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Is it September yet?

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Those fans of the Hub of Hockey who have dared to turn on the flat screen since fall of their beloved Black & Gold have been greeted with plenty of recaps of Game 7.

Boston Bruins' Milan Lucic, center, Blake Wheeler, left, and Marc Savard, right, skate on the ice after losing 4-3 to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of a second-round NHL playoff hockey series, Friday, May 14, 2010, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
None of the reminders is more jarring than the new postseason commercial, played on a seemingless endless loop, which shows a victorious Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton being engulfed by a sea of orange and black as a nightmarish scene turned the TD Garden into a house of horror five months before those Halloween colors should ever be worn in public.

"What if Broad Street hadn't fought back," asks the commercial, before it displays the now familiar "History will be made..." tag line.

History was made in the TD Garden and added to the region's genuine heartache over the clubs' Stanley Cup drought. The Flyers historic comeback left B's fans wondering aloud, "What if David Krejci hadn't gotten hurt? What if Marco Sturm's knee hadn't been injured? What if the B's had scored in OT of Game 4?"

And two days later, the weeks between Game 7 and the start of Training Camp 2010 seem to stretch before New England's hockey fans in a vista that is only challenged by the Cape's National Seashore on a rainy day in August (a visage that is made only slightly more palatable by the thought of the Bruins first round pick in the second spot and the ensuing excitement about the club's annual Development Camp and European trip).

Friday night, as nearly every member of the Bruins sat in front of their locker stalls, the finality of the loss broke over the room like the shadows cast by some supernatural solar eclipse out of a Stephen King novel. But it's not even certain that Maine's beloved storyteller could have come up with a scenario that would have shocked his readers more than the tale authored by the Philadelphian hockey club.

By the way: Milan Lucic doesn't blame you if you were yelling at the TV.

"Well if I was them, I would be disappointed too," said Boston's ice-bound bulldozer. "What kind of reaction do you expect from them?

"If the roles were reversed and we were in Philly and we won coming back from 3-0, you would expect the exact same reaction so, I don’t blame them for their reaction at all."

Patrice Bergeron, who regained his personal form this past season after battling the effects of a concussion suffered at the hands of the Flyers, wasn't able to find perspective in the aftermath, either.

"I think when you look at the season – up and down – and the way we regrouped in two months to get to that sixth spot, and then we get into the playoffs and we kind of surprise Buffalo and second round, same thing -- you know, we battled on," he said, attempting to find a beacon in the season's orange sunset. "I don’t know if you can look at it as just bad stuff, you know. There’s some positive also, but right now, I mean, it’s tough to look at the positive when you lose a game like that."

Perhaps the most disconsolate person in the building was the heart and soul of the B's in the playoffs -- Mark Recchi.

Recchi sat slumped in his space and with tired eyes tried to explain what he saw.

"It’s up there," said Recchi when asked where the loss ranked in terms of his journey and the inevitable disappointments that creep into even a Hall of Fame caliber hockey career. "I’ve had a couple Game 7’s losing in the semifinals but this one hurts a lot.

"Like I said you don’t get too many chances to get to the third round and have an opportunity to go to the Stanley Cup. To be able to take that step would have been huge. It’s what we play for."

To their credit, the Bruins did not place the blame of their defeat at the toes of the hockey gods.
"Well, I don’t think we can… put everything on the guys that we’ve lost," said Bergeron of the many injuries that the Bruins endured throughout the regular season and playoff run. "It hurt, and, you know, that’s obvious.

"We’re missing three great players…but they were missing some good guys as well. [Jeff] Carter wasn’t in and [Ian] Laperriere wasn’t playing, so you can’t blame it on that," continued the B's assistant captain. "You know, we’ve been a team that showed a lot of character all year through injuries and stuff like that and we’ve never...put the blame on the injuries.

"We’ve always kind of tried to battle through it and I don’t think it should be an excuse right now."

So where does the blame belong?

"We came out playing [hard] and you have to stick with that killer instinct that got you that lead and we didn’t do that," said Lucic specifically about Game 7, but perhaps characterizing Games 5 thorugh 7. "We had opportunities to make it 4-1 and we didn’t capitalize."

"Killer instinct was missing," said Recchi. "Desperation at the end of a first period to not allow them to score, which I think is imperative and it didn’t happen."

Bergeron also said that the Black & Gold had to look in the mirror.

"I think we did it to ourselves," said Boston's beloved Bergy. "They’re a good team, but still, we were in control and we didn’t get going."

Boston fans, now a couple of days removed from the tumult will have to decide whether to turn on the third round this afternoon.

Two Original Six teams are left in the tournament, and perhaps the ghosts of the Golden Age of Hockey might dissuade hockey fanatics from Connecticut to Maine from taking Faulknarian leaps off bridges from Bridgeport to Bridgeton, but it certainly won't make the summer go any faster if the Blackhawks or Canadiens are parading with The Jug that Boston hasn't sipped from since ’72.

But in the words of someone very wise (or very optimistic), hope springs eternal.

"Obviously there is going to be a bitter taste in your mouth for all this summer, but at some point you have to try and get over it," said Lucic -- perhaps the B's best representative of the club's immediate future. "Who knows how long it is going to take, but hopefully we can take some things out of this and we can learn a real valuable lesson that we can’t take anything for granted at all.

"I think everyone in this room is going to have that bitter taste in their mouth and hopefully everyone uses that to come out hungry and work even harder to push more to start off and have a good start to next season."

Lucic implied that his own brand of therapy will come in the weight room, ice rink and treadmill, as he and his Bruins teammates look to sweat out the hangover caused by their early exit.

"Definitely," said Lucic, again speaking specifically, but perhaps characterizing the approach that will be taken by the entire team. "With the disappointing season you want to have a good off-season to get things going again stronger for next year to have a strong start and put together a great season next year.

"But I felt like my game came around here in this series and for myself I just want to do whatever I can to build off that and carry it on to next year and do whatever I can to avoid injury going into next season."

For now, however, Edmonton is on the clock for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to be held in Los Angeles on June 26th. The Black & Gold picks second.

Maybe, just maybe, that beacon of hope can lead Bruins Nation through a stormy summer and into the harbor of a hopeful 2010-11 campaign.
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