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(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
It took 1 minute and 17 seconds.

1 minute and 17 seconds to evaporate all the tense emotion and replace it with a stunned disbelief.

You think you've seen it all. You think you've seen the most unreal, unimaginable, brutal moments sports can offer. Yet every few days, weeks, months or years, something happens that makes your jaw hit the floor.

Monday, May 13th at the Boston Garden. The Bruins cheat death and bury the Maple Leafs behind the fury of a three-goal comeback in a 10 minute span and eventually win in overtime. The most amazing comeback in NHL playoff history.

And Monday, June 24 at the Boston Garden. The Bruins found themselves on the opposite end of a shocker.

The Bruins' season ended at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart (very) late in the third period. The latches on the box were unclasped. Philip Pritchard brought out his handkerchief and began to polish the greatest trophy in sports.

And Bruins fans everywhere sat and stood looking at what was going on stone-faced.

The 'Hawks ended the series with three straight victories, winning two of them on the Garden ice. Both of those victories coming in remarkable fashion in their own ways.

The Bruins were seven minutes and change away from sending the series back to Chicago for a Game 7. It seemed almost certain that would be the case. Milan Lucic's goal at 12:11 in the third period gave the B's the 2-1 lead.

But in the course of 1 minute and 17 seconds, the Blackhawks ripped the heart out of the Bruins and their fans and flipped Game 6 right around. An unreal turn of events.

Losing is never easy. Losing when your team has made it so far in their playoff run is not easy. Watching the other team grab that trophy and skate it around the ice in your building kills.

But this feels different. I'm so proud of this Bruins team that played their hearts out this entire playoff run. So many memorable moments came out of the 22 games played over the course of two months. The Toronto comeback. The youngbloods on the blueline coming up huge versus the Rangers. The four game sweep of the vaunted Penguins.

And the last team standing in the way of another Stanley Cup Title: the Blackhawks.

The two teams are so even. Both have heart, toughness, skill and talent. The Bruins are a defensive first team that can score goals. The 'Hawks are an offensive first team that can play defense.

(AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
In the end, the 'Hawks weathered the storm more than the Bruins. The 'Hawks flexed their muscle and put forth a performance that crowned them champions.

Its hard to hate the Blackhawks. They are a great team. They play the game right. They are a near mirror image of the Bruins in terms of playing with poise, dignity and class.You have to give them credit.

So as the dust settles, the pain and heartache comes with it. Being so close to sending the series back to Chicago for a winner-take-all Game 7 was right there. It's dissapointing. It's hard to stomach. It's hard to think about and digest.

The questions for a shorter than usual offseason can now be asked: What will become of Nathan Horton? Andrew Ference? Jaromir Jagr? Will the Bruins trade for a top-six forward? Will Torey Krug, Matt Bartowksi and Doug Hamilton be on this team come October? Will Carl Soderberg find a full-time spot in the lineup? Will Tyler Seguin finally prove that he can be a franchise player?

Those questions suck. Uncertainty sucks. Losing Game 6 and having the Stanley Cup slip through your fingers sucks. Having nothing to look forward to besides baseball and an ongoing homicide investigation sucks.

There will be no parade. No banner raised in October. No championship ring the size of a dinner plate decorated in black and gold diamonds handed out to players, coaches and staff to serve as a reminder of their hard work and dedication, but mostly to be lauded at by fans.

I'm going to go shave my beard now. I'm probably not going to be able to sleep. My first thought in the morning will be my scumbag brain shooting a lightning bolt of bad thoughts through it as soon as I gain conscience. It happens after every heartbreaking and demoralizing loss.

I hate that.




Mark Burke 6/25/2013 12:40:00 AM Edit

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