Historic Gaffe Comes Back to Haunt Bruins in Gut-Wrenching Game 7 Loss


May 15, 2010

Historic Gaffe Comes Back to Haunt Bruins in Gut-Wrenching Game 7 Loss Oh, the irony.

That had to be going through the heads of any longtime Bruins fans when, with 8:50 left in regulation of the Flyers 4-3 series-clinching win in Game 7 on Friday night, the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.

Remember 1979, anyone? On May 10 of that year, in the conference finals against Montreal, the Bruins were whistled for the same infraction that led to Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur's game-tying, power-play goal. The Habs would eventually win that game in overtime and take the conference finals.

Thirty-one years and four days later, with a chance to play their rivals in the conference finals for the first time since that infamous moment, there was Marc Savard raising his stick for a change, Vladimir Sobotka hopping over the board and Savard failing to come off.

Sobotka tried to button-hook back over, but it was too late. The Bruins had been called for a penalty that has forever been a sore spot in team history. Then, with only 18 ticks left on the power play, Simon Gagne found the back of the net and the Flyers had their first lead of the game — a lead they wouldn?t relinquish.

"I was coming back and I saw no one jumped, so I stayed on," Savard said after the game. "I?m not sure what happened after that, I went back on the puck. I don?t know."

Well, the Bruins and their fans now know what the 2004 Yankees and their fans felt like when their team blew a 3-0 series lead to the Red Sox in the ALCS. While that Red Sox team went down in history and went on to break a certain curse, the 2009-10 Boston Bruins just joined the Yankees, the 1942 Detroit Red Wings and the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins in infamy as one of four pro sports teams to accomplish the dubious feat.

Ironically, the Bruins lost Game 7 just as they lost the series. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Michael Ryder and two by Milan Lucic, everything looked great. But a late first-period goal by James van Riemsdyk seemed to take the wind out of the Bruins? sails, and in the second period, they resorted back to the flat team that looked like it was ready to blow a 3-0 series lead. Scott Hartnell and Daniel Briere combined to tie the game in the middle frame and set the stage for the Gagne dagger in the final stanza.

But to the Bruins? credit, that is what they pointed to — their lackluster second period — to explain the loss instead of the call that continues to sting every Bruins fan?s ears. Just as they did in the series, the Bruins sat on a lead and went into prevent defense. That?s what cost them this series, not a questionable call.

"We were in control of that game but we let it slip away, just like the series, I guess," forward Patrice Bergeron said. "Tough call there on too many men, but there?s nothing you can do. The refs are just doing their job, and they?ve been strict on that call this playoffs, so it?s part of the game. What are you going to do? If we didn?t blow that lead, we wouldn?t have been there anyways."

Bruins head coach Claude Julien wasn?t about to dwell on what may or may not have been a bad call either. Julien stressed that he and his team weren?t looking to make excuses and were content on taking full blame for the loss and the blown series lead.

The referees have harped down on too-many-men calls throughout the playoffs, and this was the 33rd of this playoff season.

"It?s one of those calls I?m not going to criticize the linesmen for calling," the obviously distraught coach said. "They?ve been calling them the whole playoffs. Nothing there has changed. We had a player come to the bench and had his stick up like he wanted to change, and he changed his mind and we had the next centerman jumping on. So they made that call. He made kind of a loop and came right back to the bench. The puck was in the corner, but they call those. They?re calling them through the whole playoffs, so we?ll leave it at that."

And at that, the 2009-10 Bruins season ended, and the B's and theirs fans were left wondering what could have been.

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