Sometime Thursday afternoon, the hockey discussion in Boston will turn to the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins are headed to Broad Street, where the ghosts of Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent still loom.
The mild-mannered sports fans of Philly have waited a long time for a Stanley Cup — not quite as long as we have in Boston — but one can’t forget that Lord Stanley’s hardware hasn’t been raised in the City of Brotherly Love since Clarke was the team’s captain in 1975.
Fans have about 48 hours to hit the reset button and prepare for more playoff hockey. Two days to buy more Prilosec and brace for the agita that comes with these grind-it-out affairs.
The Bruins have to hit their own reset button. They survived a first-round dogfight with the Canadiens, moving on by the thinnest of margins. A deflected Nathan Horton shot saved the season and may have also saved Claude Julien‘s job.
The B’s live to fight another day, and long-suffering hockey fans in Boston can smile and look forward to this crazy and emotional roller coaster lasting at least two more weeks.
“That was a nice reward for our fans,” said a relieved Julien after the game. “They’ve been punished enough.”
In the end, it was the Canadiens who were punished.
Punished when Roman Hamrlik stayed down on the ice hoping to get a penalty call while Chris Kelly stayed on his feet, stayed with the play and gave the Bruins the lead.
They were punished when Horton scored his second OT goal of his his first NHL playoff series.
And just like that, the Bruins won their first Game 7 since 1994. A hockey monkey — no, a hockey gorilla — has been taken off the backs of the Black and Gold.
Of course, there are other demons to slay. The team that lines up against Boston on Saturday is the same one that rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the conference semifinals (and a 3-0 deficit in Game 7) to beat the B’s last year. Julien won’t need to go far to find material for his motivational speech this weekend.
Beating the Habs (known in Boston as the Canadian Dive Team) at home is pretty sweet, but if Julien and the B’s want to reward the fans around here, they’ll have to go deeper into the playoffs — much deeper. The past two weeks only put the Bruins at the starting line of the second round, the round where Cup hopes have died in the Hub for two straight seasons.
This is the hockey version of the 2004 Red Sox postseason. The “Greatest Comeback in History” dumped the New York Yankees and gave us some of the greatest thrills of our lives as fans. But how would we have felt if the Sox lost to St. Louis in the World Series?
To break the curse, the Sox had to continue their mission. Continue they did, with four straight wins against the overwhelmed Cardinals.
Now, the Bruins must continue their mission. The memories of the last two weeks will last a long time, but the work must not stop here.