Look, no one wants to talk about the Bruins crushing Game 7 loss any longer than necessary, so let’s get this over as quickly as possible.
I hate to say it, but we should have seen this coming.
I’m certainly not saying that I thought Boston was going to lose, because I didn’t. But after looking back at the entire series, it’s apparent that the Bruins just weren’t going to be able to get over the hump against their opponent.
This is also taking nothing away from the St. Louis Blues, who played a hard-nosed, physical series and earned every win they got. Goalie Jordan Binnington stood on his head in Game 7 and knocked away everything Boston threw at him.
So when I say that we should have seen this coming, I mean that we’ve actually seen that story play out before. In 2011, the Bruins went up against the Vancouver Canucks and did exactly what the Blues did to this year’s Boston team — they bashed them around and bullied them into submission.
There were talking heads on the airwaves over the course of the Stanley Cup Final who were saying that the Bruins — specifically players like David Pastrnak — seemed a bit intimidated by the physical style of play that St. Louis brought to the table. I disagree in a way, but I can see their point. I don’t think the Bruins were intimidated by the Blues, but I do think that they got worn out.
Over the course of seven games, the constant pounding that St. Louis delivered took its toll and we saw it manifest in the first period of Game 7. With less than a minute to go in the frame, an exhausted Brad Marchand opted to skate to the bench for a line change instead of drop back on defense. The ensuing sequence led to the Blues’ second goal, which was an absolute momentum killer for Boston.
It sounds like I’m blaming Marchand for the loss, which I’m not. But I will criticize the Bruins as a team for picking the worst imaginable time to have their worst game of the entire season. The first line remained quiet. The defense missed rotations and allowed free looks at the net. The over-passing led to a number of turnovers. It was a mess all around.
We’ve made it this far without criticizing everyone’s favorite punching bag, Tuukka Rask. And we’re not going to start here.
This loss was not Rask’s fault. Rask was the reason the Bruins were in a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. His postseason run was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and there’s no way that he deserves to take the fall for what happened in Game 7.
So if you want to look for a direction to throw your blame, look no further than “the perfection line” of Marchand, Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. That line — which was the best line in hockey all season — gave you virtually nothing over the past month. If that line had combined to score four or five more goals over the course of the month, Boston would be planning another parade for this weekend.