It was a beautiful night in Boston. The heat wave - which for five days blanketed the city like the Islanders did the Bruins after a puck dump - was finally breaking. High schools were graduating. A feeling of celebration already in the air. And the sunset was something you see framed at an art show pavilion but don’t buy, even though you considered it.
Sports fans were likely congregating all over New England, together again after so long, too long, at the ballpark, in bars and backyards, living rooms and fancaves. A perfect evening to watch a couple of games together, hoping the Bruins could fight their way back home for a Game 7, the Red Sox would compliment that by keeping up their winning ways, and Boston sports, like us, could get back on track.
And then sports happened.
The Bruins lost a game where they never had the lead, in demoralizing fashion, sealing the fate of a team many saw as championship caliber. While the Red Sox, whose outcome was far less urgent, got an early lead by were roundly beaten themselves, incapable of salvaging the night. Major bummer.
Now, it’s not the first time multiple Boston sports teams have lost on the same night, or day. Likely not to be the last. Nor was it really the worst. I can think of several occasions where one soul-sucking loss was followed by another gutpunch defeat. Take Oct. 11, 2009. The Red Sox were eliminated from the playoffs, swept at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels, a team they had previously dominated in the postseason. (Papelbon coughed up the lead, FWIW.) We chased that stunning loss with a particularly wrenching Patriots defeat to the Denver Broncos, then helmed by Josh McDaniels. Kyle Orton bested Tom Brady. The Broncos wore hideous uniforms. McDaniels did this weird salute after the game. Gross.
Wednesday ranks up there in terms of double defeat disappointment. Sure, hearts are heavier, heads wearier, for the diehard fan on an elimination night. Your team’s chance at winning a championship is over. It’s supposed to suck! Thus was the case with the Bruins getting pushed around by the Islanders again, bumped from the postseason by a tougher, more opportunistic team, at the Long Island Coliseum. Their dreams, like the arena, to be demolished. What makes it all the more painful is the Bruins were the favorite going in, like they were in another eerily similar series, the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals. At least that series made it home for Game 7, though the end result was still quite miserable.
Compounding matters is the possible end of the line for this Bruins squad, who’ve come so close time and again yet delivered but one Cup in over a decade.
Tuukka has likely skated his final game between the Bruins’ pipes. (How you feel about that is a whole other story for a different space.) Several key players like Taylor Hall and David Krejci are free agents. Leaders like Patrice Bergeron were saying postgame they realize the team’s aging core is running out of chances. Maybe things could have been different if the defense were healthier, or the refs were better. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but...it is what what it is. Be you lifetime superfan or a bandwagon fan who hops on the playoff zamboni for the ride every April. This end of the line might be particularly painful.
As for the Red Sox? They’ve been a pleasant surprise all season, and they’ll likely be fine. Better be, considering they’re all we’ve got for the next 94 days (no offense, Revs). Houston has their number so far. It happens. Just that when you were looking for relief from the Beez and switched over for a quick hit of sports serotonin at Fenway you got Alex Bregman hitting a bomb over the monster. Not as significant, but also not great, Bob. Not great.
Looking for a topping on the disappointment sundae? Earlier in the day we learned that Kemba Walker and the Celtics are breaking up. Which will be a good thing for all parties. Except that now all it did was remind us of their squandered season and inglorious finish at the hands of the Nets a week back. And that our immediate playoff fortunes were in the hands of the Bruins. And then this series, and tonight. Sigh.
And no, twitter, I don’t want to see footage of Tom Brady looking sharp at practice again, thanks. Plenty of salt in the wounds already.
This has happened before. It will happen again. Time is a flat circle, etc. Win some, lose some, all that. The chance to come back and experience the sweet taste of victory after the bitter taste of defeat is one of the reasons why we sports fan. It’s just that, post-pandemic, and knowing that beautiful sun from earlier is setting on this beloved Bruins squad? Well, this particular double defeat Wednesday was an extra painful one. We love these teams. Nobody wants to see it end. Plus this is Boston, where we’re currently experiencing a major duckboat drought. What’s it been, almost 2 1/2 years? Won’t someone think of the children?
Hang tight. We’ll be back. Put some ice on it. Get a cold one. Sox still in it. Pats kick off in just over three months. Maybe the Bruins can make one last run at it.