FanPost

Just one more win.



I am a Boston Bruins fan. I am a 20 year old college student at Northeastern University, where at Matthews Arena, they hang a banner that says "ORIGINAL HOME OF THE BOSTON BRUINS 1924-1928." Since I was born (March of 1991), the Bruins have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals just once. That was in 1992, where they were eliminated in a sweep. They have not been closer than 8 wins away from the Stanley Cup since before I was born.
I’m a fan of all of Boston’s sports teams, even the Revolution. I’m also a fan of the EPL’s Sunderland Black Cats, NASCAR drivers Bobby Labonte and Kyle Busch, and USA for anything international. However, the Boston Bruins come first. If they’re on, I’m watching them, unless one of the other teams is in a playoff game at the same time. Playoffs, no matter the sport, come first.
For the Bruins, though, a whole new set of rules applies. The Boston Red Sox season has not started for me yet, nor will it start until Boston Bruins’ playoffs are over.

I have been a Bruins fan since before I can remember. This is not hyperbole; my mom tells practically everyone a story I can’t remember a moment of. Apparently, at the ripe age of three years old, likely during the labor strike, or just after it ended, I met Stephan Quintal and Lyndon Byers at the Burlington Mall during an autograph signing. They quizzed me on the Bruins lineup, and I aced every name and number. They pulled me aside, and waited for Raymond Bourque to arrive. He did shortly, and they quizzed me again. Ray Bourque then asked me a number that I did not recognized; it was for a player they had just signed or called up that morning. My retort was, "Well, if you guys were playing, then I would know this."
One of my earliest pictures is of me at two years old with my cousin of less than a year, posing with Ray Bourque. The picture was signed.
One of my earliest memories was when I was four years old. It was Cam Neely’s last year. I still have a child’s sized CCM jersey with his name and number (though one of the Bear head shoulder patches is practically removed, a little fabric glue will fix it) in my closet. My mother and I took the Lowell train to Wilmington, where we watched the Bruins practice. If I close my eyes, I can still smell the strangely satisfying aroma of the treated ice and hear the shouts of players and coaches, while puck smashes stick and echoes through the tiny arena. After practice, I went and got pictures with Adam Oates and Jozef Stumpel, and got autographs from guys like Don Sweeney and Stevie Heinze. But I wanted a picture with Cam Neely. So my mother did what any parent of a four year old would do; she spotted him getting into his truck across the parking lot, and sprinted over to him, carrying me. With the truck started, I reached up my little hand, and knocked on his window, and waved a camera.
Now, in retelling this story to friends, it sparked an inside joke. One that describes what must have been what I said to my hero when he turned the engine off and opened the door: "lol pic plz im 4 yez owd."
He stepped out of his truck my mom grabbed the camera, and snapped the picture. A couple weeks later, I caught up to him before he got into the truck:
Lolpicplz0001_medium



