Meltdown on Ice Helps Bruins Make History En Route to Next Round
Now we know why Don Cherry really wears those giraffe-neck collars with his suits.
They keep his veins in place when he goes apoplectic. And as he's based in Toronto, those collars may have saved his life many times over.
The former Bruins coach and current Leafs curmudgeon could barely contain himself last night, as he correctly chastised both the Boston Bruins and Toronto's Maple Leafs for leaving the points open for long-range howitzers that ultimately produced nine goals in an historic Game 7 that took an incredible third period and a few minutes of overtime to complete a total Leafs collapse.
As with most Games 7 during Stanley Cup season, there was enough ill will to go around before the first puck ever hit the ice. Toss in a pair of referees who will never be called upon to enforce world peace, and this clash exuded more intensity than a heatseeker in hell. The surprise was that only James van Riemsdyk's blood made an appearance, courtesy of Chris Kelly's elbow in open ice; it was one of numerous no-calls that normally characterize gang wars.
James Reimer played heroically for 58 minutes, accruing saves from positions not even dared in the Kama Sutra, but he couldn't withstand the furious Bruins assault at the end. Chara blocked out the sun as he patrolled the crease during a 6-on-5 barrage, and shots that Reimer had been collecting morphed into inviting rebounds. First, Milan Lucic made no mistake of an extra chance, and then, with 50.2 seconds remaining between the Leafs and a second-round berth, career dervish Patrice Bergeron slammed home a blueline blast to send the TD Garden into ecstasy and the game into overtime.
The die was cast. Some would call it the moment when Leafness set in, but whatever the cause, Toronto's cast looked to be shellshocked in the trenches from that moment onward. It was only a matter of time before another long bomb would yield another wayward rebound, and the ever-present Bergeron sealed the deal.
Boston knows they whistled past the graveyard in this series. They had best find a different tactic than long rebounds against their next opponent, as Henrik Lundqvist just finished stoning a higher-octane offense in the Washington Capitals.
Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs will return to the self-proclaimed Hockey Capital of the World, left to wonder what they've always wondered every spring since 1967.