Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Epic Collapse, or Epic Comeback, all depends on where your heart is...

Monday night's Game Seven thriller between the Leafs and Bruins provided for much in the way of shifting momentum, as a Leafs team which was but ten minutes away from moving on to the second round unravelled in extraordinary fashion.

Torontonians, unaccustomed to the prospect of playoff success, must have felt pretty secure as the third period started its twenty minute countdown, a 4 -1 lead with fifteen minutes to play, the Leafs for the most part taking the play to the Bruins, Boston a team that points looked very old, very tired and very defeated as the clock passed the midway point of the third.

Such was the nature of the Bruins game to that point, that the coaching epitaph for Claude Julien's time in Boston was already being composed, a memorial service that would now seem to be deferred.

With half a period to go, the roof caved in on all those years of pent up Maple Leaf desire,  Milan Lucic for the most part a story only for his absence in the series, took his team by the sweater and changed what seemed to be Boston's destiny.

It was his work on Nathan Horton's goal that started the Bruins' swarming of the Leafs end of the rink for the rest of the game, his hits jarring pucks lose, his physical play in front of the Leafs net making life miserable for Leafs goaltender James Reimer.

Lucic contributed to the score sheet again at the 18:38 mark, a sharply delivered wrist shot that pulled the Bruins to within one goal, the pressure building on a young Leafs team that started to find panic a companion on the bench.

The noise of the TD Gardens deafening as the improbably comeback came to fruition  just one minute
later when Patrice Bergeron put the tying goal behind the Leafs goaltender, the shift of momentum about as dramatic as ever seen in an NHL game, a comeback never seen before in a Game 7.

The break between the third and OT was a karaoke session of some resolve for the Bruins faithful, the stable of arena rock, belted out as one.

Journey's Don't Stop Believing, a little Bon Jovi, a dash of the Who and the ever popular  Dropkick Murphy's Beantown shanty song of Shipping Out to Boston, the anthem of resolve in Boston.  

All of it taking the sing along to a higher an higher pitch, launching the Bruins into a fourth period that sealed the fate of a Toronto squad that had come so far in such a strange year, only to have it snatched away from them in a most soul destroying fashion.

Patrice Bergeron provided an encore performance in the fourth period, with one more marker on the night, one of the biggest of goals in recent Bruins history, sealing the fate of the Maple Leaf nation at 6:05 of the Overtime.

A goal that shattered the dreams of the legion of Leafs fans from coast to coast to coast and propels the Bruins on to an Original Six showdown with an ancient rival the Rangers.
It was high drama, an incredulous finish and for Leafs fans who have dared to dream along with their team through the darkest of the Harold Ballard days, the kind of loss that must surely have them wondering about curses on a storied franchise.

In the end, it may have just been another hockey game, one in which the vastly experienced team finally woke up to push back against a young team of upstarts who had found a nice groove for themselves.

The problem for Leafs fans is that they know the Bruins' were there for the taking, their Leafs couldn't shut them down for the ten minutes of hockey that mattered the most.

With their win of game six and the way they played the first fifty minutes of Game 7, the Leafs surely deserved a better fate, yet on a night in May, a time the Leafs perhaps found unfamiliar, the Hockey Gods chose otherwise for an ending to the story.

And that will make for many a memory (not a good one) for a whole new generation of Leafs fans until the boys in the Blue uniforms can finally exorcise all those ghosts that seem to skate beside them year after year.

The reviews of Monday's remarkable third period and Overtime provide as clear a picture of what took place as you could hope to find, Leaf fans may wish to defer the process of reading them for a few days, at least until the emotional pain has ebbed.

National Post-- Leafs endure heartbreaking collapse in Game 7 Overtime loss to Bruins
National Post-- Next year! Downcast Leafs fans stream home in a sad river of dejection after sudden overtime loss to Boston
Globe and Mail-- Bruins' big-time players step to the fore
Globe and Mail-- Meltdown in Beantown sees Leafs eliminated in overtime of Game 7
Globe and Mail-- The Day After: Where do the Leafs go from here?
Globe and Mail-- Leafs fans silenced, shocked by heartbreaking defeat in Boston
Globe and Mail-- A miracle comeback, an epic failing
Toronto Star-- Toronto Maple Leafs lick their wounds after loss to Boston Bruins, get ready for next year
Toronto Star-- Toronto Maple Leafs season choked away in Game 7
Toronto Star-- Maple Leafs suffer excruciating loss in Game 7
Toronto Star-- Boston Bruins, NHL's drama kings, survive Game 7 vs. Leafs
Toronto Sun-- Maple Leafs deserved better than this
Toronto Sun-- 'I didn't see him', Gardiner says
Toronto Sun-- Maple Leafs: Bruins' Milan Lucic too strong for Buds
Toronto Sun-- Maple Leafs blow lead to Bruins, lose Game 7 in overtime
Toronto Sun-- 'We ran out of gas'
Toronto Sun-- The Leafs should see the positive in 2013 season
Boston Herald-- Bruins win Game 7 in OT after wild rally
Boston Herald-- Bruins' stunning comeback ranks with Boston's best
Boston Herald-- Bergeron delivers in face of mounting criticism
Boston Herald-- Milan Lucic didn't want it to end
Boston Herald-- Bruins emotionally drained after dramatic win
NESN-- Bruins character Prevails as B's shock Maple Leafs in thrilling Game 7 Overtime win
NESN-- Bruins complete Epic Comeback with Return to fundamental play late in Game 7
NESN-- Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron Save Bruins' season...
NESN-- Patrice Bergeron Nets Game Winning Goal in Overtime to Beat Maple Leafs in Game 7
USA Today-- Bruins stage historic rally to stun Leafs in OT
USA Today-- How the entire city of Toronto feels, in one photograph

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