The Boston Bruins season has come to an end, and no one quite expected it to end like this.
The New York Islanders sealed the deal with a 6-2 win in Game 6, defeating the Bruins 4-2 to advance in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But once you get beyond the shock of the loss, you realize how many questions the Bruins have to answer this offseason, and it begs the question: will this veteran Bruins core be able to get another crack at a deep run?
It weighs on Patrice Bergeron.
“I mean it does in a way,” the Bruins captain said after the loss over Zoom. “That core is getting getting older in one year to the next and it’s disappointing that way, you know, that you have a good team. You have opportunities and you know they don’t come that often. Especially later in your career and you want to make the most of it. So, it’s, you know, you take it a year at a time and we’ll see what happens.”
What next year looks like, though, is to be seen.
Tuukka Rask, who is a free agent this offseason, is a major unknown for next year after admitting surgery may be a possibility after playing in the postseason with an injury. The starting goalkeeper has been with the team since a 2007 trade, but never has played a game in the NHL with any other club.
For him and the rest of Boston’s core, like Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Krejci who all were around for the 2011 Stanley Cup title run, they can’t help but feel like the window is closing.
“Well I think it’s the same answer as every year,” Rask said. “We’re all getting older and we’re not going to last forever, so it’s definitely closing at some point, for sure. But we have great leadership, great veteran guys and we try to build a new team every year and come together.”
Sure. But fact remains that everyone involved anticipated a deeper run, because Boston certainly was capable.
“It’s disappointing,” Marchand said following the loss. “We expected a longer run in this room, you know? We felt like we had a group that could go really deep this year.”
Marchand turned 33 years old in May. Rask is 34. Bergeron and Krejci are 35. They provided great veteran leadership for a young and exciting group, just as they did during Boston’s last run to the finals in 2019.
But this season, things felt like they came to an end prematurely, but you can’t take a season or a team for granted when the group feels special.
“I think the biggest thing that I learned kind of coming from being a young guy to an older guy now is, Bergy mentioned it earlier, is that opportunities where you have a good team where you really feel like you have an opportunity to win, they don’t come along very often,” Marchand said. “And I think as you get older you really realize how hard it is to win a Cup and to get there and what it takes, and I just think that’s the biggest thing is you can’t take any opportunity for granted.”
“Which is why, again, this is a tough one to lose because we really felt that we had a good group to make a good run this year.”