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BOSTON—In 2011, the dream was still alive. The Bruins and the city they represented were starving for a Cup. In 2010, the Black and Gold were so close to reaching the pinnacle of their sport with the Stanley Cup in their sights, only to have those aspirations come to a screeching halt as the pesky Flyers did what was thought to be nearly impossible, coming from a 3-0 series deficit and stunning the Bruins by winning the series four games to three. Needless to say, Bruins fans were a little less than pleased. However the 2011 season promised great things as they held the second overall pick in the draft, and with most of the ream returning, expectations were high. However, it was not until their backs were against the wall that things really began to take shape.
Fast forward to April 2011. I am furiously ready to trade away the whole team and am not pleased with Claude Julien, as I watch the conclusion of Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals from my incredibly comfortable chair and armed with snacks. Now, the Bruins are down two games to none, and if they have any shot in this series, they have to play the role of the underdog. They perform well over the next ten days and have me wondering if they have a chance at the hockey jewel known as the Stanley Cup “No, I think to myself, “They’ll probably blow it like they usually do anyway. After all, they did it last year, why would this year be different?” It is never good when my alter-sports-ego, Pessimistic Sports Fan makes an appearance. With the way the Bruins looked, it was impossible for him not to rear his ugly head. But then, they began to win. They came back and beat the rival Habs four games to three, swept a gritty and bruising Flyers squad, and defeated the Lightning in a series full of offensive explosion, four games to three.
In each of those series, they had to claw and battle their way, and even when they advanced to the pinnacle of the sport, many thought there was no chance that they would beat a vaunted Vancouver Canucks squad. However, that series exemplified traits that the Black and Gold had showed throughout the entire playoffs: toughness, grit, determination, and the ability to embrace the role of the underdog. The later was perhaps most visibly noticeable. As they began to build momentum and rolled off win after win, their role of underdog grew in the sense that the fans and the team themselves began to embrace it.
The passion that they showed on every shift, the resiliency that they showed in tough moments and the sacrifices they were willing to make for their teammates was evident. Take for example Michael Ryder’s glove save on Tomas Plekanic, saving a sure goal. It was apparent that Boston would do anything it took to win the Stanley Cup, a quality that instantly made the ’11 squad fan favorites.
Now a Stanley Cup and a playoff appearance later, Boston is currently tied with Montreal for first place in the Northeast division. However, the same sense of urgency that won the Bruins the Cup just does not seem to be there this year. They are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games and looked sluggish in their 5-3 loss to the Flyers on Wednesday. It does not seem like the intensity and urgency is there at the moment. Rather it seems as though they are playing games just to play them, and not to win. With the playoffs fast approaching, this is not the entrance that any of the fans had in mind.
If the Bruins want to win their second Cup in three seasons, they have to channel that same raw desperation that was prevalent in 2011. They have to play with that same underdog fight, before they won the Cup. That is true Bruins hockey and captures the overall Boston mood to a tee: hardworking, tough, resilient, and wanting their presence to be felt. Right now, they exhibit none of those things.
With the way they are playing, listless and uninspired, they will be lucky to make it out of the first round. They need to wake up before it is too late.