My only interaction with the current team came last year. It was a cold night in January, just a week after the Winter Classic. By chance, I ended up at North Station, waiting on a train that was due to arrive an hour after the Bruins suffered a rather demoralizing loss to the future Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. As the scattered few fans faded away into the Boston night, slurred and off-key Chelsea Dagger jubilantly hanging in the air behind them, a small group of autograph seekers formulated by the parking lot entrance. I realized this as the first car pulled out, stopped briefly, and sped away down Causeway. Now, I didn’t have any markers, but I couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet and greet a few of the guys I’ve been watching all year. Six players exited before I had to return into the station to catch my train: Marco Sturm, Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara, Derek Morris, and Mark Recchi. Lucic and Thornton took off without signing. And that’s fine; it was a frustrating, 5-1 loss, and both guys are very passionate. However, Sturm, Chara, Morris, and Recchi all signed, and even snapped a few pictures. All of the point-getters (except for Bergeron) in the Winter Classic had now touched and signed the only thing I had on me that was Bruins: my Winter Classic winter hat. They are all class acts in my book, as if I were in their shoes, getting shown up in my own building, wanting nothing more than to be home this late on a cold night, I would have acted more like Lucic (except I probably wouldn’t have had my girlfriend driving).
I was at the old Garden just once, at least from what I can recall. It ended in a 0-0 tie. Never having seen the Bruins score in the Boston Garden makes me feel like I missed a piece of Bruins history.
I don’t remember much after the early 90s, as successes by the Patriots and Red Sox (as an aside, the Red Sox are my #2 team, and my other early memories involve Fenway Park) have blurred my memories. That, and the discovery of the Playstation took up about a bazillion hours of my youth. But I watched from time to time. I watched as Sergei Samsonov and Joe Thornton tried and failed in the early 2000s. I watched as Mike Keenan, the earliest coach I remember behind the Bruins bench, was exonerated in the media for mediocre performance. I watched as Mike Sullivan failed to deliver playoff glory, and Dave Lewis did a spectacular job of attempting to manage talent that was built for the exact opposite of the new NHL. Then Claude Julien came. All that winter, I became more and more enthralled by this team. I could tell that the heart and soul of it had something special. Game 6 against Montreal in the 2008 playoffs re-fired the passions for the team that were buried underneath a decade and a half of misery, mediocrity, video games, and other distractions. I’d watched more intently that year, but from that point on out, I was no longer merely a fan. I was a fanatic again.
2009 stung. Two points shy of the President’s trophy, and you’re down 3-1 against the Carolina Hurricanes? But you came back. You made a game 7. You told me it was okay to believe. Then Scott Walker shows up, and ruins the party. In an instant, the game was lost, the series was lost, and the season became a footnote.
Last year… I don’t even want to talk about it. I felt the exact opposite of what I did after the 04 Red Sox World Series. I felt defeated. Torn. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Bergeron and Chara blowing their defensive assignments in the overtime of game 4; the heartless, shameful embarrassment that was game 5 at home; the dismal gut-punch of a loss that was game 6; but there was still a game 7 to be played. They were leading, 3-0. Everyone was doing their part. They were 42 minutes away from the series I’ve never lived to see.
But Philly scored before the end of the first to make it 3-1. I wanted to shake it off, but doubt started to creep in. I wonder if my mind worked much like the players’ minds, given how flat they came out in the second. Within 15 minutes (in real time, anyway), the game was tied. The series was tied. The building had a quietly angry buzz about it. There was still 34 minutes of hockey to go, and it was a 0-0 game again. We all remember how the rest of the game went.

 

