By Ethan Nash
Another year, another disappointing defeat in the playoffs.
Since 2011 this has become the norm for the Boston Bruins. They get the fans’ hopes up after an incredible regular season, maybe even make it to the Stanley Cup Final and then break our collective hearts with a lacklustre playoff performance in the game that matters most.
In 2012, the Bruins couldn’t put the puck past Braden Holtby; In 2013, it took just 17 seconds to go from forcing a Game 7 to losing the Stanley Cup; in 2014, the Bruins scored only one goal at home in a Game 7 against the Montreal Canadiens; in 2018, the B’s couldn’t generate any offense and were eliminated in five games by the Tampa Bay Lightning; in 2019, the black and gold once again only mustered one goal at home in a Game 7 on hockey’s biggest stage; and this year was simply a repeat of 2018.
Are we noticing a trend?
When the Bruins have needed a win to stay alive, the offense has gone silent. Just take a look at this past series against the Lightning. After Brad Marchand’s goal at 16:02 of the third period to force Game 2 into overtime, the Bruins didn’t score an even-strength goal until David Krejci tied Game 5 at 17:27 of the third period. That’s three whole games without a goal at five-on-five. No team can expect to win a series with that level of production against any other NHL team, let alone the offensive powerhouse that is the Lightning.
2019 was very similar. In the Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues, the Bruins scored one goal in Game 5 and one goal in Game 7, arguably the two biggest games of the series. Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak didn’t record a single point in either of those games when they needed them the most.
Who knows what this Bruins team might look like at the beginning of next season. Tuukka Rask and Torey Krug could be gone, and Zdeno Chara might retire. That being said, the bottom line is that this team needs a goal scorer. With Taylor Hall set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason, maybe the Bruins will get just that.
Regardless of any moves, the club makes, the window for the Bruins to win the Cup with the core of Rask, Chara, Bergeron, Krejci and Marchand is coming to a close and, for all we know, could have ended after Monday’s double-overtime loss. Krejci certainly had that thought in his mind in his press conference after the game:
It’s hard to think so negatively about a team that has been so successful over the last decade. What the Bruins have been able to accomplish in recent years is nothing short of spectacular. But no one cares about regular season or playoff triumphs unless you win the last game of the season. As the late, great Kobe Bryant once said, “Winning takes precedence overall. There’s no gray area. No almosts.”