That’s the word I used in an early morning e-mail to my friend John Suiter in Chicago, who wrote to me late last night from a city where horns exclaimed victory for the Blackhawks. He described fireworks exploding over Navy Pier and mobs moving down Michigan Avenue. There will be a parade. Maybe Ferris Bueller will return to belt out “Twist and Shout” on a float. Whiplash. The Bruins had in their hands a ticket to Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals, and seconds later found themselves spun around and holding nothing but their damaged pride. The sudden death wasn’t even in overtime. It was just before the clock ran out.
The Bruins came out of the gate last night like men desperate to break out of jail. Desperate, but immensely focused and capable. They overwhelmed Chicago in the first period, and could have scored four goals with a few favorable bounces instead of harvesting only one goal for all the effort. They were possessed. The second period was more balanced, as a spectator might expect. The third period was the last chance.
The first game of the playoffs was Wednesday, May 1, which seems like forever ago. Only two weeks before, the bombers had hit the Boston Marathon. It has been a while since I’ve followed hockey playoffs as closely as I did this season. I don’t remember watching so many games in 2011, when the B’s took the Stanley Cup in Vancouver. Maybe because of the bombing, my inner native Bay State loyalist compelled me to cheer on the local team. Boston Strong. There was an added layer to the narrative. And a story it was, unfolding over eight weeks like a serial novel on TV along with the sports pages, websites, and Facebook. Toronto, NY Rangers, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. The scene shifted, but the cast on our side remained the same, minus an injury or two. There will be plenty of time for review. These Bruins gave us some of the best hockey I can remember watching. The Blackhawks were the better team this time around. The NHL owners had locked out the players because of a labor dispute with the players’ union, wiping out the 2012 part of the season. I didn’t hear the TV announcers mention the lockout once during the playoff broadcasts. An inconvenient disagreement that could be a buzzkill. On with the games, on with the show. And what a show the Bruins put on, from narrow escape of Maple-Leaf wrap-up to epic beat-down of Crosby’s Penguins. For those of us who got caught up in the quest, they took us out of ourselves for two months. They brought some balance to the Commonwealth’s collective psyche after the high-anxiety of April’s mayhem, shelter-in-place, and capture of a young criminal. By last night, I could name the members of the B’s three main lines, if not the defensive pairings, which is saying a lot after having drifted from fan-dom these past many years.
Boston ought to bring out the duck boats anyway and fire up a rolling rally just to say thanks to this team and its coaching staff. Run ’em around the Boston Common a few times and give people a chance to holler and wave.