Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
It seemed impossible.
Up 3-0, the Bruins seemed like they had the Flyers in a stranglehold in Game 7 of a series that they led 3-0 before frittering that lead down to nonexistence. They were, in every way, dominant, playing like the Bruins that went up three games and swept up a city in Tuukkamania.
And then they saw it slip through their fingers. Just like they blew the 3-0 series lead, they blew the 3-0 Game 7 lead and in doing so suffered what is, without hyperbole, the biggest collapse in the history of sports.
Only three other teams have blown a 3-0 deficit: The 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins and the 2004 New York Yankees, and none of them were as horrid and therefore wildly entertaining as the Bruins' collapse.
Some (Boston fans, mostly) might argue the Red Sox toppling the Yankees is far more embarrassing than this, given the emphatic way the Yankees won Game 3. But they would be wrong. The Sox had the third-best record in baseball in 2004, and after they came back in Games 4 and 5, Games 6 and 7 were rarely in doubt.
Similarly, the Islanders were a three-seed in '75, and the Leafs finished three points back of the Rangers for the President's Trophy in '42. These weren't exactly underdogs grinding out Team of Destiny-type wins.
(COMING UP: Rumors of Jeff Carter's(notes) return; Thornton's disappearance coming?; Sean Avery(notes), Aaron Voros(notes) and Lindsay Lohan walk into a bar; Antti Niemi(notes) is good; and referee gaffe helps Blackhawks.)
The Flyers, on the other hand, snuck into the playoffs thanks to a shootout win on the last day of the season. They were the 18th-best team in the league this season. For the Bruins to cough up not only a three-game lead, but a three-goal lead as well, to a team that had a season like these Flyers, playing with a backup goalie and a few stars sidelined with injuries? Well, that's just fantastic.
And the way it happened is almost too humorous for words. Not only blowing a 3-0 lead at home, mind you, but giving up the fourth goal on a power play following a penalty for too many men, caused by Marc Savard(notes) of everyone on the roster asking for a change and then not changing. You couldn't script a more maddening way for a team to lose a game of this gravity.
Obviously I revel in schadenfreude of any kind, and for this to have happened to the city in which I live, well, I literally couldn't ask for more. Boston sports fans have a richly deserved reputation for hopping on and jumping off the bandwagons of the region's various sports teams, then claiming they've loved that team all along. That's why the groan following Simon Gagne's(notes) series-winner in my favorite local bar (where I often had to fight to get Bruins games put on the TVs instead of Monday Night Football pre-game shows on mute just six months ago) was perhaps the funniest sound I've ever heard.
It'll be a long, fretful summer in Boston, tempered only slightly by that whole "No. 2 pick" thing. But hey, at least the Bruins made history.
WHAT WE LEARNED
(WWL will, for the remainder of the postseason, only cover the teams still playing hockey. Any news of note involving the other teams will be dealt with below in Loserwatch 2010.)
Chicago Blackhawks: Perhaps the most impressive thing about the Blackhawks' 2-1 win in San Jose on Sunday is the fact that they did it without the benefit of a single power play. Said the level-headed Patrick Sharp(notes):
"The refs do a good job out there. They're not siding with one team. They made the calls they had to make and we're fine with that. We'll continue to work hard and use our speed, so hopefully we can draw a few next game."
Even despite the five power plays to its none, Chicago still put 40 shots on net to San Jose's 45, which tells you just how much they carried play 5-on-5.
Montreal Canadiens: Not a good night for Jaroslav Halak(notes). Four goals on 13 shots. Pulled less than halfway through the game. The goodnews, though, is that he gave up five on 20 in the first game of the Pittsburgh series and that worked out for the best. Of course, if he doesn't steal Game 2, it's officially time to panic in Montreal.
Philadelphia Flyers: What is with this insane insistence that Jeff Carter will be back for Game 2? In the last few days, I've read he's outfor the series, out for the first few games, and readyto make an nWo-style run-in, hit Hal Gill(notes) with a chair and spray paint a yellow stripe down his back. Everyone is quoting sources, either denying or confirming this stupidity. The guy was apparently hobbling around on crutches Sunday. No one knows what to think. No one has the scoop. Don't listen if they tell you they do.
San Jose Sharks:Some tough facts for the Sharks already. Their big line was on the ice for both of Chicago's goals and was caught with its pants down running a set play on Dustin Byfuglien's(notes) game-winner. Those three guys, then,were a combined minus-6 last night. Joe Thornton's(notes) a minus-8 for the playoffs. I know it's not fair through one game, but they have to have a big Game 2 if they want to keep the "JOE THORNTON IN THE PLAYOFFS LOL" wolves away from their doors.
Here is a pretty nice article about the proliferation of Vancouver Canucks blogs and hockey blogs in general. And the lede has a reference to writing in basements, which is cutting-edge stuff. ... Sean Avery and Aaron Voros got into a bit of a dustup with Lindsay Lohan of all people. I don't know what to make of that. ... Later Monday the Washington Capitals will announce a long-term extension for Nicklas Backstrom(notes). High $6 millions, probably around 10 years. ... Know who can't be happy about the Flyers beating the Bruins? The Anaheim Ducks. They have Philly's first-round pick this year, and with that loss, the spot dropped from No. 15 to No. 27-30. ... The New Jersey Devils signed two prospects that might just be NHL-ready. ... Article title: "Evgeni Malkin is Overrated." It's pretty damning. ... The Oilers held their annual Locker Room Sale last weekend. Some guy from Fort Saskatchewan scored a trainer and two equipment managers for next to nothing.
PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
Holy moly this save!
GOLD STAR AWARD
Yeah, so Antti Niemi had a pretty good Game 1. He saw 45 shots, including 14 on San Jose's power plays, and allowed just one goal. Pretty emphatic way to get your series off on the right foot, especially in a road game.
MINUS OF THE WEEKEND
You know, it really shouldn't be that hard. Guy in a shirt with a big "36" on the back commits a tripping penalty inside of a minute to go. So how does the guy whose shirt says "32" on it end up serving it? At least it's not like Dave Bolland(notes), who should have been in the box, is second among Blackhawks forwards in shorthanded TOI. Oh he is? Oh jeez.
I didn't even know there was a cabin he wasn't taking me to.