What do these events have in common?
- Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is sentenced to life in prison
- President George H.W. Bush vomits into the lap of Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa
- Czechoslovakia’s Federal Assembly votes to break into two nations: the Czech Republic and Slovakia
- Nirvana hits No. 1 in the Billboard 200 with Nevermind
- Dennis Eckersley wins the AL Cy Young and MVP award
- Mark Messier wins the Hart Trophy
- Manon Rheaume became the first woman to play in one of the four major sports
Each of these events occurred in 1992 – the last time the Boston Bruins reached the Eastern Conference finals. Even for me, it seems like a long time, and that’s because it was a long time ago.
For those of us who have followed the Bruins, Friday’s 5-1 over Philadelphia was a great moment, ending years of futile attempts to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs’ final four. While the Bruins’ bandwagon continues to grow, for most of the longtime fans, getting past the semifinals is not nearly enough. In fact, nothing short of a Stanley Cup will be enough for the die-hards.
There are quite a few major storylines coming out of Game 4 and heading into the Eastern Conference finals against Tampa Bay, Here are a few:
The status of Patrice Bergeron: Peter Chiarelli announced Saturday morning that Bergeron suffered a “mild concussion” and agreed in principle with the prospect that Bergeron will likely miss the start of the finals, with Tyler Seguin taking his spot in the lineup.
The 25-year-old Bergeron was the victim of a heavy hit from Claude Giroux early in the third period Friday. He skated off the ice and into the locker room under his own power, and Chiarelli said Bergeron spent the night at home and said, “When I spoke with him after the game he was a little despondent, but he was quite lucid. He was despondent having suffered another concussion. It was just okay.”
With Adam McQuaid also day-to-day, Bruins’ management, players, and fans have likely become fans of the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings. If either (or both) of these teams can extend their series (with Vancouver and San Jose, respectively) to seven games, it would mean a few more days for McQuaid and Bergeron to recover. If either Nashville or Detroit can force a seventh game (both are down 3-1), it’s likely the earliest Boston could open the final would be Thursday (Friday if Detroit reaches a Game 7).
The old guard: There are some longtime veterans facing off in this series. First off, we have 41-year-old Dwayne Roloson going against 37-year-old Tim Thomas. Two of the oldest goalies in the league, Roloson and Thomas both were told they couldn’t make it and written off more than a few times in their careers. Yet, here both are, on the verge of the Stanley Cup finals.
Thomas and Roloson aren’t the only oldtimers on the rosters. Boston, of course, has Mark Recchi, who is still contributing at age 43. Tampa has 35-year-old Martin St. Louis, who is a Hart Trophy finalist and Thomas’ former teammate at the University of Vermont. Both teams also have a collection of 34-year-olds (and 35-year-old Shane Hnidy, who doesn’t play much).
Vengeance: Though the Bruins only had eight players from last year’s collapse playing against the Flyers this year, the sweep has to be a relief. The core group of Chiarelli, Claude Julien, Zdeno Chara, Thomas, Bergeron, and David Krejci have been here for years and never gotten past the second round. Chiarelli was roundly criticized (including by me) for keeping Julien and the rest of the core of the collapse intact. It looks like he knew something many of us did not.
As always, thanks for reading — and please leave a comment or two.
Follow Steve on Twitter @skendallhockey
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