The Boston Bruins joined an elite group of professional sports teams they really didn’t want to be part of on Sunday night.
The Bruins, after a historically great season, blew a 3-1 series lead and fell to the Florida Panthers in their opening-round playoff series on Sunday. The Panthers, thanks to a 4-3 overtime win, will now advance to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs in the next round.
The Bruins set the NHL record for most wins in a season with 65 and most points in a single season with 135. They won the Presidents Trophy, and were overwhelming favorites to lift the Stanley Cup this summer.
That dream is gone.
"The way it ended didn't matter. It's just that the season's over,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said, via ESPN. “I guess the words that come to mind right now are disappointment and confusion.”
Bruins are the latest team to fall in wild upset
This won’t provide much comfort to Boston fans, but the Bruins aren’t alone in what happened Sunday night.
There are plenty of other examples in professional sports in the United States of teams who were just as good as the Bruins, yet they failed to convert that success into a championship.
Let’s start with the 1906 Chicago Cubs. While that’s more than a century ago, those Cubs had 116 regular-season wins. That was 20 more than the second-best New York Giants. Yet the Cubs fell to the Chicago White Sox 4-2 in the World Series that year.
There’s several more recent examples, too.
The Seattle Mariners won 116 regular-season Major League Baseball games in 2001, yet they fell to the New York Yankees 4-1 in the ALCS. That actually sparked a two-decade long postseason drought, which became the longest in professional sports before the Mariners made it back to the playoffs last year.
The New England Patriots went a perfect 16-0 during the 2007 NFL season. But after reaching the Super Bowl, Tom Brady and the Patriots fell 17-14 to Eli Manning and the New York Giants.
The Golden State Warriors went 73-9 during the 2015-16 NBA season, which snapped the 72-win mark that the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls set with Michael Jordan. The Bulls won the championship in 1996. The Warriors, however, fell to the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.
Here’s the good news for Boston fans. In three of those four examples, franchises found success pretty quickly after their historic stumbles. The Cubs won back-to-back World Series titles after their loss to the White Sox, and the Warriors won consecutive NBA titles after their loss to the Cavaliers. The Patriots reached five more Super Bowls, and won three of them, since the 2007 season. Only the Mariners are the outlier in that group.
It may be a small sample size, but history is on the Bruins’ side.