I think I’ll be fine once they stop showing the two goals every five minutes on television. I can’t even bring myself to turn on the NHL Network right now. It was that gut-wrenching. It’s almost like the hockey gods wanted to end the season with two themes: Karma and irony. Karma for the Bruins fighting their way out of a three goal deficit to take game seven from the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round a few weeks back. It’s also ironic that one of the best goaltenders in the league would give up two goals seventeen seconds apart.
So, where does that leave us with Tuukka Rask. He was playing for a big contract and getting his team to the Stanley Cup Finals should guarantee an excellent (if not obscene) offer from the Boston Bruins. Rask had to play a daunting compressed schedule sometimes getting in three games in one week. ”It was kind of a rollercoaster,” Rask said. ”It was a difficult season even to start with because you know you’re going to have a real tight schedule, play almost every other night. We played some good hockey and some not-so-good hockey. Going to the playoffs we made a miracle in the first round going through Toronto after that deficit. We made a good run.”
It was a good run indeed. Yes, we hockey fans just got to experience our very own ‘Buckner’ moment. (As someone who saw that play go down and the look of utter devastation on my parents’ faces, I can now say I fully understand their pain.) That being said, we pulled off a minor miracle against the Maple Leafs. We weren’t supposed to beat the New York Rangers, and we only gave up a game to them. Practically every major publication outside of Boston had the Pittsburgh Penguins obliterating the Bruins. The Bruins pulled of a second miracle in a total sweep of them.
So then came the Chicago Blackhawks who had an amazing first half of the season. In the end, the Bruins fell in six games. Now, we can nit-pick and take apart every minor mistake that lead to opportunities and goals that gave Chicago the win. We could do that, but that would just make us look like the kind of fans a lot of people say we are. Our team played hurt, they played tired, and they played even though they knew it was not in their best interest to do so. (We could probably write an entire chapter about what Bergeron went through to get here.) They got us to the finals. Twenty eight teams can’t make that boast.
The Bruins players have apologized to us repeatedly over the last eighteen hours. Gentlemen, you have nothing to apologize for. As a recent fan who was spoiled by the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship, I should probably be angry. But I can’t say that. I’m proud of what you did with the time you had and I want to apologize to all of you. You fought harder and longer than you had to. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, you were the first team to rise up and give Boston its identity back. The quality of your play wiped the stain of victimhood from a city’s collective psyche and brought a lot of joy to a troubled city. For this you should be commended.
Especially you Tuukka.