Benjamin Franklin once profoundly pointed out that there are only two guarantees in life––death and taxes. But Mr. Franklin failed to acknowledge a third guarantee: no professional sports team will ever choke away a 3-0 lead in a playoff series. Of course, if this were true, then he would have been proven wrong by the 1942 Detroit Red Wings, the ‘75 Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2004 New York Yankees, and the newest member to the most dreaded list in sports, the 2010 Boston Bruins.
And as it is with most historical moments in sports, you couldn’t have written a more compelling and ironic script in the case of the Eastern Conference Semi-finals series between the Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bruins, who cruised to an early, all-too comfortable 3-0 series lead, could only watch in despondency as the final seconds ticked away from the TD Garden jumbo-tron in game 7.
The game ended as a painful microcosm of the entire series. The Bruins came out hard and fast, throwing around their weight and blitzing the stunned Flyers with three first period goals. Michael Ryder started off the scoring with a seeing-eye shot that beat Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton low to the five-hole. The Bruins kept up the pressure as Milan Lucic scored consecutive goals to give the B’s a commanding 3-0 lead. But before they could get out of the period with their three goal lead, a change-up wrister fooled Burins netminder Tuukka Rask. And the meltdown was on.
The second period was a complete reverse from the first. The Bruins obviously forgot that they were on the verge of one of the worst choke-jobs in professional sports history as the Flyers came out with a vengeance, getting goals from Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere. And just like that, the Bruins saw the series unfold right before their very eyes: a quick 3-0 lead had evaporated and they found themselves knotted up with the Flyers at 3-3.
Then, midway through the third period, the Bruins committed an unforgivable sin by being called for a too-many-men penalty. Simon Gagne poured the salt in the open wound of the Bruins with a nasty top-shelf wrister over the blocker of Rask. And then, before they knew it, the buzzer rang and now Boston’s season has come to a hellacious end.
No hockey player ever wants to know the feeling of what could have been after a tough loss in a playoff series. But there is no amount summer golf that will alleviate what the Boston Bruins must be going though right now. 2011 cannot get here soon enough.