The scars that never heal

After the Chicago Blackhawks took just 17 seconds to dismantle the Boston Bruins, the mood in Boston’s TD Garden appeared much more lively than expected. Fans of the opposing team will normally boo loudly, throw things, and act completely unsportsmanlike, all in support of their team. However, it wasn’t the case in Boston, for whatever reason they may be able to come up with. Instead, the small pockets of Blackhawks fans cheered louder than any Bruin fan could boo. Maybe it just isn’t the time for them to start booing yet.

When the clock finally hit zero and the Blackhawks celebrated, any image of a Bruins player would show the same expressions of hopeless emptiness. Some players have expressed this, while others have tried to focus themselves toward the next season when they have another chance at securing Lord Stanley’s precious Cup. Media members rushed to the ice to take the players away from their loved ones to answer questions, and the red carpet was rolled out just as the Bruins finally left the ice.

“I’ve never felt anything like this,” said 21-year-old Boston Bruin’s center Tyler Seguin to a media member after the game. “I’ve never cried for as long as this until tonight.”

While other players were making their rounds to the media, Seguin was one of the most frustrated after a postseason where nothing seemed to go his way. Fans often criticized his lack of competitive fire after noticing his timidity when about to be hit. Meanwhile, the media honed in on his shot that yielded only a single goal in 22 post-season games off of 70 shots on goal. He would finish his terrible playoff performance with only eight points as well, and playing lower line minutes while angrily shooting pucks straight into the chest of Corey Crawford.

As Seguin seemed distraught, Tuukka Rask was still trying to grasp what truly happened. He described his feelings as “nothing.” After an incredible postseason run for the young Finnish goaltender, he had finally crashed back to earth in under two minutes. While neither of the goals scored in those 17 seconds could be blamed solely on him, his team was on the losing end. The Blackhawks became the first team to ever win the Cup after trailing entering the final two minutes of play.

Rask had a great postseason, with a playoff-high three in shutouts and a save percentage with .940. No matter what happened, he always seemed to pull off the incredible saves, and now becomes a restricted free agent asking for a big deal. Reports from Joe Haggerty of CSN New England say that the starting point for the deal is at six-years, $39 million. When Rask returns home to mend to his wounds, most will know that he’ll be working on sore muscles, but there’s always the scars involved that never truly heal.

“Forever,” defenseman Johnny Boychuk told Grantland’s Katie Baker. “I mean, you are going to remember forever. You remember winning it, but I think you remember losing it a little bit more, now that we had that happen.”

Some players have wounds that are visible, such as Andrew Shaw of the Blackhawks after being hit in the face from point-blank range with a shot. Such a hit knocked superstar Sidney Crosby out for weeks until the playoffs, for Shaw it only took until the doctor finished the stitches. However, there are players who have the scars that aren’t so easy to notice. Players, coaches, and executives who went ‘all in’ this season, and came up just short.

For the Bruins, the scars run even deeper. In April, the Boston Marathon was bombed. Afterward, it appeared everybody was feeding off of the energy emanating from the city that will never give up. The Bruins refused to quit the entire postseason, even tormenting Toronto fans with an incredible comeback from a 4-1 deficit in Game 7 in the first round. The team of destiny was on a run to meet with the team that opened the season hot, and seemed to cool off with injury concerns.

Patrice Bergeron left the arena saying he was going to see a doctor for a broken rib, torn cartilage, torn muscles, and who knows what else. Zdeno Chara and Seguin wouldn’t expose their injuries, only that they would be seeing their doctors. Marian Hossa, for the Blackhawks, said he was returning to physical therapy as his foot was numb throughout the series. All players have the physical toll that playoff hockey takes, but it’s the emotional toll that really affects a player.

As the fans filed out silently and ominously, the Blackhawks cheered and kissed the cup. Proud of their victory, just as any other winner would be. For every winner, though, there has to be a loser. In this case, it was the Bruins who fell just short of forcing Game 7 and possibly winning the Stanley Cup. Sports are filled with “what ifs,” and now the Bruins and their fans have an entire offseason to ask the exact question about Game 6. Physical pain will leave, but as Johnny Boychuk said, the pain of this loss will emanate forever.

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