The most difficult task is finding an explanation for what happened last night at the Garden. So honestly, let’s not even bother. Who cares that a team that had scored three goals in its previous 170 minutes scored four goals in 17 minutes? Who cares that those four goals (remember, IN 17 MINUTES) were more than the team had scored total in 35 of 47 regular season games? Who cares that the Bruins just became the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 after trailing by three goals in the third period?
Well, OK. We all care. I’m just saying: What happened between the Bruins and Leafs last night is perfect on the surface. There’s no need to get bogged down in the science behind a full double rainbow when it’s so much more satisfying to just sit back and get lost in the magic:
Oh MY GOD! Ohhhh! Nathan Horton! It’s so bright! Milan Lucic! It’s so beautiful! Patrice Bergeron! Patrice Bergeron! Ahahahahaha!!”
Heading into Game 7, the big question around Boston was: Which Bruins team will show up? The inconsistent, emotionally-shallow crew that blew a 3-1 series lead? The same guys who bowed out at home to a similarly inferior team a year ago last month?
Or the Big Bad Bruins — the squad that still existed somewhere deep inside this group’s collective conscious. The team that dominated the NHL for the first month of the season, out-classed Toronto over the first four games of the series and was only two years (and not too many personnel changes) removed from raising the Stanley Cup.
Which would it be: 2011 or 2012?
The answer was both, and thankfully, not in that order. But the Bruins didn’t stop there. Over the course of their improbable win, they channeled the 2004 Yankees (asleep at the wheel in Game 7, on the verge of an epic choke) and the 2002 Celtics (an unfathomable playoff comeback). They channeled the Snow Bowl — I can’t imagine a more historic Boston sporting event that unfolded after so many fans had walked out of the stadium. They channeled Gordon Bombay’s Mighty Ducks and every laughable Hollywood comeback in sports movie history. They did all that and then some, and in the process, changed hockey and the world of sports forever.
Yeah, I know. That last line might be a little much, but it’s true. The same way that the 2004 Sox left an eternity of “Well, the Red Sox did it . . .” whispers every time a team falls into a 3-0 playoff hole, so will these Bruins instill another layer of faith in the hearts of NHL fans everywhere; even the good people of Toronto (that is, once the smelling salts kick in).
The next time, and every time, a Game 7 goes wrong and a team heads to the third period with seemingly zero hope, the Bruins will provide some. You better believe the graphic will be up on the screen, those whispers will be scattered throughout the crowd and at some point, on both benches, whether it’s as a stern warning or a last-ditch motivational tactic, you’ll hear the coaches say those words: Remember the 2013 Bruins.
And here in Boston, we always will.
But for now, the real question is: What’s next?
A few weeks back, we watched the Celtics mount an almost historic comeback in the same building that the Bruins pulled off their miracle last night. We saw them catch the Knicks sleeping and make a run long after everyone had given up, but even if the Celtics had made good on that madness, they were just delaying the inevitable. Whether it was a Game 7 defeat at MSG, a spanking from the Pacers or uncomfortable beat down at the hands of the Heat, the Celtics had pretty much tapped out their potential.
But Bruins potential still knows no bounds. They’ve survived their worst, and have given life to their best. Last night’s piece of history only opens the door for more history.
And while the B’s are sure to encounter more than their fair share of ups and down over the extent of this playoff run, there’s no way they can get any lower than they were last night which means that Boston can’t justify anything less than believing.
That somehow last night’s double rainbow can help propel this core to double up on the Stanley Cup.