If you really want to know the truth, we were getting a little greedy about the whole thing.
It wasn’t a matter of if the Bruins would win the Stanley Cup. It was all about when. And where.
Would the Bruins win it in five in Chicago Saturday night? Or would they win it in six back at home on Causeway Street?
Six would be nice, we reasoned. The Bruins haven’t won the Stanley Cup on home ice since Mother’s Day 1970, when Bobby Orr flew through the air.
The parade route was another hot topic. Down Boylston Street seemed like a good idea. That would certainly be a triumphant moment after everything that’s happened this spring.
And who was the favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy — Tuukka Rask or Patrice Bergeron?
So many premature questions. So many premature thoughts.
And then that puck whistled past Rask at 9:51 of overtime Wednesday night and suddenly the Blackhawks were 6-5 winners, and Chicago has regained home-ice advantage in what is turning into an epic Stanley Cup Final.
Brent Seabrook’s nasty slap shot gave Chicago a 6-5 OT (what else?) victory in Game 4, and now this spectacular series is squared at two games. Three of the four games have required overtime. The aggregate score after four games is Boston 12, Chicago 11.
What a series. What entertainment. ESPN doesn’t know what it is missing (Did you know LeBron played without his headband down the stretch of Game 6?).
We’ve had triple overtime. Then we had single overtime. Then we had the 2-0 Black and Gold whitewash that had us mocking the Blackhawks.
But Chicago is not to be mocked. The Hawks are not chokers and posers like the Penguins. They are not cardboard cutouts like the Rangers. They are very good and they have backbone. They came back from a three-games-to-one deficit against the estimable Detroit Red Wings. They are 11-2 on home ice in these playoffs and they have a chance to play two of the next three games at the United Center in Chicago.
So now the Bruins are underdogs again. No more facewashing the other guy, then laughing in his face. No more broken down All-Star bands of Crosby, Malkin, Nash, and Kessel. This is going to be a lot harder than it sounded on Boston sports talk radio in the 44 hours after the Game 3 shutout victory. The Blackhawks got the Bruins into a track meet and outskated the locals.
“This was a little too wide open for a Stanley Cup game,’’ said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. “They are pretty skilled. You can’t sit back.’’
“This felt like a run-and-gun kind of game,’’ said Boston’s Johnny Boychuk.
Indeed, this is not the way Claude Julien wants his team to play against the speedy Blackhawks. The Bruins committed a lot of turnovers and allowed too many odd-man rushes. The Blackhawks were aggressive and desperate and it paid off.
The Blackhawks scored first on a shorthanded goal by Michal Handzus, owed largely to Tyler Seguin’s carelessness with the puck inside the blue line. It was Chicago’s first goal since the first period of Game 2, a stretch of more than 129 minutes, more than two full games. There would be five more before midnight.
“They came out hard,’’ said Julien. “Give them credit.’’
The Bruins tied it, 1-1, when Rich Peverley fired a wrister that found the back of the net after Brandon Saad fell down and put the puck on Peverley’s stick. This was the kind of momentum swing the Bruins needed to get back on course for a second Stanley Cup in three seasons.
Chicago regained the lead when Jonathan Toews tipped home a one-timer by Michal Rozsival at 6:33 of the second period. Two minutes later, Patrick Kane made it 3-1 on a backhanded rebound. It was the first time the Bruins trailed by more than one goal in any game since the famed three-goal deficit in the third period of Game 7 against Toronto.
The Bruins cut the margin to 3-2 when Milan Lucic backhanded a rebound after a Zdeno Chara shot. Chicago answered less than a minute later when Marcus Kruger scored on a two-on-one with Michael Frolik.
The Bruins cut the deficit to 4-3 with 2:38 left in the second when Bergeron banged home a loose puck after Chara’s shot tipped the crossbar, hit the glass behind the net, then bounced in front of the crease.
It was frenetic for the rest of the second with the Bruins throwing a barrage of shots at Corey Crawford. It gave Crawford something to think about before the third period.
The Bruins tied it in the third minute of the third period on another goal by Bergeron. This one was all Jaromir Jagr. The ancient Czech used his ample butt and long arms to control the puck behind the net, playing give-and-go with Bergeron until Bergeron beat Crawford with one-timer from the slot.
Chicago’s turn: Patrick Sharp made it 5-4 with a rebound from out front. Less than a minute later, Boychuk beat Crawford with a Nolan Ryan slap shot from the Stanley Cup Final logo to make it 5-5 with 7:46 left in regulation. It felt like overtime already.
The Hawks prevailed in OT. Again. And now everything has changed. The series resumes in Chicago Saturday night and the Blackhawks are favorites. Again. We are no longer debating parade routes or which Bruin will be MVP.