By Kevin Flanagan
BSD Bruins Senior Staff Writer
The Game 7 4-1 loss of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night will not only leave a permanent scar on those who suited up in Black and Gold this season, it will leave a hole that they will never be able to fill, even if they are fortunate enough to get another chance at hoisting the toughest trophy to win in professional sports.
And that goes double for the leadership core of Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand.
The emotion the above-mentioned trio exhibited in the home dressing room following the heart-wrenching defeat was palpable, and it was clear to see to anyone who was there or watched the footage, that they know that they likely let the last chance to claim the title of Stanley Cup Champion as a collective group.
In sports in our society today, we often use the words “hero” and “heroic” much too loosely. Those terms should be reserved exclusively for those who put their lives on the line to save others on a daily basis, not those who play a kids game for a living.
That being said, the intestinal fortitude that the 42-year-old Bruins captain showed by returning to play after sustaining a broken jaw in the Game 4 loss in St. Louis was a testament to his toughness and will to win.
And it also spoke to the fact he clearly knew that this was very likely his last chance to be able to be handed Lord Stanley’s silver challis as an NHL player.
This loss also handed the Tuukka Rask critics – of which, I once was one – the all too convenient club that “they will never win a thing with him in goal for the Bruins” to once again wield with all of their fury.
Anyone who knows anything about the game of hockey understands that if Rask didn’t play to the level he did throughout this run to the Finals, the Bruins are playing golf after the first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs in April.
Yet, as happened even before the final horn sounded in Game 7, the angry – and frankly moronic sounding – mob of Rask haters couldn’t wait to lay the loss on the guy who would have been the Conn Smythe Trophy winner if the B’s forwards could have found an answer to the lightning in a bottle that was the Blues’ netminder Jordan Binnington since he was called up in January after spending the last five years in the AHL.
The fact that the Bruins even found themselves in the Finals so quickly after former general manager Peter Chiarelli attempted to lay waste to there future with his inability to draft and spending like a drunken sailor in a salary cap league is astounding in itself.
B’s GM Don Sweeney – who did a remarkable job of rebuilding a once floundering franchise on the fly – has clearly identified his future foundation on the blueline in Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, and one would suspect that Bergeron, Marchand, and David Pastrnak will still be a force to be reckoned with – even though they were extremely sporadic, especially in the Final, this postseason – for the next few years.
However, for as competitive as a club they may be in the future, the trio that represented the heart and soul of this 2018-19 squad will likely never be as close as they were to winning their second championship in the last eight years together.
And that is a sickening realization that they felt as Game 7’s result was no longer in doubt, will linger with them for their lifetimes.