By Rich Levine
In the 39 years since the Bruins last won it all, the Stanley Cup Finals have gone the distance seven times. But of those seven series, only two played out as systematically as this years classic between the Bs and Canucks.
The first was in 2003: New Jersey Devils vs. Gordon Bombays Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. In that series, the Devils took the first two games at home, before losing the next two on the road. They won Game 5 at home, lost Game 6 on the road and the teams headed into Game 7 with neither having won on the other's ice.
The same thing happened in 2009, when the Red Wings took a 2-0 lead at home against the Penguins, before the series fell into that same rare but predictable pattern.
One were all pretty sick of here in Boston.
Over the last two weeks the Bruins and Canucks have played one series on two very different planes. Theres the Vancouver series, where the Bruins sticks go soft and Tim Thomas gambles with the success rate of Antoine Walker. In Vancouver, the Canucks are mentally tougher and find greater strength in the biggest moments; they dictate the action. Meanwhile, Roberto Luongo turns into Patrick Roy (but still looks like Jean Girard from Talladega Nights). The Bruins havent played poorly north of the border, but for one reason or another, theyve never played well enough to win.
Then theres the Boston series. In Boston, the Bruins are unbeatable. The games are so one-sided that you wonder (regardless of whether theyre playing in Boston, Vancouver or Mars) how the Bs could ever lose. Theyre a better team in every facet of the game. Theyre the best team in the league.
But unfortunately, you know the deal. Tonight, with everything on the line, the Bruins wont have the luxury of home ice. Instead, theyll get a fourth chance to win a Stanley Cup road game; a chance bestowed on only two other teams in the last 40 years. Can they do it? Can they break the cycle?
The Ducks couldnt. In 2003, they rode into Game 7 on the back of super goalie Jean Sebastian Giguere (who stepped into the starting role after Goldberg got the chicken pox), but fell to the Devils, 3-0. And if were being honest, no one would be shocked if the Bruins experienced a similar fate.
As great as the entire city feels after the latest Boston beatdown, weve been here before. We know how things change up in Canada, and that as great as the Bruins looked on Monday, the Canucks are apt to look even better tonight. Just like the Bruins, Vancouvers a different team at home. And that home-ice advantage theyve thrived on so far? Tonight it will reach its apex. Game 7 will be louder and crazier than anything the Bruins have ever faced.
Throughout NHL history, road teams are a combined 3-12 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup. Regardless of what happens in the previous six games, its always rare for the road team to go home happy. And when you talk about the seven Game 7's since the Bruins last won? The road team is 1-6.
But when you talk about that one, the one team that defied the odds and reached the Promise Land on an opponents ice?
Youre talking about the 2009 Pittsburgh Penguins.
A team that spent an entire series proving that they couldnt get it done at the Red Wings' rink, but in the end only reminded us of an important lesson.
When it comes to Game 7, you can cite all the facts you want. You can hark back to history, both ancient and recent. You can find every single logical reason why something might or should or will likely happen and stick to those guns like theyre smothered in Luongos greasy hair gel.
But if you do, youre missing the boat.
Because when it comes down to it, Game 7 isnt a time to be realistic. Its not about logic. Its not a time to care about whats happened, because moving forward, anything can happen. Game 7 is Rams-Patriots in 2002. Its Patriots-Giants in 2008. Its every single upset in the history of March Madness. Its stupid. Its illogical. Its . . .
So lets just cut loose and get lost in the moment, instead of the details of last two weeks.
The Bruins are 60 minutes away from their first Stanley Cup title in 39 years, and who knows how long it will be until they get this close again.