It might be the cynic deep down inside me, but I kind of like when teams choke. I know it’s a negative way to go through life, but it brings me joy. Even during election season, I try my best to watch the news for the side that is losing. It’s just more fun to laugh at people struggling to put a positive spin on something that is very negative.
Ok, so a lot of people in my life aren’t going to like this one. My Aunt and brother come to mind, but I think this has to be said.
There’s no getting around it. The Boston Bruins had the best regular season in NHL history. They dominated their way to the first seed in the NHL playoffs and broke all kinds of records. I don’t know much about hockey, but even I know that it is one of the hardest sports to just blast your way through opponents. It’s a long season like baseball, and has the physicality of football. What they did this year is downright amazing.
With that being said, what’s happening to them in the playoffs is equally amazing, just for a different reason. If you’re not up to date, the Bruins are currently tied 3-3 in their first round playoff series with the last seeded Florida Panthers. That’s a tough place to be for the record breaking Bruins.
Now, the President’s Cup winners losing in the first round of the playoffs isn’t unprecedented. I’m not looking it up, but I think the Tampa Bay Lightning have done it several times. Where this year graduates into uncharted territory is the fact that the Bruins had the BEST REGULAR SEASON IN NHL HISTORY. It’s not the same if you’re so dominant that you can’t be compared to anyone else in your sport, and then when it counts in the playoffs, you lay an egg.
I can hear the hockey know-it-alls out there saying, “But BO. The Lightning got swept in the 1st round after winning the President’s Cup.” That’s true. In my mind, that makes the Bruins losing this series even worse. It’s not like they were just overmatched like the Lightning were. Boston will have had 3 chances to close it out if they end up losing this series. That’s embarrassing for the BEST team in league history.
Now around these parts, any collapse of a good team is compared to the 2007 Patriots and the 2004 Yankees. Now those are some of the best examples of collapses in sports, but here’s where this Bruins meltdown is worse. First of all, football is just different. There aren’t 7 game series where you can have one bad game and bounce back. It’s do or die. That’s what makes the NFL playoffs the best, and there’s no debate. Every game is appointment watching because there’s no game 2, 3, 4. Besides, the Patriots lost in the Super Bowl. It’s not like they went undefeated and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
Now the 2004 Yankees is a much more apt comparison. I mean come on. They were up 3-0 on the Red Sox and ended up losing the series. Epic to say the least. That must be worse than the Bruins being up 3-1 and losing. After a closer inspection, it’s not that simple. First of all, the 2004 Yankees were not as legendary of a team as these Bruins are. They didn’t have the best record in league history, and they weren’t playing some team that barely made the playoffs. The 04 Red Sox were a very good team and a legendary advisory for the Yankees. The Florida Panthers on the other hand are small market hockey team with no lineage and barely made the playoffs.
Again, you hockey honks can compare the 04 Red Sox and the 22-23 Panthers with stats and all kinds of arguments. I’m not going to engage in that kind of lunacy. Your mental gymnastics won’t convince me. It’s like comparing apples to jet engines. And hey, you might even be right, but your argument means nothing in the end due to one singular fact. Yes, the Yankees lost a 3-0 series lead. Yes it was an epic failure. But do you remember where that collapse took place? It was in the ALCS. They were one game from being in the World Series Championship Series. They had to win in the playoffs to get to that point.
Meanwhile, the Bruins are sitting here with the best record in NHL history and they might not even make it to the second round of the playoffs. That is much more of an embarrassment then collapsing in the semi-finals.
Now, this is all presumptive. Everything I’ve said only applies if the Bruins lose game 7. Let me tell you, I am not rooting for that to happen. As little of a hockey fan I am, it would be cool to see the Bruins win the Stanley Cup. ANd if they squeak by and win the series, I think this adversity actually works to their benefit. Unlike a lot of number one seeds in sports, they’ll be battle tested and that counts for a lot in the grand scheme. Who knows, blogs like this may even become bulletin board material for the team.
But, if they do end up losing…Oh boy. There’s no getting around it. This will go down in history as the most embarrassing playoff performance in sports history.