Boston Bruins

Banged up Bergeron can't cash in on OT chance

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Banged up Bergeron can't cash in on OT chance

Patrice Bergeron gave it everything he could.

The Bruins two-way center was taking it the hardest of almost anybody as he stood and discussed the season being over after the Bruins had dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Washington Capitals, and perhaps with good reason. Bergeron played through nagging injuries during the year including a slapper off the knee in a road game against the Penguins that couldnt even knock him out for a game and had a final upper-body issue that nagged at him in the final two plus games of Bostons first round defeat against the Caps.

Bergeron didnt want to discuss the specifics of the injury in the postgame locker room, and instead wanted to work through the emotions of loss, despair and emptiness that always arrive for the Bs assistant captain. He made it through 19:53 of ice time and a couple of shots on net along with another successful face-off, but it was more readily apparent in Game 7 that the injury was affecting him as he uncharacteristically lost one-on-one battles all over the ice thats usually his domain.

I dont want to use that tonight. Ill let you guys know. I dont want to talk about it right now if you guys dont mind, said Bergeron. Obviously on the checkout day on Friday Ill let you guys know.

It was a little better but not much better. Like I said I dont want to use that as an excuse right now. Its a tough one to swallow and I really dont want to put that on an injury. Im not the only one that goes through that stuff.

In the cruel twist of fate from the hockey gods, they saw fit to hand a weakened Bergeron the chance to win it right out of overtime. Dennis Seidenberg rifled a shot that hand-cuffed Braden Holtby before it bounced to Bergeron crashing the net just 45 seconds into the overtime session.

The puck was bouncing wildly in front of the Bs center masquerading as a right wing due to injury, and he tried to corral as best he could wincing all the way. Instead Bergeron wobbled a shot wide of the largely-vacant net to the left side and the TD Garden fans groaned knowing that theyd frittered away a golden scoring opportunity in the extra session.

It kind of exploded just rolled on my stick and the puck was bouncing, said Bergeron. I just tried to go quick because obviously there wasnt a lot of time and the puck wouldnt settle.

You look at all the overtime goals in this series, its always like that. Its a tough break or a lucky bounce and the other team doesnt get that. I think thats what it is. It was overtime and its one shot.

In the end Bergeron was just another member of the Bruins that was banged up and less than 100 percent of himself at the end of a long, challenging season for the reigning Stanley Cup champs. But No. 37 can hold his head high that he answered the bell at every turn even when things got tough and more than a little wince-worthy this season.

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Bruins have just as good a chance as the Celtics do this season (which is small)

Dan Shaughnessy ran a piece this week calling the Bruins the No. 4 team in town these days. He wasn’t wrong. They are. 

Of course, the claim isn’t really a discussion about the Patriots or Red Sox, as they’ll always be the two most popular teams in town. It’s about the Bruins being behind the Celtics, which again, they are. 

Yet while the general premise of the story was correct, there was an issue to be taken with the piece. Shaughnessy wrote that, “In terms of overall interest and championship hopes, [the Bruins] are a distant fourth.”

That’s where he’s wrong. Nobody would argue against the Celtics garnering more interest (even if the Bruins might have a stronger fanbase), but championship hopes? The teams are deadlocked. 

The Celtics are one of the top teams in a league in which only one team (the Warriors) has a chance. The Bruins are a middle-of-the-pack team in a league in which the literal last team in the playoffs (the No. 16 seed Predators) went to the Stanley Cup Final last season. 
 
This isn’t about which team is better, because that’s not close. The Celtics have three All-Stars in their starting five and the third overall picks from each of the last two drafts. They’ve also got one of the best coaches in the league. 

It’s also not about who will likely go farther. The Celtics will at the very least reach the Eastern Conference finals. The issue is that they’ll then either be eliminated by the Cavaliers or earn the opportunity to perhaps get swept by the Warriors in the Finals. 

That leaves the Celtics with a certainty of a very good season, but also close to an impossibility of a championship season. 

As for the Bruins, they probably won’t be much better than they were last season, if at all. This season was always the one to watch in the Sweeney era, as it will see the biggest implementation of the young players drafted. There should be at least four Sweeney draft picks on the team this year (Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson), plus youngsters from the Chiarelli era still pushing for jobs. 

The biggest change figures to be on the back end, where the Bruins should have the best top-four they’ve had since Sweeney dealt Dougie Hamilton. A lot of that rides on McAvoy, but there remains hope on the back end in future seasons with Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril trying to eventually break in. 

Will the Bruins rule their division the way the Celtics will? Most likely not. The guess here is that Tampa and Montreal will finish ahead of teams like Boston, Ottawa and Toronto. 

Yet there isn’t a Cleveland or a Golden State waiting to swallow up whoever does emerge throughout the playoffs, and that’s what leaves the Bruins and Celtics with equal chances at a title. The Penguins have won back-to-back titles, but the Bruins have gone 4-1-1 against them in the regular season the last two years. They’re hardly the unstoppable force that exists in Golden State. 

So in terms of buzz, offseason moves and anticipation for a new season? Sure, the Celtics have it all over the B’s. I’m certainly way more excited for basketball season. When it comes to championship hopes, however, the B’s and C’s are no different. 

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