BOSTON — The failure to live up to expectations in sports breeds change. It always has and always will. So as the Bruins looked ready to choke away a 3-1 series lead to Toronto with a Game 7 loss on Monday night, it was far from unnatural to think that changes may be coming for the B’s.
And while the roster may be retooled in the offseason, it’s unlikely that seismic changes will come this summer, thanks in large part to one of the greatest comebacks in Boston sports history. The B’s scored three goals in the final 11 minutes of the third period and then once more in overtime to improbably come from behind and bounce the Maple Leafs in an unforgettable Game 7.
The pressure of these situations, no matter how much players will deny it, certainly weighs heavy. Bruins forward Milan Lucic, who has been upfront and accountable for his lack of production this season, admitted as much just moments following the breathtaking comeback and win.
“You guys know what it’s been like here the last two years ever since we won [the Stanley Cup in 2011],” Lucic said. “It’s kind of been, like Claude [Julien] said, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of team, and he said that after [Sunday's] game, and it was no different in [Game 7]. And I think it’s a special group and we don’t want it to change and everyone has a lot of fun coming to the rink here and being around each other and playing for each other.”
While it may be a special group, it’s a group that certainly doesn’t make it easy on themselves, their coaches or the fans. This is largely the same team that blew a 3-0 series lead in 2010 against the Flyers. It’s also the same group that went down 0-2 against Montreal in the first round a year later only to come back and win Game 7 in overtime on its way to winning a Cup. It’s also pretty much the same group that, as a No. 2 seed, lost to the Capitals last season in the first round.
Those are also the types of setbacks that could certainly bring about change, too.
“They certainly keep you in check. I’m a tired coach, I can tell you that much,” Julien said after the game. “Trying to really find a way to get these guys to give us what we want out of them, and we make it tough on ourselves. We’re being honest here, not being able to close it in Game 5; we’ve had trouble. We’ve always had trouble with the killer instinct. But that’s maybe a fault of ours, but a strength of ours is the character you saw tonight. There’s that fault, and then there’s that character. Somewhere along the way, you try to fix the faults, and hopefully keep that character going. That’s the biggest challenge for me right now. “
That’s obviously a work in progress, a job that Julien and the rest of the Bruins get to continue for at least one more round.
“I’ve always felt the same way that if we play the way we’ve played in the past, we’re good enough to [beat] anybody,” goalie Tuukka Rask said. “But then again, if we’re not playing at our level and if not everybody’s pulling the load, it’s frustrating and probably frustrating for the management, too. I think at times, this series, it was frustrating to watch because we couldn’t create anything and we were getting scored on, but then again, a comeback like this, I’m sure it builds confidence and trust.”