Obviously, for those old enough to remember, the Don Cherry-coached Bruins, thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty, lost a heartbreaking playoff game to their hated rival Canadiens in the 1979 semifinals at the Montreal Forum.
Now, just about 31 years later, they win a double-OT thriller to put them on the brink of the second round of the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs.
How ironic is it that after probably their most miserable power play in recent memory this season, they start their third-period comeback on the man advantage and then win the game on a power play?
But as if Alanis Morissette’s "Ironic" isn’t blaring in your head, you have to wonder how this team — which had its heart and resilience questioned all season long — has suddenly become the comeback kids. They've now won their third straight game in which they fell behind 1-0 and second in the series in which they trailed 2-0. Even Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who robbed the Bruins on numerous scoring chances in the overtime periods, can’t figure out the irony of this Bruins squad he faced all season that suddenly just won’t stay down when they seemingly are beaten.
"For whatever reason, we need to protect the lead," an exhausted and bewildered Miller said. "It is almost better if we get scored on first."
Right now, the Bruins are OK with that. They may not like it and may come to learn the hard way that falling behind all the time can come back to haunt them, but ironically, a team that only a few months ago seemed to have little confidence now believes it can come back in playoff games against arguably the best goalie on the planet. Right now, nothing is insurmountable.
"I thought that after the second period, we played a team that played extremely well tonight," head coach Claude Julien said. "They played desperate, they played hard, and if we were going to win this game, we needed to show a little bit more urgency and energy. I thought we could skate better. Guys came out and did the job and, obviously, again tonight found a way to win."
That’s this Bruins team’s MO: finding ways to win. Not so long ago, it was finding ways to lose. We can dissect this all we want and point to supposed turning points, but this team isn’t dwelling on the past right now.
The Marco Sturm–David Krejci–Miroslav Satan line was a perfect example of this. Nonexistent really in the first three games and the first two periods of Game 4, they got an earful from Julien in the second intermission urging them to step up because the team needed them.
"I thought that line was just OK for the longest time," Julien said when asked what the difference was for them in the final period of regulation and then the overtime frames. "Obviously, I had a couple of words for them after the second period, for that line, and told them that we needed more out of them if we’re going to have a chance to win. [Krejci] responded with a goal, and Satan scores the winner. So there’s character right there. They got the message and they wanted to be difference-makers and they were."
Krejci and Satan weren’t the only ones from the "Euro Trio" that stepped up. Even though Sturm still has only one goal in his last 20 games, he is still contributing in other ways, and in Game 4, he helped make the winning goal happen.
"I knew there was a lane when I gave it to [Satan]," said Michael Ryder. "Sturmie drove the net and gave him an opening. "I was just hoping he could score. I was just thinking, 'Bury it, bury it.' Miro made a great move to challenge Miller, and he just deked him with his backhand."
But unlike so many times during this past regular season, when this team would get a couple or a few straight wins and rest on its laurels, they are already focused on the next game. That game will be the toughest one for any team in the playoffs: the clincher. The Bruins know all too well what it’s like to be down 3-1 in a series, and they also know it’s a deficit that can be quickly erased.
"I think we showed a lot of character tonight, and it’s a huge win, but it’s only one win. We need one more," said Patrice Bergeron, who netted the game-tying goal in the third. "It’s going to be huge. We need to be ready. They will. They came out hard. They are a great team, and tonight, they showed us we can’t sit back on our heels, because they are going to make us pay."
Yet, ironically, it’s the Bruins with the 3-1 lead this time around, and they got there by making other teams pay for sitting back on their heels.