The Boston Bruins wiped out the top team in the Eastern Conference in record-setting fashion.
But after sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final, allowing two goals in the process, the Bruins found the Presidents' Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks too hard to handle in the Stanley Cup Final.
Even a one-goal lead with less than 90 seconds to play in regulation of Game 6 wasn't safe against the Blackhawks' deep, talented attack.
So the Blackhawks became the first team of the salary-cap era to win the Stanley Cup for a second time, and the Bruins now enter a summer that will be short in days but long on regrets and retooling.
1. Injured and eliminated
The Bruins were able to survive a game-and-a-half against the Penguins without forward Gregory Campbell. However, against an even deeper Blackhawks squad, they struggled to find the right combination of bottom-six forwards without their fourth-line center. Then the injuries began to mount, most notably to Patrice Bergeron, who had to sit out most of the second and third periods in Game 5 with the series lead hanging in the balance. Bergeron gutted through broken ribs, torn cartilage, a nose ailment and a separated shoulder, but was far from his normal efficient self in Game 6.
Jaromir Jagr missed most of the second half of Game 6 with an undisclosed injury. Along the way, Nathan Horton played through a separated shoulder he reaggravated in Game 1, and Zdeno Chara was fighting an injury he would not reveal. There were other players who were banged up as well.
2. A little help here guys
Jagr didn't score a goal the entire playoffs. Tyler Seguin clicked on a line with Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille from Game 2 of the Final, but didn't score a goal in either of the Bruins' last two playoff series. And most surprisingly, Brad Marchand, who was an offensive hero in the 2011 Cup Final against the Vancouver Canucks, didn't record a point in the series against Chicago. The Bruins relied on goals from their defensemen and from David Krejci's line with Horton and Milan Lucic most of the postseason. Eventually, that well ran dry and hardly anyone picked up the slack. The Bruins thought they had solved their offensive problems from the regular season, but it was a lack of scoring that helped usher in their demise.
3. Speed kills
We all know that you can't hit what you can't catch. From Game 4 of the Cup Final on, Boston learned the hard way against a Chicago team that looked like it originally wanted to attempt to match the Bruins' brute force. With the switch of forward Viktor Stalberg into the lineup for Brandon Bollig for Game 3, the return of wing Marian Hossa from injury in Game 4, plus the reunion of Bickell on a line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville finally let his team play to its strengths.
After winning most of the puck races, the Blackhawks played their possession game to perfection. They flew through the neutral zone and most times left the Bruins in the dust on their way to enough chances, and goals, to come out ahead in a series that was almost as tight as could be.
When necessary, the Blackhawks also played a solid physical game, but it was their speed that pulled them through in the end.
4. Crawford catches on
Even after the Blackhawks' victory in Game 4, there were questions about Corey Crawford in the Chicago net. A reporter went so far as to ask Quenneville if he was thinking of going to backup Ray Emery because the Blackhawks had to hang on for a 6-5 victory. The coach stuck with the goaltender he rode all playoffs, and it paid off. Though it could be argued the Bruins didn't make life difficult enough on Crawford, he still made plenty of key saves. Despite everyone on Earth knowing how weak his glove side was, he bore down and didn't cost his team any games. Regardless of degree of difficulty, one misstep by Crawford could have turned momentum the Bruins' way. Instead, he allowed three goals in the final two games of the series.
5. Bounces eluded Bruins
Although the Bruins would agree you make your own luck, it's difficult to look at the series and not see that the Blackhawks got the better of the bounces. It all started in triple overtime of Game 1, when Andrew Shaw scored the game-winner on a double deflection. Bolland's game-winner in Game 6 deflected right to him off the post. There were Chicago goals going off of every stick, body and skate in the vicinity.
On the other side, Kelly couldn't score into an open net in Game 5 after just the slightest nudge from behind by Michal Rozsival. Krejci missed an open net with a shot over the crossbar in Game 6. Kaspars Daugavins will be remembered for the chance he missed in the Game 1 triple-overtime loss.
For three rounds the Bruins got the majority of the bounces. They pulled a miracle in winning Game 7 in the first round against the Toronto Maple Leafs after trailing 4-1 in the third period. By the end of the Cup Final, though, they had run out of luck and gas.