BLOOMINGBURG, NY – Every day and across the globe people have problems of all sorts. They range from the physical, to financial or emotional, as we move towards a post-pandemic world. My latest sports gripe pales in comparison to life’s woes and I need to tell you all how lucky and grateful I am to be alive, so it sounds childish to rant about my team getting knocked out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs this past Wednesday. Sometimes it’s not that you lose but how you lose and that is the premise for today.
So often, we encounter match-ups in team sports where history wins out even with the change in organization personnel over the decades. The Islanders have the Penguins number in the playoffs to which I alluded to a few weeks ago as do the Fishsticks over my Boston Bruins however few the encounters. Well, another playoff ouster at the hands of the Islanders was most painful to watch. It was not the vintage Islanders adorned with five Hall of Famers who bookended their dynasty in 1980 and 1983 with series wins over the Bruins in those years. Don’t tell this current Bruins roster that it wasn’t Trottier, Bossy, Potvin, Gillies, Smith, Arbour and Torrey but rather a bunch of lunch-pail types who put in the honest night’s work for a week and a half. They strapped their helmets on, punched the clock, gut and face of the Black and Gold players, coaches, management and fan base.
This is my fiftieth year as a Boston Bruins fan. The foundation laid by Bobby Orr has in my opinion been ruined by GM Don Sweeney. Save for a one-in-a-million shot by Brad Marchand in overtime of Game 3 and Tall Matt’s Isles would have taken four in a row after dropping the first of the series. I’ve never been more embarrassed to be a Bruins fan. They were physically beaten from the word go and after watching the post Game #5 presser, I knew they were mentally beaten as well… the clinching game win was expected. Boston’s injuries had little to do with the loss since it didn’t matter to an Islanders team that hit everything that moved (starter or substitute). There was no push-back… EVER. None! Eddie Shore, Dit Clapper, Terry O’Reilly, John Wensink and the like must have been rolling over in graves or throwing up in their mouths. The four of these revered Bruins players would have thrown up their fists at the very least to let the other team know that someone cared.
There’s a pattern for the Bruins in the past three playoffs. In the 2019 Cup Final against Cam James‘ Blues, the team was worn down by St. Louis for the Game #7 loss at home, which was really a shutout save for a last minute goal in a game for which the team just didn’t show up… In 2020 the eventual Cup-winning Lightning dropped the opener but executed the gentlemen’s sweep with physicality and skill in the second round… Then there’s what happened this week; a soft team, small on defense, a horrible bottom six forward corps with little help on the way. The front office should formally apologize to the top line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak, since they can’t do things all on their own no matter how great these three future Hall of Famers are.
Message to GM Sweeney: stop drafting defensemen. You see yourself in USA-born mites from the college ranks, who can move the puck. You made a hockey career out of being Ray Bourque’s caddy for a little more than a decade! The game has gotten faster but with bigger bodies and your asking your undersized defensemen to move the trees in front of the net. How many Islander tallies were from in close?
I’ve had to endure watching the same movie three years in a row. It’s getting frustratingly old. There was no desperation in the team looking to force a seventh game – outside of the first line. The opposition wanted it more and it showed.
Blow up the organization and bring back former Rangers GM Jeff Gorton, who had nothing but success in his six-month interim job that built the Cup team in 2011.
End of rant.
This Lightning-Islanders series is gonna be a great series to watch.