BOSTON — These were a good chunk of the comments spewing from several million mouths at around 9:15 p.m., at the numerous Boston Bruins Game 7 viewing parties last night.
“Fire Claude Julien.”
“Fire Peter Chiarelli.”
“(Zdeno) Chara is too old.”
“Why don’t the Bruins get players like Phil Kessel?”
“Tyler Seguin is an overrated.”
“The Bruins are chokers.”
“Tuukka Rask will never be as good as Tim Thomas.”
“The Bruins were lucky to win the Stanley Cup.”
In other words, the Bruins Bandwagon, which this franchise worked so hard and so methodically to rebuild after nearly a decade of ineptitude and early post-season exits, was nearly empty.
The Bruins trailed 4-1 and there were lines walking up the stairways and, quite frankly, nobody could blame them.
Less than an hour later, well, the Bruins that owned the hearts of this region during the spring and early summer of 2011 were up to their old tricks again.
Three goals (two in 31 seconds) in less than eight minutes, finishing off one of the greatest playoff comebacks in NHL history, and the Bruins jumped on the right side of that fine line of winning and losing.
“I can’t explain it,” said Bruins forward Brad Marchand, when asked to explain three goals scored with Rask pulled over the last two nights, not to mention the goal by Nathan Horton to close the gap to 4-2 with 10:42 left in the game and Patrice Bergeron’s overtime winner.
“We always play our best when we are desperate,” Marchand said. “It’s dangerous. We don’t really want to be in that scenario often.”
If the Bruins comeback fell one goal short or Rask gave up a “softie” in overtime last night, make no bones about it; changes would have been made. Big changes.
Consecutive first round Game 7 losses at the T.D. Garden, with most of the same roster that won the Stanley Cup in 2011, would not have cut it. This is not your father’s or Harry Sinden’s Bruins. This is one of New England’s favorite teams and these fans aren’t so gullible any more. In fact, according to television ratings, this “Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde” group is as popular as the champs from two years ago.
Let’s be honest, the pressure was on last night. The Stanley Cup hangover was over. So was the honeymoon. A loss last night and, well, the Bruins, as we know them, were going to look very different next October.
It probably explains the out-of-control celebration by Rask, who pretty much plays the position with an 8,000-pound gorilla on his shoulders — he is pretty much sick and tired of hearing about Thomas’ Conn Smythe Trophy from being named the top player in the 2011 playoffs.
“Even the Pope would be excited,” said Rask.
Next on the docket is the New York Rangers and no doubt seven more games, with some of the same jobs and reputations on the line.
“We have a long way to go,” said Bergeron, whose two goals last night were his third and fourth of the playoffs. “The first (round) is a tough one to go through.”
One thing nobody probably said at 9:15 p.m. is that this Bruins team not only has experience for this kind of craziness, but they have some character, too.
We will find out how much very soon.
You can email Bill Burt at firstname.lastname@example.org.