Chad Finn: The Stanley Cup Final is a fight — and you should still believe the Bruins will win out

Chad Finn: The Stanley Cup Final is a fight — and you should still believe the Bruins will win out

COMMENTARY

Boston sports fans haven’t just had it good (so good) since, oh, let’s say the evening of February 3, 2002.

We’ve had it easy.

Maybe some of us require a reminder of this, what with the Bruins currently playing for New England’s 13th major professional sports championship for since the Patriots got the Dynasty Generation started with their Super Bowl 36 stunner over the Rams 17 years ago.

It would be easy to take it all for granted, especially if you’re of a younger generation and dominance is really all you’ve known.

Maybe some of us don’t require that reminder — hopefully the majority. But I got mine Tuesday morning while plodding south on Route 1 en route to Globe HQ.

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Over on the northbound side of Route 1, just past Kappy’s liquors when you’re heading south, there’s a massive billboard that reminds us, in a familiar and perfectly sarcastic way, of how good we do have it.

Imploring the Bruins, who are tied 2-2 in their Stanley Cup Final series with the Blues after St. Louis’s 4-2 win Monday, it reads:

END THE DROUGHT

121 DAYS SINCE THE LAST TITLE

The reference, of course, is to the gap between Tuesday morning and Feb. 3, 2019, when the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl 53, a beautifully symmetrical 17 years to the day to their first Super Bowl win over the same franchise.

The Patriots’ 13-3 victory in Super Bowl 53 came a practically untenable 98 days after the Red Sox blew through the Dodgers in five games to win the World Series.

Why must the Boston sports teams make us wait so long in between championships? The duck boats’ engines practically have enough time to cool off in between parades these days.

Requite sarcasm aside, the sign offered a welcome moment of clarity, probably not the first time that has happened outside a liquor store.

Without that context, it might be easy to be frustrated about the Bruins in the aftermath of Game 4, and perhaps even a little worried. The Blues, who looked vulnerable to the knockout punch after a 7-2 loss in Game 3, instead showed up in full, bringing the fight to the Bruins.

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They were the more physical team, and it had an effect on the Bruins. David Pastrnak, who barely dodged what would have been a dirty and perhaps devastating hit by Brayden Schenn in Game 3, sometimes looked like the protagonist in a game of Frogger in Game 4.

More worrisome, a ricocheted shot chopped down Zdeno Chara (I always figured it would take an ax, or maybe lightning), and a mouthful of rearranged teeth may not be his biggest injury worry. If he’s out for Game 5, the Blues will be even more emboldened to attempt their dirty hockey deeds. The Bruins are already short on defense because of Matt Grzelcyk’s injury, and Kevan Miller is missed more than ever. Bruce Cassidy might want to consider having Stan Jonathan and John Wensick on standby for this one.

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Tuukka Rask gave up a wrap-around goal and a couple of unfortunate rebounds. David Krejci was invisible, Danton Heinen was a detriment, Sean Kuraly couldn’t win a faceoff and . . . well, it was just one of those nights.

The Bruins had a chance to break the Blues’ impressive will and set up a potential clinching victory at home in Game 5. Instead, it’s a best of three series now, and the Blues have already left them bruised.

This is going to be a fight. And you know what? We should be cool with that. Heck, we should embrace it. Because this is how it supposed to be.

There are ups and downs in just about every championship season. But man, the last couple have come fairly easy. The 2018 Red Sox won a franchise-record 108 regular-season games, then ripped through the playoffs against loaded Yankees, Astros, and Dodgers teams with just one loss in each series.

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The Patriots were no lock to win the Super Bowl last season, but they saved their best for last, limiting a Rams offense so innovative and explosive in the regular season that they made the Air Coryell Chargers look like 1921 Green Bay Acme Packers by comparison to 3 measly points.

There was some suspense on the journey to those recent titles, sure. And there have been scattered frustrations during this era, with five championship game or round appearances ending in defeat (three for the Patriots, one each for the Bruins and Celtics).

But they haven’t been quite as hard-fought as what the Bruins are facing now. And that’s all right. The Stanley Cup playoffs are the grind of all grinds anyway, with four seven-game rounds that stretch the postseason from mid-April (the Bruins’ playoff opener, a 4-1 loss to the Maple Leafs, was played April 11) through mid-June.

It’s always hard. It’s designed to be hard. And it’s going to be hard for the Bruins to win two of the next three.

But don’t you still believe they will? You should. This team is tough, deep, and resilient, and they’ve proven it again and again during this ride.

They were tied 2-2 with the Leafs. They were tied 2-2 in the second round against the Blue Jackets. Heck, when they won the Cup eight years ago, they trailed the Canucks 2-0 and 3-2 in the series, and had to win Game 7 on the road. The Bruins are home for Games 5 and 7. The advantage is theirs.

I still expect them to seize it. I expect to see Tuukka Rask win the Conn Smythe Trophy, David Backes to celebrate achieving here what he could not in St. Louis, and to see Chara drinking from the Cup with a straw.

You should, too. We’re used to winning championships around here. Sometimes we need a reminder of what it takes, even if it probably shouldn’t require a billboard.

Published at Tue, 04 Jun 2019 16:11:04 +0000