CHICAGO – Cam Neely admitted that both he and Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney experienced a little déjà vu while watching the Bruins and Blackhawks battle it out into triple overtime in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
That’s because 23 years ago both Neely and Sweeney were Bruins players in the longest Cup Finals game in NHL history, and dropped a triple overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers in a 3-2 loss in Game 1 of the 1990 Cup Finals.
Petr Klima famously scored that overtime goal after B’s defenseman Glen Wesley had missed an open net, and that opened up the floodgates for the Oilers to storm the Black and Gold in a five-game series victory. The 1990 Cup Finals loss for the Bruins was 1 hour, 55 minutes and 13 seconds while Wednesday night’s defeat ranked as the fifth longest game in Cup Finals history at one hour, 52 minutes and eight seconds.
The exhaustive ice time totals, the action up and down the ice as systems finally broke down in a track meet on the ice and the goaltenders standing on their heads all brought back familiar nods to Neely and Sweeney. They seemed to know exactly what this current crop of Bruins players was going through, and what they must do in order to bounce back for Game 2.
“Don Sweeney and I were talking during the overtime. We had some chances to finish it off just like we did way back when. Yeah, you certainly have some flashbacks,” said Neely. “You always look back and think about things you may have been able to do differently, but one of my lines I talk to myself about, and that I’ve said in the past, is 'my rearview mirror is broken.’ There's no point rehashing that because you can't change the past.
"It's always tough to lose in triple-overtime like that, is what I remember. But you're in the Stanley Cup Finals, so it wasn't really mentally tough to recover from that. Physically it was the same for both teams."
The two things Neely remembered more than anything else about the game: Bill Ranford holding strong as the Oilers goaltender and Wesley flipping the backhanded shot over the crossbar. Bruins players like Kaspars Daugavins, Tyler Seguin and David Krejci had their own chances to end things for the Bruins before Andrew Show notched the game-winning tip, but the Bruins President said this current edition of the Bruins is a far cry from the Black and Gold team he played on 23 years ago.
“These guys have been here before. Not in a triple overtime, but we’ve got basically the same team as we did from 2011. They lost both of those first two games on the road, but then came back to win the Cup,” said Neely. “They’ve got the experience, and they can feed of that experience.
“We all feel confident with our group. We had a pretty comeback in the first round as you all know, and we’ve had some pretty good experiences in previous playoff appearances as well.”
In the 1990 Cup Finals the Bruins got stormed in Game 2 after losing the triple overtime game, and lost a 7-2 decision to the Oilers en route to dropping the best-of-seven series. This current Bruins team has proven to be a different breed in a lot of ways over the last six years, and rebounding for a strong Game 2 on Saturday night would be just another example.