This Boston Bruins embarked on an incredible journey in 2018-19.
They started the calendar year thousands of miles away in China for a preseason extravaganza with the Calgary Flames. They hit the midway mark with a come-from-behind Winter Classic win over the Chicago Blackhawks at historic Notre Dame Stadium.
The season ended with a bitter defeat in Game 7 against a St. Louis Blues squad that completed the greatest mid-season turnaround in NHL history.
This year’s Bruins had it all. Core veterans like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron led the way with their spirited leadership on and off the ice. Young talents like Charlie McAvoy, David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk — despite a tough postseason for the two top-six wingers — took another step forward. The comedic duo of Charlie McAvoy and Torey Krug provided Bruins fans with social media gems all season long.
The Bruins no doubt had the talent on the ice. They backed up that talented with an unbreakable family-like bond. That combination is tough to beat and even harder to root against.
“I think it was the personalities we had, the leadership we had. I thought we came together. Not just this year, but the last few years as a team that really bought-in as one, played for each other, played together,” Chara said following the heartbreaking Game 7 loss. “We battled together and we shared some ups and downs. We just came up a bit short.”
This team created heartwarming moments both on and off the ice. You understood that they were a real team.
It’s hard to explain but easy to see. The Bruins displayed their emotions in a somber locker room — and rightfully so — just minutes after the Blues snatched away their Cup dreams in Game 7. They had nothing left in the tank.
DeBrusk was immobile by the time the reporters entered the room and sat beneath his No. 74 stall in full gear, with his head in hands and sobbing. A few stalls down, Chara pulled his jersey over his head to shield his own tears.
When asked about what he said to his teammates, McAvoy — one of the few that could formulate a complete thought — had a fitting response.
“I love you. We all love each other and we’re going to lean on each other to get through this,” McAvoy said. “It’s tough. We had all the makings of a special group and we felt so special in here. It was really special to be a part of something like this and then to not win, I feel really incomplete.”
They came up short of the ultimate goal, but this team and its fan base have a lot to be proud of.
The Boston Bruins have a bright future ahead. They took another leap forward in Bruce Cassidy’s third year behind the bench. But they have one more step to take, and an off-season reliving that bitter Game 7 defeat should motivate them enough once they report back to Warrior Ice Arena in the fall.
Matt is a recent graduate from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. He currently reports on the Boston Bruins and writes featured stories and game recaps for both Bruins Daily and Boston.com
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