The NHL playoffs are the best of all of the four major sports in terms of teams taking their game and passion to another level. Seeds are thrown out the window as any team can win on any given night, and there is usually a strong dislike that develops between the two teams over the course of a seven game series, which only adds to the drama. There are plenty of comebacks that keep fans on the edge of their seats, including some from multi-goal deficits. Finally, nothing beats sudden death overtime on the road to the Stanley Cup.
Unlike the NBA playoffs, hockey is not about individuals; hockey is about the teams. There is not even close to the amount of complaining about the officiating, and you don’t just watch the last two minutes of each game — in the Stanley Cup playoffs there is 60 minutes of hard-hitting, fast paced, intense hockey action that no fan wants to miss.
With all that being said, it is a shame that the hometown Boston Bruins were eliminated in their first round series with the Washington Capitals.
But, is it really a shame? Does it really matter when the Bruins were eliminated?
That is one sentiment shared by some fans and members of the media on the Bruins following their Game 7 overtime loss last week. Joe Haggerty tweeted this late last week:
Love @mikefelger incensed w/Bruins because they were dusted in 1st round rather than 2nd round. What’s the diff if they weren’t winning Cup?
Haggerty isn’t the only media member in Boston that has said something similar to that, but comments like this raise the question of, why are the Bruins getting a free pass for their first round exit?
The 2011-2012 Boston Bruins deserve to be criticized. They finished the regular season as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, but fell in seven games to the No. 7 seeded Washington Capitals. Stars from last year’s Stanley Cup run, and the team in general, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand combined to score just one goal and dish out four assists in the seven games. Tim Thomas was not on top of his game, as he let in a few goals that even he would admit he should have stopped. Why aren’t these players’ performances being brought up in the media?
Instead of bringing up the players who struggled, some members of the media have said throughout the season how the Bruins won the Cup in 2011 and how hard it is to repeat as champions because the team endured a long year and extremely short off-season. To these people the Bruins probably weren’t going to win the Cup in 2012, so what does it matter when they were eliminated?
Does this make any sense? It doesn’t matter when the team was knocked out? If that is the case, then why even bother playing the games? Is winning the Stanley Cup once every 39 years good enough? Isn’t the goal of any team to establish a winning tradition? Winning the Stanley Cup every year just isn’t going to happen, but teams can be contenders year in and year out. And no, just getting to the playoffs is not contending. Getting to the conference final, now that is contending.
There have been a handful a teams that have advanced to the conference finals in back-to-back years, it has been done on many occasions even just since the year 2000. From 2000-2003, the New Jersey Devils made the Eastern Conference Finals two out of the three years, Buffalo made it in back-to-back years in 2006-2007, same with Pittsburgh in 2007 and 2008. That is just in the Eastern Conference.
In the Western Conference, Colorado made it three straight years from 2000-2003, Anaheim made it in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007, and the same goes for Detroit in 2008 and 2009, as well as San Jose in 2010 and 2011.
Taking it a step further, three teams made it to the Stanley Cup finals in back-to-back years. After winning the Cup in 2000, the Devils were right back in the Stanley Cup final the next year, the Red Wings won it all in 2008 and were also right back in the finals the next year. The Penguins were runners-up in 2008 before winning it in 2009.
This proves that just because a team made/or won the Stanley Cup the year before does warrant grounds for any excuses to be made on the teams’ performance the following year.
The 2011-2012 Bruins should be remembered for their successful regular season, but disappointing playoff run. The 2011 Stanley Cup is in the past, and should not even be brought up. The best franchises contend for conference titles every single year, not win the Stanley Cup and refer back to it as an excuse for losing the next year and in the years to come.