Now? Now, they are one win away from the Stanley Cup.
Seven more wins than I have seen the Bruins reach in my life time. It almost seems surreal. My expectations as the year grew longer became larger and larger; despite the competition around them having records better than the Bruins’, I felt a certain grit and determination of this team that I didn’t in the past couple years. I thought that two years ago was the year. I hoped that last year could be the year. I knew that this year was the year.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
Twenty-eight other teams would love to be in this position. They will not get the chance to be in this position until next year. Neither will we. We only get one chance at it.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
They were down 2-0 to Montreal, dropping them both at home. Never in the 87 year history of the Boston Bruins have they come back from 2 games down. It’s almost unfathomable, especially given that if you don’t have home ice advantage, there’s a decent chance you start down 0-2. But they won the next three, dropped game 6 in Montreal, and gave the Garden a game 7 classic. Ryder’s glove save in the first to keep it even, Thomas’ brilliant save after brilliant save, even Subban’s PP goal, sort of defining the special teams that series. Then overtime. In the first minute and a half, the puck trickled just past Dennis Seidenberg and Tim Thomas, and ominously slides around the edge of the crease, just inches past the post. It was almost unbearable. Three minutes later, Nathan Horton allowed me to breathe again. This team had done what 87 years of Bruins’ greatness could not.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
Next up was the team that tore our heart out last year. They went up 3-0. This was a different 3-0 though. This was a cautiously confident 3-0, not a cocky 3-0. This was a sure thing. This was a sweep.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
The Tampa Bay Lightning were next. By the numbers, Carey Price was the second-best goalie in the playoffs, behind Tim Thomas. The Bruins were about to face another hot goalie in Dwayne Roloson. The Lightning’s special teams play had been spectacular. The Bruins’ was still dismal. The Lightning looked like Montreal circa game 1 during game 1, and won. Their fans were cocky. They thought the series was already over. But the Bruins won the next two. One game was a scoring shootout, and the Bruins scored one more. Tim Thomas’ two worst games were behind him. The next was domination. The Bruins did everything they wanted to do in playing their game. It was sweet. The Finals were in sight.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
But the Lightning would win the next two out of three, as the two teams traded home wins. Mike Smith played valiantly, but lost. The Bruins had beaten a third hot goalie. Game 7 would be back in Boston, back at home, back with the crowd behind them.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
It’s sort of a common perception in the hockey world that Montreal has the most passionate fans. I believed that to be true for a time. It was the one thing I would concede to Habs fans. Now, though, I think it’s a misconception. Montreal fans may be the most numerous, and they’re definitely the most boisterous. However, our fans are the most passionate. Our core fans express contempt to failure and admiration to success. Our true fans are respectable, passionate, and crave the Cup.  I won’t deny that when things are going good, our bandwagon swells like a hot air balloon. But the basket that carries it, contained with our true fans, the people like you and I who frequent Bruins (or in my case, mainly NHL) message boards, and go to meaningless preseason and rookie games, and even check out the Providence team whenever they play in Worcester or Lowell or Manchester or Portland or wherever we live; that basket has the most passion. That basket has lived and waited their whole lives for this day.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
A back and forth game ensued, with the refs "letting them play." It benefitted Boston, for sure, but neither team committed any egregious penalties. There shouldn’t be any complaints about it. Through two periods, Roloson looked good again, and Thomas looked as good as he has all playoffs. Roloson had to make the tougher saves, and he did. But with 7:33 left in the third period, David Krejci went wide, and Nathan Horton drove to the front of the net. The Tampa Bay defense had very few breakdowns, but that was one of them. Krejci slipped a pass underneath a Tampa stick, right onto the tape of Nathan Horton at the top of the crease.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
The crowd was the loudest I’d heard since that Game 6 against Montreal 3 years ago. They were so loud, you couldn’t hear the announcers, or the action on the ice. For the next 7 minutes of hockey time, they cheered every slight action that went the Bruins’ way. Every clearing attempt, every Thomas save, every poke check was met with a raucous cheer. It sounded like that boisterous Montreal crowd. Except there were nearly 5000 less fans in attendance, and the noise was even louder. It’s the hidden passion that we have that comes out like a sabertooth tiger on the hunt. It’s what we save for the biggest moments deep down inside the depths of our soul as a fan. It’s the emotion that shows how much home ice advantage can mean in a game 7 (knock on wood).
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
You sort of forget key moments until you look back on the path that it took to get there. Twice, the Bruins have needed a win in game 5 on home ice, with the series tied 2-2. Twice, during that game, Tim Thomas came up huge. Against Montreal, in the second OT, Thomas went post-to-post to stop what looked to be a sure Montreal goal. Not too long after, the Bruins won. Against Tampa Bay, Thomas dove across the crease late in the third period, as a Steve Downie shot nicked the post and headed in. Thomas didn’t just stop the puck, he forced the damn thing back to the boards. It’s the type of save that will be immortalized if the Bruins win it all.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
