|Boston Bruins players, from left, Patrice Bergeron (37), Chuck Kobasew, Zdeno Chara, and Tim Thomas leave the ice after they losing to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of an NHL Eastern Conference semifinal hockey playoff series in Boston Thursday, May 14, 2009. The Hurricanes won 3-2 in overtime. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola) |
Where to start? Or more accurately, where to end?
The Boston Bruins season came to an abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion on Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes Scott Walker somehow found a hole in Boston's bulletproof goaltender Tim Thomas
Walker, whose punch to the head of defenseman Aaron Ward had previously been the most talked about blow from the Hurricanes during the seven-game series, sent most of New England to bed with a very bad headache and more than a touch of heartburn.
"Well it’s hard, there’s not much you can say," said the Black & Gold's head coach Claude Julien. "Obviously, it’s a huge disappointment and rightfully so.
"We can say what we want, but we had higher expectations than this and I’m glad we did.
"The players are upset and so are we as a coaching staff," he said.
An emotional Thomas, who clearly still felt the weight of New England's hockey expectations on his strong shoulders, spoke about the season.
"We’re like brothers in here. We get along great and we kept battling for each other and it’s just too bad we came up short." - Marc Savard
"It was a good ride," said the should-be Vezina Trophy-winning goalie. "It seems so long ago but it was only seven months ago or whatever that a lot of people were picking us to barely make the playoffs.
"I don’t think this is how we envisioned it ending."
Diagonally across the locker room, should-be Norris-winning defenseman, Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara
, added, "It’s just a sad way to end it right now because obviously we had different goals and much higher goals and better expectations.
"We all know that we could go further than that. Never know what could happen after that."
As usual, center Marc Savard
was surrounded by a huge media scrum and, per usual, "Savvy" spoke the truth.
He said: "It’s a tough night. It’s going to be a tough night. Especially if you look around the room. We were down 3-1 and we gave it all we had and when that last goal went in, it hurt. It hurt every guy. We’re like brothers in here. We get along great and we kept battling for each other and it’s just too bad we came up short."
|"A great group of guys..." |
Assistant captain Patrice Bergeron
, who worked so hard just to be healthy enough to play this season echoed his counterparts.
"It hurts a lot," he said. "I mean, we really believed we had what it takes in this locker room to go far, and it’s very disappointing to be on the losing side here, especially in front of our fans.
I thought we had a great year, but also, I thought we played pretty well in the playoffs.
"From top to bottom, I think all the players, we were gelling well together and we had good chemistry. And yeah, it hurts not being able to advance," said Bergeron.
Rookie Byron Bitz, who stepped up with his first NHL postseason goal, started his statements low, but finished high.
"You battle like that all year and it comes down to one shot, one goal. It’s like a knife in the heart. It’s tough to take," he said. " But I don’t think anybody’s going to hang their head.
"I think we came up in the wrong end this time, but I think we’ll walk out of here with our heads held high."
Then he said, "It’s a great group of guys."
Yes it is Byron. Yes it is.