Bruins Cement Themselves as Serial Chokers in Latest Collapse

It has been a few days since the Boston Bruins completed their epic collapse to the Florida Panthers, and it is still hard to believe that it happened. This was a team that put together the best regular season in NHL history, and they blew a 3-1 series lead to a club that had 43 fewer points than them. This will forever be remembered as one of the greatest failures in NHL history, but at the same time, perhaps it could have been predicted when looking at the Bruins’ track record since their 2011 Stanley Cup win.

Linus Ullmark Boston Bruins
Linus Ullmark, Boston Bruins (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Although the Toronto Maple Leafs tend to get the most heat from opposing fans for their now-exorcised first-round curse, the Bruins have had a significant amount of collapses since their last Stanley Cup win. As a result, I’d argue that this latest postseason failure from the Bruins has earned them the title of being serial chokers. Disagree? Let’s look at their most embarrassing playoff moments since their last Stanley Cup win that effectively display this.

2013 Stanley Cup Final – 17 Seconds

Heading into the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, the Bruins were viewed as the underdogs. The Chicago Blackhawks had a spectacular shortened season in 2012-13, as they sported a 36-7-5 record and won the Presidents’ Trophy. As a result, if they had lost to them in a normal fashion, it would have still stung but also been understandable. Yet, all Bruins fans know how that series ended.

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In Game 6, the Bruins had a 2-1 lead with just over a minute left of regulation. However, in a span of just 17 seconds, Tuukka Rask would allow goals to Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland – which led to Boston losing the Stanley Cup Final on home ice. This would not be the only massive game that the Bruins would lose on home ice as the years rolled on.

2014 Presidents’ Trophy Season – Blow Series to Biggest Rival

Although the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup Final in such an egregious fashion in 2013, they bounced back quite nicely during the 2013-14 regular season. They finished the campaign with an excellent 54-19-9 record and won the Presidents’ Trophy. Many viewed them as the favorites heading into the 2014 Stanley Cup Final because of this, but they could not get the job done.

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The Bruins avoided a first-round collapse in 2014, but their playoff run ended in the second round against their biggest rival – the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins losing to the Canadiens is a tale as old as time, but this year stung differently, as they were the far superior team on paper but simply blew it. It also did not help that they had a 3-2 series lead and lost another crucial Game 7 on home ice.

2019: Bruins Lose Another Stanley Cup Final at Home

The 2019 Stanley Cup Final will certainly be remembered as one of the biggest letdowns in Bruins franchise history. Unlike in their series against the Blackhawks, the Bruins were viewed as major favorites against the St. Louis Blues. However, due to inconsistent play, they were forced to play a Game 7 at TD Garden and well, you know the rest.

Alex Pietrangelo St. Louis Blues 2019 Stanley Cup
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues, 2019 Stanley Cup (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Bruins put together a lackadaisical effort and the fate of the game was determined in the first period. They allowed two goals in the first period and failed to score until late into the third period when the contest was all but over. Perhaps what stung the most about this specific series was that they lost to Jordan Binnington, a then-career American Hockey League (AHL) goalie who played for the Providence Bruins in 2017-18.

2020: Another Presidents’ Trophy Disappointment

The Bruins had a strong 2019-2020 regular season that saw them sport a 44-14-12 record and win the Presidents’ Trophy. However, it is also important to note that the season was suspended early due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The league resumed play in August 2020, and it would turn out to be another postseason of disappointment for the Bruins.

Rask left the playoff bubble after two games due to a family emergency, and Jaroslav Halak took over in the net. The veteran netminder helped them get by the Carolina Hurricanes, but in Bruins playoff fashion, they would fall to the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second round in just five games. Losing Rask did not help, of course, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners were outmatched in all aspects by the eventual Stanley Cup champions.

2023: Best Regular-Season Team Ever Blows 3-1 Series Lead

Although the Bruins have had some major collapses, I believe that this year takes the cake as the biggest embarrassment in franchise history. General manager (GM) Don Sweeney built one of the deepest rosters ever after his excellent trade deadline, and the Bruins still could not get it done. Sure, they won 65 games, set several records, and were the best regular-season team of all time. That ultimately does not matter now after blowing a 3-1 series lead and losing in the first round.

Matthew Tkachuk Florida Panthers Linus Ullmark Boston Bruins
Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers scores the game winning goal on Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins during overtime in Game 5 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

They had three opportunities to knock out a Panthers team that was significantly behind them in the standings during the regular season. However, after Linus Ullmark‘s costly turnover in Game 5, Boston was never able to bounce back and regain control of the series Instead, they played the worst hockey of the year when it mattered most, and now their season is over because of it.

Related: Bruins News & Rumors: Epic Collapse & Changes to Come

Now, we enter an offseason where the Bruins are going to go through many changes. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci both could retire. The Bruins have several pending unrestricted free agents (UFA) like Tyler Bertuzzi, Dmitry Orlov, Nick Foligno, Connor Clifton, Garnet Hathaway, and Tomas Nosek, and their limited cap space will make them lose multiple of them. As a result, this felt like their last chance with this group, and they did not even come close to getting the job done.

At the end of the day, there is a difference between losing and losing the way the Bruins always seem to do. We will need to wait and see if they redeem themselves with an expected weaker roster in 2023-24.