here has been remarkable. Not only the two Cup runs in three years but he’s also re-instilled what it means to be a Bruin and a locker room culture that other clubs should be trying to attain. Simply, he brought winning hockey back to Boston.

*The last time the Bruins final game of the season wasn’t a seventh game was in 2003 (New Jersey).

*I need to go to bed soon so I’m not gonna break down the roster now. But nothing needs to be blown up. Just some tinkering here and there. They’re all set in the most important position for the long haul. Still, due to the salary cap going down (before it goes up again), Peter Chiarelli will have his hands full this summer.

*Good to see a good chunk of fans stick around for the Cup presentation and give props. Yeah, your team just got kicked in the balls but it’s still the goddamn Cup. Might never see one of these again, may as well stick around. And those who did gave the Hawks a well-deserved applause.

*Prior to the series, the cities of Boston and Chicago have always had mutual feelings for each other (somewhat due to lack of sports rivalries). Namely, each loved the other. Thanks in part to the two classy coaches, they way they play the game, and the way their example trickled down to their players, the mutual respect between cities and teams remained intact (take a look at that handshake line if you doubt it). Rare for two big cities on this stage. But then, Boston and Chicago are rare cities. So congrats to the Chicago Blackhawks. Like the Bs, they had a franchise lull before returning to glory. They’re a great organization with a great coach and a great fanbase. And there’s a hell of a lot of teams that would make you a lot sicker to lose to (looking your way, British Columbia). I tip my cap to them. They won it fair and they didn’t disgrace this great game (still looking that way). A great team that gave the Bs a great series. Chicago people are aces, too. If it can’t be us, let it be them. Enjoy it. Just have Big Cat or Chief set Kane up with a Stoolie Uber account STAT. The Hawks flew 180 family members to the game last night.

*NBC with one final indignity for viewers: completely missing the lengthy embrace between countrymen and great friends Zdeno Chara and Marian Hossa to kick off the handshake line. Absolute disgrace that people watching on TV didn’t get to see that because it was such a great moment. Andrew Shaw gave us a little of the old filth flarn filth though and live F-bombs are always entertaining.

*Two years ago, Bettman told me in Vegas that the NHL was ensuring that NBCSN would be available in more places soon. But some military bases, Courtyard Marriotts, and plenty of college campuses still can’t access a channel owned by NBC. Time to clean that shit up.

*In 2004, I went to The Bronx for Game 7. A week later, I celebrated an 86-year drought in St. Louis and it was pisser. And a week after that, I realized that as fun as it when your team wins, your life doesn’t change. Not a whit. So don’t let your life change when your team loses. It’s a game, entertainment. There are bigger fish to fry in life. Think of two years ago or just be thankful last night wasn’t a Game 7. Your team gave its all and came up just a bit short to a fantastic team. They left it all out there and that’s all you can ask of them—it just didn’t go their way. But they’re still most worthy of your pride.

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