CHICAGO -- If anyone knows what the Boston Bruins are going through in the aftermath of a draining triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday at United Center, it would be team president Cam Neely.
When Andrew Shaw banked an already deflected shot off his knee pad and past Tuukka Rask for the winning goal 12:08 into the third overtime to give Chicago a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, Neely felt a very familiar pain as he watched from the team's management box.
Twenty-three years earlier, Neely -- then a star power forward with the Bruins -- lived through a similar nightmare in Game 1 of the 1990 Final. The Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers were locked in a 2-2 tie past the 15-minute mark of the third extra period at Boston Garden when Edmonton's Petr Klima, who had played sparingly throughout the game, scored the game-winning goal.
That game ended 55:13 into overtime; it's the longest game in Stanley Cup Final history.
"Mentally, it wasn't tough to recover from that," Neely said Thursday at the Bruins' hotel. "Physically, it was the same for both teams."
But it appeared Boston never recovered from the loss. They were routed 7-2 in Game 2, and after a 2-1 victory in Game 3, the Bruins lost 5-1 and 4-1 to the Oilers, who won the Cup for the fifth time in seven years.
Neely was asked whether things would have been different if his Bruins had won Game 1. He said he wasn't sure.
"That's tough to say," he said. "They played really well and [goalie Bill] Ranford stood on his head that series, so it is really hard to say."
He doesn't feel the same could happen to the current Bruins because the Stanley Cup the club won in 2011 has inured this team from getting too low when things go against it.
"I just know the experience these guys went through in 2011 is an experience that we didn't have," Neely said. "There were a number of us that played [in the Final against Edmonton] in '88, but we didn't have the type of run these guys had in 2011."
He also argues this team has a far better flair for the dramatic than any of the clubs for which he played, so he knows the Bruins will be ready for Game 2 on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).
"We joke that we don't make things easy on ourselves," Neely said. "These guys bounce back and they have showed it time and again, and that is what I expect Saturday."
He also expects to be asked more and more about the 1990 classic, one of the iconic games in Bruins history. Though he'll try to answer, he won't consider the what-ifs that are so often a part of the conversation. He also won't go back and watch the game, which he said he has never seen.
"One of my lines that I talk to myself about and say is that my rear-view mirror is broken," he said. "There is no point in rehashing that because you can't change the past."
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