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Bruins Don’t Make It Easy on Themselves, or Fans

Nathan Horton's (middle) overtime goal lifts the Bruins to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (Courtesy: Elise Amendola, Associated Press)

“How about the B’s, man? Back from the dead,” I emphatically began to tell my buddy Matt. “Definitely going to write abo—,” I slowly stopped short and noticed Matt’s glaring eyes. He quickly interjected, “No! Don’t, ya–ya- can’t write about it.”


Admittedly, I don’t bleed black and gold (or is it yellow?) as much as I bleed Celtic green or venerate the Flying Elvis, but I understood where Matt was coming from. Bruins’ fans, and rightfully so, act somewhere between Red Sox fans before 2004 and Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind. Without inundating you with details, it has something to do with lack of success coupled with excruciating playoff defeats in recent years. And by excruciating playoff defeats, I mean Game 7 losses — 3 years in a row.

So, when I texted Matt hours before Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens to ask his feelings pertinent to the contest, I wasn’t surprised when he responded:

“I just think it’s going to be a good game. That’s all I’m going to say.”

That was not enough, though. “Are you nervous, scarred, pissed, or excited?”

“Just anxious.”

Matt, along with the rest of the fans in the Hub, was anxious. Not good anxious. This wasn’t the type of anxious you feel when you and your buddies are slowly ascending the “Superman” ride at 6 Flags. This was the feeling you get as you take the precipitous fall down that first drop — only for 60 minutes, and there’s the fear you could actually fall out of your seat.

This feeling is justified. The Bruins and fans haven’t experienced success in what feels like an eternity. Meanwhile, each of the other 3 major sports franchises in Boston have a championship in the last decade. The Bruins are the designated driver, while everyone else is getting wasted and euphoric. That gets very old. Very quickly. Consequently, fans watch playoff games like they’re watching an installment of the Saw series. They look on, in horror, and bad things seem to inevitably happen at the most inopportune time.

I saw die-hard B’s fans become despondent after dropping the first two games of the Habs series at home. Then I observed, and participated, in the jovial renaissance as the Bruins took the next two games in Montreal. Once the Bruins took the series lead in Game 5, I screamed to my friends, “We’re back! We’re backkkkkk,” as they, in turn, yelled back “We’re soooo back,” a la Bradley Cooper in The Hangover. The only thing missing was a friend saying, “And we’re the three best friends that anyone could ever have!”

Then, the Bruins lost Game 6 up in Canada. At the time, I thought  back to The Hangover. That’s what the Bruins were — Cam Neeley was Cooper, Peter Chiarelli was Ed Helms, and Claude Julien was Zac Galifianakis — as they went from being ecstatic to an almost new low following the clarification that ‘Doug’ was Mike Epps Game 6.

(Quick Note: If you are wondering, the answer is yes: It is a valid concern that I just compared the Bruins coach to a character in a movie who may or may not have mental issues.)

And after all of that, from Matt acting as if I was a soothsayer by the thought of writing about the B’s improbable comeback….down to Thursday night’s epic win, you know what?

I’m jealous.

I’m jealous because, to some extent, I miss that feeble mindset. I miss not knowing who to trust. I miss before Doc  became a savant at drawing up key inbound plays. Or before Tito became a sure-handed guy, who managed persona’s like Steve Jobs manages Apple. And finally, before Bill Bellichik became Bill effing Bellichik. That consternation is long gone.

That’s not to say I missed this run. I’ve been on the bandwagon since back in the 2008 playoffs when a couple nobodies, named Chara and Lucic, on the 8th seeded Bruins gave the top-seeded Canadiens an extremely competitive series. But since the lockout, earlier this decade, the NHL grew weary on me. This is probably due to me not being able to locate Versus on my cable box, but that’s not the point. The point is with the other teams, it feels different. I still care and follow their coverage beyond any normal person’s standards, but when they fail I don’t get that same “Superman ride” feeling. Instead I feel like I just watched a great movie with a bad ending, like Inception or something. Subsequently, I end up over-thinking the whole ordeal, and eventually move on.

But with the Bruins…thinking about the games, what could have been, or in this season’s case  – thinking of what could STILL be – it’s like watching Inception only the upshot is keeping me up all-night while goggling other people’s interpretation of what just trainspired. So I notion to Bruins fans, to simply enjoy it. Enjoy the ride. Remember the highs, but never forget the lows. Because in the end, the ‘lows’ make the ‘highs’ feel that much more worth it.

About Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is the author of the weekly Sports Media Musings column at Sports Of Boston. Hadfield is known as one of the top sports media critics in Boston. He also contributes to Boston Sports Media Watch. In November 2011, Hadfield helped launch the new SoB Point Taken blog featuring his podcasts & musings on sports, media and culture. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

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4 comments for “Bruins Don’t Make It Easy on Themselves, or Fans”

  1. I was especially not amused by Bergeron’s high sticking penalty with less than three minutes left in the game. Bergeron hit Wisniewski twice in the back with his stick while skating behind him. That penalty gave the Canadiens a power play and allowed them to tie the game and send it into overtime. Was Bergeron deliberately trying to throw the series, or does Montreal have some kind of secret weapon that allowed them to take over his brain?

    Posted by Alan | April 28, 2011, 9:01 am
  2. I was even less amused with Subban’s acting ability when he took a dive reminiscent of something out of a soccer game to draw the penalty on the Bruins (I forget which player). He was giggling about it moments later.

    Posted by joe | April 28, 2011, 11:16 am
  3. I don’t remember that one. The only penalties against Boston listed in the box score at are:

    1st Period

    8:22 Boston hooking 2 min M. Ryder drawn by T. Plekanec

    16:02 Boston elbowing 2 min S. Thornton drawn by R. White

    2nd Period

    18:12 Boston boarding 2 min J. Boychuk drawn by J. Halpern

    3rd Period

    17:23 Boston high-sticking 2 min P. Bergeron drawn by J. Wisniewski

    Posted by Alan | April 28, 2011, 12:26 pm
  4. How does everyone feel about PK? Great talent, sort of like Noah though. Love him if he’s on your side, hate him if not..

    Posted by Ryan Hadfield | April 28, 2011, 2:40 pm

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