I know, you are sick of hearing about Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. I get it. It is completely understandable why you do not want to hear more about last year. For many reasons, Game 7 was pure frustration.
Legacy wise, the Chara and Bergeron core became an unimpressive 1-2 in Stanley Cup Finals. The top line of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak were neutralized. Boston squandered an opportunity to win a Cup without having to go through perennial powerhouses, such as Tampa, Pittsburgh, and Washington. The Bruins failed to pick up Tuukka Rask like he had done for them all postseason. They had great chances in the first period but had nothing to show for it. They had to sit through the St Louis Blues celebrating with The Stanley Cup on Boston's home ice. Some players might not ever truly get over the pain they felt in that moment.
However, the 2019-2020 season is upon us, and with it comes a clean sheet of ice. The Bruins cannot let that loss linger into the regular season. Boston cannot afford to dwell on last year’s disappointment if they want a chance for redemption. Although last year’s loss was brutal, they have to remain focused on the task at hand.
The 2020 campaign for The Boston Bruins will certainly not be a walk in the Public Gardens. For starters, they will have to deal with a hungry, possibly even pissed, Lightning squad. Tampa Bay might even have a bigger psychological hurdle to overcome than Boston. At least the Bruins won three rounds and 15 playoff games last spring. That is three more rounds and 15 more wins than the Lightning had in the 2019 playoffs. Tampa Bay’s bounce back season will definitely be an interesting story-line to follow.
If that is not enough, Boston still has to deal with the boys up in Toronto. Yes, the opponent the Bruins have bested in back to back seven game playoff series will most certainly be in the hunt. The Maple Leafs could be smelling blood in the water. Let’s not forget last year’s series would have probably been a lot different had Tuukka Rask not played out of his mind. Talk about another team needing a therapy session. Toronto has to be absolutely sick of losing to Boston. They could have easily reigned supreme with a couple of key goals or clutch saves in either series defeats These two teams are that close. We will see if this is the year Toronto can finally take that leap over Boston.
After my psychoanalysis of Boston, Tampa Bay, and Toronto, we are back to the original point. Every point matters in this division, especially for the Bruins and Leafs. There is absolutely a chance the Lightning maintain a comfortable lead in the Atlantic and end up as the top seed in the division. That leaves Boston and Toronto in a dog fight for home ice in the first round.
Whether you love or hate hate the NHL playoff format, it does create really exciting first round match ups. It will likely be either the Bruins or Leafs hosting the other when mid April rolls around. Many people think a big reason Boston came away on top the last two years in this rivalry was because Game 7 was played on the Garden's dirty (frozen) water.
So the Bruins can not afford to focus on last year’s loss. That could carry onto the ice and cost this team points. If they want to finish the job this year, and win 16 playoff games instead of 15, they should take a page out of the Patriots' book and focus on the upcoming season. They need to leave the past behind them.
Photo courtesy of WCVB
Story by Chad Jones
Follow Chad on Twitter @shutupchadjones