Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals between the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks was basically a microcosm for the series. The teams went back and forth, exchanging chances and goals, until the game finally had to be decided in overtime (for the third time this series).
The Bruins headed into last night’s game on top of the world, they won game 2 in Chicago after losing game 1 in triple OT and had taken the home-ice advantage away from the Blackhawks. The Bruins then won game 3 convincingly in Boston and if they had only won last night they would be headed back to the Windy City for game 5 with a commanding 3-1 series lead.
But the Blackhawks had other plans and instead of being up 3-1, the Bruins head to Chicago with the series all knotted up at 2-2. The Stanley Cup Finals has now become a best-of-three series.
This isn’t to say the Blackhawks just walked away with a win, it took everything they had last night to tie the series. The Bruins came back from two different 2-goal leads and even overcame a 1-goal deficit late in the 3rd period to force the OT period.
It was the kind of up and down affair we’ve come to expect from these two evenly matched opponents. Both teams are original-6 franchises that can play almost any kind of hockey. They can be physical, they both have an abundance of goal scorers, grinders, plenty of “heart and soul” guys with solid defensive cores and both have been getting some very goaltending (well, except for last night). To say this series is close would be an absolute understatement.
With all that said, that’s what made last night’s loss so tough to take. The Bruins are a team that constantly make things tougher on themselves, whether it’s not putting teams away when they should or taking too many penalties when defending a lead, they’ve always just made things so tough on themselves and their fans. Just go back to 2011 when they won the Cup, they played in three game-7′s that playoff run and even went down 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals before eventually winning it all in, you guessed it, seven games.
However I thought this year might be different, I thought maybe when they swept the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Finals that this team was different, maybe they finally wanted to take the easy route and put teams away when they had the opportunity. Heck, they even beat the New York Rangers the round before in just five games.
So, when they dominated game 3 versus the Blackhawks and went up 2-1 with game 4 to be played in Boston, I really thought they were going to go up 3-1 and be one win closer to the Stanley Cup. This was their chance to put their figurative foot on the Blackhawks figurative throat and get even closer to their second Cup in just three years, but this is sports and more importantly hockey, nothing is given and almost everything is earned.
Every time the Bruins came back the Blackhawks pushed back and wouldn’t go quietly into the night like the Rangers and Penguins did. The Blackhawks’ stars even rose to occasion as they got goals from Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane and even Jonathan Toews.
Maybe the Bruins never had a chance to make it easy on themselves because Chicago wouldn’t let them but I’m a firm believer in “you make your own fate” and the Bruins could’ve/should’ve won that game and made this series a heck of a lot easier on themselves. That game was up for grabs more than once and sure they came back plenty of times during last night’s game, but they shouldn’t have had to and now they find themselves in the midst of a dogfight for the Stanley Cup.
But at least it’s a dogfight the Bruins have been in before and to tell you the truth, I feel a whole lot better about the Bruins when they’re in a dogfight and on the road, because thats usually where they find themselves and when they tend to play their best.