Two goals in seventeen seconds.
That was the difference from the Boston Bruins forcing a Game 7 and the Chicago Blackhawks hoisting Lord’s Stanley Cup.
When Milan Lucic made it 2-1 at 12:11 of the third, the Bruins seemed to have their ticket stamped to Chicago for a seventh game. But lightning struck twice on the Black and Gold late in the third as Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland tallied the tying and winning goals at 18:44 and 19:01 of the final stanza.
This loss is going to be a sore spot for many in The Hub of Hockey for quite a while. There’s no question that some Bruins fans will flood sports radio with calls, go to message boards, comment on articles, suggest to trade the whole team and more to vent their frustrations.
Less than 24 hours after their third period collapse, however, there’s still one thing that holds true.
The Blackhawks were the better team, and deserve to hoist Lord’s Stanley Cup for the second time in four seasons.
This isn’t to say the Bruins didn’t have their chances to lift the Cup for the second time in three years, because they did. One can only imagine the line of duck boats had they came out victorious in Game 4. Even if they held on in Game 6 and forced a seventh game, the thought of another parade still seemed reasonable. But it was not meant to be.
Sure, one can point fingers at certain players or situations as to why the Bruins didn’t come through. The reliable pairing of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg arguably played their worst hockey of the season. Jaromir Jagr and Tyler Seguin failed to produce offensively. Perhaps a healthy Patrice Bergeron would’ve made the difference.
On the other hand, the Blackhawks season is one that will go into the record books, albeit a lockout shortened one. And it was only fitting that they capped it off by skating around the TD Garden ice with the Cup.
Just look at the talent that coach Joel Quenneville, General Manager Stan Bowman and company assembled. The dynamic punch of Selke Trophy winner Jonathan Toews and Conn Smythe recipient Patrick Kane had their best seasons. Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were reliable throughout the Blackhawks campaign. Bickell had a breakthrough season and is due for a big pay day when he hits the open market. Duncan Keith, who led all skaters with 28:51 of ice time, is a warrior. Corey Crawford, who many Hawks fans questioned after his glove malfunction(s) in Game 4, came through in the last two games of the series and also could have been this year’s MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Coming into the series, there were good reasons why some pundits picked the Bruins to win the Cup. They were fresh off dethroning Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jarome Iginla and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins in four straight and had all the momentum on their side after their 2-0 victory over the Hawks in Game 3.
The Blackhawks’ talent, however, proved to be too much for the Black and Gold, and there’s no shame in admitting that. The fine folks in Chicago have a reason to celebrate and they deserve to party on Madison Avenue.
At the same time, Bruins fans have a reason to be proud of their team, too. After all, if it weren’t for their Game 7 comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they wouldn’t have been in this position.
There are questions that GM Peter Chiarelli and company need to answer as the Draft and free agency loom. How much will they pay Tuukka Rask? Will they re-sign Jagr, Nathan Horton or Andrew Ference? Will Chiarelli use his buyout options on a guy like Rich Peverley to clear cap space?
But there’s one question that was answered in this six-game series. The Blackhawks deserve the Cup, and that’s a fact, not opinion.