I should be happy for these Bruins.
And on paper, I am.
There is an awful lot to love about this young team, and going into next year, there is a tremendous amount to build on.
And we'll always have game six.
But ultimately, right now, I guess the reason that I'm really disappointed is that, much like the team itself, I believed in these Bruins. And their post game comments bear out that even if very few others did, they believed in themselves:
(Quotes from the Boston Globe)
Zdeno Chara: "In the end, you feel so empty. We really thought we were going to the next round. We believed we were going to get it done."
Tim Thomas: "I don't think anybody in this locker room thought we'd be done tonight. The belief was there. It was on my part. It was on everybody's part that we would keep this thing going."
Marc Savard: "It's tough because guys battled hard. We really believed as a group that we could go on."
Claude Julien: "I think we all believed we could get to the next round of the playoffs...our expectations were high...and rightfully so."
This team exceeded expectations, battled through injuries, fought down the stretch, and earned their way into the playoffs by refusing to quit, even after losing their top defenseman (Chara) and leading scorer (Savard) for key periods at the end of the season.
Then, in much the same way as Ben described the Devils this season, the playoffs were, for the Bruins, a microcosm of the regular season.
Both the regular season and the playoffs started with virtually no one giving the Bruins a chance, and that was before they faced serious adversity. In the regular season, the prognosticators had them finishing in the basement even before they lost Bergeron and Alberts, and in the playoffs even Bruins boosters like John Buccigross opined that the best the Bruins could possibly hope for was to win a single home game.
After they dropped the first two in Montreal, thanks to an unstoppable opening charge by the Habs (and their fans) in game one, and a referee's whistle in game two, the B's were counted out and in a deep hole.
Then, in both the regular season, and the playoffs, they battled back, played with their hearts, and played their game. And like their heroic effort to fight to the finish and make the playoffs, forcing game seven became a major victory in itself. While forcing a game seven against anybody after being down 3-1 would have been impressive, doing so against the Canadiens got a monkey off their back that they could finally beat a team that had bested them all season. That game six victory was not only the best Bruins game that I've seen in years, but it did wonders for winning back hockey fans in the Hub, reminding the folks who have been content to ride happily along for the winning ways of the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox that hockey deserves it's place in, and perhaps one day again, atop, the "big four."
So I know- I should be happy.
And I will be again, with some time. Basically, this game, like all game sevens, was a game of inches, and if that first Montreal goal doesn't bounce in off a stick, who knows?
If Murray buries that picture perfect pass from Savard before crashing into the boards and ending his season, (and maybe his career with the Bruins?), who knows?
And, goddamnit, when at the 14 minute mark of the first period, when Chara gambled to chip it in at the blueline, and Kessel made a great play, whirling his body outside the zone, barely keeping the puck inside, and delivering a laser of a pass to Sturm who shot it with Krejci on the doorstep... who knows?
OK- now I'm just pouring salt on the wound.
But, that's the game of hockey, and the Bruins showed a ton of heart, guts and fight this year. Through it all, they were fun to watch. Add to the equation that next year, we'll have a healthy Patrice Bergeron, a ton of talented rookies and the confidence that they can compete in the playoffs.
But allow me to be bummed out for today.
I mean, you know ... I really believed.