There's no way around it: the current generation of Bruins is never going to fully emerge from the shadow of the 2010 collapse. Despite winning the Stanley Cup in 2011, the spectacular failure against the Flyers will always be hovering around, a convenient narrative just waiting to be snatched up by a desperate journalist or opposing fan looking for a jab.
Bruins fans haven't gotten over it either. To wit: after last night's 4-3 loss in overtime, the doom and gloom began all over again.
"Here comes the collapse!"
"Are they really going to blow it again?!"
"No, you suck."
Judging from the reaction on Twitter, which is normally a bastion of rational thought, one would think the Game 4 loss put the Bruins down 3-1 in the series, and that they'd be the team playing for their season tomorrow afternoon at the Garden.
Relax. It's a loss. One game. And the Bruins are still ahead in the series, and ahead comfortably. As Phil said yesterday, this isn't 2010, and this isn't 2010's team.
To put it bluntly, the Bruins played a terrible game last night. They turned the puck over, made lazy plays ("hey, let's try another drop pass!"), and made the kind of boneheaded mental mistakes that just can't happen in the playoffs. They gave up two gift goals, one on a goalie blunder that happens once in a decade and another on one of the worst defensive plays of Zdeno Chara's career, that let the Rangers back in the game when they had one eye on this weekend's tee times.
In spite of all of this, all of the blunders and all of the weird bounces, the Bruins managed to get a couple of leads before eventually succumbing to this heroic effort by the Rangers. In overtime.
Pardon me for not thinking the world is coming to an end.
And the Rangers are brimming with pride after last night's sound trouncing. According to Katie Strang of ESPN, John Tortorella is still praising his team's effort this morning, saying they did a "great f*****g job last night."
That was the Rangers' great f*****g job? That was it?!
The Bruins gave away the game last night, plain and simple. And while the Rangers did score two nice goals (the game-winner was a thing of beauty), the Bruins also gave them two gift donations so charitable that they should get their own wing in Madison Square Garden.
"The 'I've Never Watched a Hockey Game Before, So Why Start Now?' Celebrity Lounge, presented by the Rask-Chara Consortium."
The point here is this:
Last night's loss was the worst game the Bruins have played so far in this series, and they needed two atrocious mistakes to basically force the Rangers into winning the game. This wasn't a Ranger win so much as it was a Bruin loss.
Despite the mistakes, the Bruins still managed to carry the play for the majority of the night and still managed to pepper Lundqvist with 40 shots. This wasn't the Bruins' best effort matched against the Rangers' best, with New York coming out on top. No, this was the Bruins' worst matched with the Rangers' best (apparently), and New York squeaking out a win.
Lest this seem like pie-in-the-sky optimism, there certainly are reasons to be a bit concerned. The B's once again lacked the killer instinct to "kill the beast" when they had the chance, and have a reputation for making things as difficult on themselves as possible. They've also given the Rangers a glimmer of hope, and let them get their woeful power play on the board.
But good things happened last night too. Tyler Seguin snapped his scoring drought. Torey Krug continued to impress. Nathan Horton showed up. The Bruins scored two goals on the power play, with a third (Seguin's) coming just after a power play expired.
The Rangers deserve some credit for not rolling over and dying after going down 2-0 in the second period, though one can't help but think things would've unfolded differently if not for Rask's momentum-creating gift. But how much energy did they expend, how much emotion, and at what cost?
The Bruins can't just show up tomorrow afternoon and say, "well, they got their one win at home, so they'll probably just go away." But what they can do is show up and play the game they've played in three games this series, putting the one poor effort behind them.
If they can do that, they'll be just fine, and all of this Chicken Little talk will be a distant memory.
If they don't show up, fans will suffer a fate worse than death: more hashtag-filled Stan Fischler ramblings on karma.