Late in the third period, Marc Savard waved for a line change. Vladmir Sobotka hoped on the ice. Savard then changed direction. The whistle blew. Too Many Men was called. Danny Briere hopped the boards and took his shirt off, clearly misunderstanding the call.
Simon Gagne would score on the ensuing power play. The Bruins epic choke job was complete. And now Savard is public enemy #1 with Bruins fans. But is Savard really to blame for the Bruins loss? We've had a weekend to sober up think about it, it's time to throw in our two-cents. After the jump, Days of Y'Orr explores who is to blame... Savard clearly made a mistake. That much we know. But to say he lost the series for the Bruins is quite the stretch. The Bruins never even should have been in the position for a player to take a bad penalty in a Game 7 in the first place. Unless you're brain dead, you've certainly heard the Bruins had a 3-0 lead in the series. They took Game 4 to overtime. They left Gagne open in front. Sound familiar? Game 5. Bobby Orr night. Technically anyway. Boucher goes down for the Flyers. In comes Michael Leighton, a goalie who had not seen any game action in 2 months. He continues Boucher's shutout, Bruins get schooled 4-0. Game 6. Leighton again looks unbeatable. Bruins putting up bad angle shots. The NHL 10 announcers would've been all over their shit for taking the shots they did. They fail to score until there is a minute left when Lucic gets one. On a tip. From the crease. Finally Bruins. Now the series is tied. Game 7 opens up great. On the back of Milan Lucic the Bruins jump to a 3-0 lead. For the first 15 minutes, they look unbeatable.
Then it happened. Near the end of the first, a shot got deflected and dribbled towards the Boston net. No one in the crowd was concerned. Surely Rask or one of the defenders would grab the sho.... red light on? Que?
Surely just a small bump on the Bruins road to continued domination. Then the second started. But the Bruins didn't come out of the locker room. They sent out their AHL team, who were clearly outmatched by the Flyers.
Before you could yell rape the Flyers had the game tied. You called for a doctor because the Bruins were choking, but there were no doctors to be found. The queezy feeling in your stomach wasn't because of the TD Garden nachos. It was because of the Bruins.
So who do we point the finger at? Surely there must be just ONE person to blame. Here are the options:
Marc Savard: Lots of people are going to instantly blame Savard for the loss. Fans always like to gravitate to one moment in time for why a team wins or loses and not the overall 60 minute effort. Savard's been in the NHL long enough and has been playing hockey since he was a wee little Canuck skating in Canada, so we have to imagine that he knows the proper line change etiquette. He raised his stick and then didn't go off the ice, leaving Vladdy high and dry. So the truth is, yes, Savard helped the Bruins lose Game 7 with his bonehead move, but his penalty was the reason the Bruins loss Game 7 and not the series (though his 12 PIM in 7 GP wasn't helpful). His penalty was just the exclamation point of the series and really embodies the entire downfall. Sadly, he'll be looked upon (for this summer anyways) as the Bruins' Bill Buckner.
Blades: What a crappy mascot. Spent too much time selling his merch, and not enough time motivating the fans. If the Bear was the main mascot for the Bruins you know there'd be the right amount of leadership and motivation in the Garden. Speaking of which... The Bear: ... why do we never see the Bear in the Garden? Why haven't we seen him enforce all his hockey fan rules? I want to see him throwing Suits through glass, wiping off shitstaches off of fairy diving players and putting Briere and Gagne in the Sharpshooter... Coaching Staff: This was Rask's first year with the big club full time. He played A LOT of hockey, especially down the stretch. He looked tired as the Philly series went on. It is not common practice in the playoffs to change starters, but perhaps once the Bruins went up 3-0 in the series, or even after Game 4, They should've thrown a start to Thomas to rest the rookie. Even if Thomas underperformed due to rust or his leaky 5-hole, they still would've had more chances to win. But we aren't coaches. We sit in our living room and watch games in our boxers. David Krejci: Where was he Games 4 though 7, eh? Where was he when the Bruins needed a big face off win or goal? Wait, what? Oh yea, he got injured in Game 3. Ummm... What an asshole. Letting his wrist get dislocated by sacrificing his body to take a hit, so Lucic could dish the puck to Satan to score. Jesusfuckingchrist. What a selfish toolbag.... Seriously though, losing Krejci was a huge mountain to climb both offensively and defensively for the B's. It screwed up with their lines which wouldn't had been a huge issue if guys like Wheeler, Ryder and Paille weren't afraid of the goal buzzer. Wheeler, Ryder, Paille: With the exception of Ryder's Game 7 goal, he had only one other goal in the series. Wheeler had only four points, but 0 in the final three games and only three shots mustered total in those last few games. Paille had one point all series and only three shots in the four losses to the Filth. Wideman: If you ask most fans, everything is Wideman's fault. He led the Bruins in points in the playoffs. The Defense: Or what little defense there was. Bruins let up four goals in Game 5 at home (while putting up goose eggs) and let in another four in Game 7. The Bruins really needed Tuukka Rask to steal one of those final four games for the B's, but was unable to. That's part it being his first season in the NHL, partly being physically and mentally tired from the rough schedule that is the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and lots of it can land on the shoulders of the defense who left him out to dry with bad puck movement and man coverage.
Stuart wasn't able to get back to form fast enough for the B's (not that we're blaming him), Ference is a waste of space on the blue line, Chara turned into Chris Angel and disappeared. The Captain was mostly invisible this series. Didn't use the body well. Didn't really generate too many opportunities with his booming shot. He was barely noticeable on the ice. Makes you wonder if he should even be Captain. If only the B's could've fielded a defensive squad of all Boychuks.
Or, they could've gone the Russian root and put actual bears on the ice.
Don't tell me Gagne, Hartnell or Briere would be able to bust through that.
Boychuk: How dare he be awesome. The rest of the defense was too intimidated to perform up to par. Boychuk should've disappeared like Captain Z.
Holy shit, what about the entire team!? We know it's a crazy concept but when it comes down to it, the entire team in some form or the other is to blame for the Bruins shitacular choke. They had four chances to win one game and they couldn't do it. The only ones we're not putting some blame on for the loss would be Thomas (who hasn't played in godknowswhen), Recchi (who played every shift like it was his last) and Boychuk (who was blocking shots like it was his job... oh wait...). We're tempted to toss in Bergy in this category, too, since he had been this season's best player from start to finish, but he, too, had 0 points in the final three games and only four shots. Bottom line is there is a lot of blame to go around. 98% of the Bruins didn't come to play in this series. Fans will blame Savard. They need someone to focus on, to channel their anger. Makes the reality of what happened easier to handle. But this team failed as a whole. Injuries certainly didn't help, but how do you lose four games in a row while putting forth such putrid efforts in the PLAYOFFS?! That's not an individual effort, that's a team effort. You play as a team, and it took every man on the Bruins to blow this one.