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THE BRUINS AND NHL GAME SEVENS

An old hockey bromide goes “There is nothing more exciting in sports than an NHL Game 7.”

While that bromide may be debated, it’s certainly true that any playoff Game 7 is inherently exhilarating. Especially when it involves our Boston Bruins. And most especially when a Bruins Game 7 goes into overtime—such as occurred on May 4 at Boston’s TD Garden against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Two star-crossed teams faced off that night. The B’s were cursed with Game 7 blues. In 2022 Carolina ended Boston hopes with a 3-2 Game 7 triumph. The next year, 2023, was even worse, because after a record-breaking NHL season the B’s were vanquished in the first round by Florida in an overtime Game 7.

But 2010 was maybe the worst. The Bruins had a 3-0 series lead against Philadelphia’s Flyers who came back to force a Game 7 in which the Bruins took a 3-0 lead. But four straight Flyer goals did the B’s in. It hurts to lose when a team you love goes down, but the agony of that loss really created lasting depression for many Boston fans.

(However, a 2011 Stanley Cup naturally cured that depression!)

So having watched the B’s blow a 3-1 series lead against Toronto, current Bruins fans fought that familiar feeling of foreboding. (Alliteration alert!) Another first round elimination loomed. Especially as Toronto was overdue for hockey success.

And talk about overdue!

A few years ago, I took in a Maple Leafs-Canadiens clash at Montreal’s Bell Center. (A great game where Montreal came from behind for a dramatic win.) During the contest, fans chanted “Sixty-SEVEN! Sixty SEVEN!” The taunting chant was a reminder that Toronto hadn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967—the NHL’s longest ongoing “Cup Drought.”

(Remember how Yankee fans in New York used to chant “Nineteen-EIGHTEEN, Nineteen-EIGHTEEN” when the BoSox came to town? But that chant ceased after 2004, of course.)

After 57 years of annually disappointing Toronto fans, the Leafs were definitely overdue for success. That added to my foreboding as I set up shop to watch all of Game 7 on my recliner in front of my big flat screen surrounded by munchies and libations, with a computer to my right and phone in hand to exchange messages with fellow fans all night long.

“There is nothing more exciting in sports than an NHL Game 7.”

And exciting it was. 0-0 after one period. 0-0 after two periods. The B’s just could not score. At that point they’d scored two goals in three games, one of which was with one second left to play in Game 6. The announcers kept pointing out that the team that scored first in a Game 7 wins almost 80% of the time. Then midway through the third period Bill Nylander scored for Toronto.

It looked like yet another first-round seven-game Boston playoff departure for the star-crossed Bruins.

But …

I reminded myself that the Leafs were ALSO star-crossed.

“Sixty-SEVEN! Sixty SEVEN!”

I recalled a 2013 Game 7 in Boston in which Toronto led 4-1 going into the final period. With two minutes to go the Leafs still led 4-2 as Boston pulled its goalie. The B’s then scored twice to force overtime. Patrice Bergeron won it for Boston in overtime.

And so it came to pass that late in the third period on May 4 Hampus Lindholm scored for Boston to tie the game. Overtime. What is more exciting than a Stanley Cup Playoff Game 7 that goes to overtime?

And with two star-crossed teams—one of which had to win.

Enter Bruin forward David Pastrňák. His goal two minutes into overtime dispatched the Leafs. Pandemonium in Boston. Heartbreak in Toronto.

“Sixty-SEVEN! Sixty SEVEN!”

The Red Sox title drought lasted 86 years. But it did eventually end.

Hang in there, Maple Leaf fans. The Cubs had to go 108 years between titles!

Sports Quiz

The World Series used to be a “Best of Nine” affair. Was there ever a Game 9? (Answer follows)

Born Today

That is to say, sports standouts born on May 16 include MLB manager Billy Martin (1928) and Olympic gymnast Olga Korbut (1955).

Sports Quote

“I can’t hear what Jeremy says because I have my two Stanley Cup rings plugged in my ears.” – NHL goalkeeper Patrick Roy’s witty response to Jeremy Roenick in an exchange during the 1996 NHL playoffs.

Sports Quiz Answer

No World Series has ever gone nine games. The Red Sox won the first World Series in eight games, five games to three. The 1919, 1920, and 1921 World Series were also best of nine, won by the Reds, Indians, and Giants in eight, seven, and eight games respectively. The 1912 World Series was a “best of seven” series which went eight games because one game was a tie. The Red Sox beat the Giants that year.

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State Representative Mike Moffett was a Sports Management Professor for Plymouth State University and NHTI-Concord. He co-authored the award-winning “FAHIM SPEAKS: A Warrior-Actor’s Odyssey from Afghanistan to Hollywood and Back” which is available on Amazon.com. His e-mail address is mimoffett@comcast.net.

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