The first two games would go to the Canucks. Down 0-2 for the second time this year, after never doing it in the history of the franchise, why should we think that lightning can strike twice? My guess is that we, as fans, felt cheated. The Bruins played well enough to win both of those games, and came away with nothing. It was frustrating; how can we drop two games on the road to the best team in the NHL playing as well as that? A few of us started to express doubt. Maybe this year wouldn’t be the year. Maybe the Canucks just are that good. But we still had two home games. We would not be disrespected by Burrows and Lapierre without retribution. We would get back in this series.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand did some damage against Montreal, making up for what guys like Kaberle, Lucic, Krejci, and for most of the series, Horton failed to do in scoring the puck. Bergeron was lights-out at the face-off dot. Chara missed a game due to dehydration, but no harm, no foul. Bergeron missed two games against the Lightning, and his presence was desperately needed. However, his absence proved that Tyler Seguin can be a difference maker, and earned him some playing time. And through it all, Tim Thomas kept stopping pucks.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
Get back in it we did. An 8-1 stomping not only gave us hope; it gave us confidence. Not cockiness, but that cautious confidence we felt when this team was up 3-0 on the Flyers. We started thinking ahead: win again at home, dominantly, and they’ll have all the momentum back in Vancouver. The way they played back there, with how they played the last two games, this team should win game 5, with a chance to win the Cup in Boston.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
I can list off a bunch of guys who played for the Bruins and won’t win the Stanley Cup; at least, not with them. I watched as guys like Oates, Bourque, Sweeney, Juneau, Wesley, Heinze, Stumpel, Thornton, Samsonov, Stock, Guerin, Lapointe, McHechern, Allison, Dafoe, McLaren, Murray, Sturm, Metropolit, Kobasew, and of course, Cam Neely, all suited up in the black and gold, and fell short. They’re all guys I remember scoring big goals, making plays, but I’ll never see them winning it all in black and gold.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
The first period went similar to game 3, with both teams playing pretty evenly. The second period was when the ass-kicking commenced. Being down 3-0 entering the third is pretty demoralizing for the Canucks. The thought of winning the Cup on home ice in game 5 for them had slipped away. The final was 4-0. The series was 2 games to 2, but the Bruins lit up the scoreboard 14-5. This should be our series.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
I hope you won’t take this as whining, or pleading, or anything like that. I’m sure that if you’re a fan of a rival team (or the Canucks), you or someone you know has lived twice as long and invested ten times the heart and soul and money into your team as I have in my comparatively brief lifetime. You want the Cup as badly as I do. And no doubt, one day, your team will get it. But when you’re this close, you don’t care about anybody else’s teams or hopes or dreams. You don’t care about the kids and old timers on the other side who haven’t seen it, because you haven’t either. You feel bad for them. But when you’re this close, you know that there can only be one winner. You want it to be you. You need it to be you. You’re so excited you can’t sleep or eat or think about anything else but Lord Stanley’s Chalice. You hope that on the other side, they can win it next year (if you can’t repeat, anyway). But you want it.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
Game 5 made me physically ill. I felt like I was watching a replay of game 1. Talking about it makes me nauseous. This is what happens when you’re a passionate fan. Your health is supplemented by the success and failure of your team.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
I wasn’t in the building for game 6. I wanted so desperately to be there, but I couldn’t be. It’s a sad thing, but one that many more deserving of tickets than I were also situated in. People like my dad, who was 8 years old the last time they won it all. My dad was working that night, and was not be able to watch the game. He was in his truck listening on the radio when the Red Sox finally won it all. I feel bad for him that, if they win game 7, he also won’t be able to witness it live, unless he doesn’t mind staying up for 36 hours straight.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.
It was a much quicker death for Vancouver in game 6. Four of Boston’s 5 goals were scored in the first period, chasing Luongo for a second time. Vancouver would put one on the board, but once Krejci slipped the 5-on-3 goal in behind Corey Schneider, regaining the 4-goal lead midway through the third, everyone knew this series would end Wednesday night in Vancouver: a game 7 that this series deserves, but the Bruins likely feel should not be occurring, given how they’ve played in Vancouver. But it’s happening. Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. One chance to win it all.
One win away from the Stanley Cup.

"And now I think I can smell land up ahead. I hope I’m not jinxing things by saying that, but I really think I can. Not just any land, either, but the sweet Promised Land I’ve been dreaming of ever since my Uncle Oren bought me my first Red Sox cap and stuck it on my head in the summer of 1954. "There, Stevie," he said, blowing the scent of Narragansett beer into the face of the big-eyed seven-year-old looking up at him. "They ain’t much, but they’re the best we’ve got."
Now, fifty long years later, they’re on the verge of being the best of all. One more game, and we can put all of this curse stuff, all of this Babe stuff, all of this 1918 stuff, behind us.
Please, baseball gods, just one more game."
- Stephen King, Faithful, October 26th, 2004

The sport is different. The length is shorter. The personal memories are obviously different for all of us.

But I think the sentiment is the same for every single one of us.

Please, hockey gods, just one more win.

Many FanPosts are written by readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Stanley Cup of Chowder, SB Nation, their sponsors, or business partners.

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