After the celebration of the 2011 “break up day” last June, the Boston Bruins were quickly snapped back to the harsh reality of what normally constitutes a locker clean out day for most NHL squads. During which, the B’s brought to light the injuries that hampered them throughout the postseason as well as their reflections on both their first round exit and the 2011-’12 season as a whole.
While the most prominent emotion echoed throughout the locker room on Friday was of shock and disappointment, there also seemed to be a bit of collective “relief” in the fact that they’d now get the chance for some time to recuperate and re-energize after partaking in 196 games over the course of the last eighteen months.
“As players, we need to take full advantage (of the extended off-season), to get our rest and get focused and geared up for next year.” – Milan Lucic
“It’s been a long couple of years and right now I think the best thing to do is just rest. We have to use it to our advantage.” – Brad Marchand
“If there’s one positive to take out (of the long off-season), it’s that everyone can recover.” – Dennis Seidenberg
After eighty-two regular season games in 2010-’11 followed by twenty-five playoff contests en route to the team’s first Stanley Cup championship in nearly four decades, the Bruins had the benefit of only two-and-a-half months of summer before returning to training camp in early September. Couple that with the eighty-two games that comprised this year’s slate and the seven playoff meetings with the Washington Capitals and the B’s seem to have been playing nonstop hockey for nearly a year and a half. Milan Lucic even compared it to the type of grind baseball players endure on a yearly basis while playing through an extraordinarily long 162-game schedule.
“It almost felt like one long season. It was almost like a baseball season.” — Milan Lucic
Tasting first round defeat for the first time since an April evening at the Bell Centre when they were the eighth seed in 2008, there is little doubt that the Bruins came up far short of what they expected to achieve this season. Workhorse defenseman Dennis Seidenberg described the thought of being eliminated so early as leaving him “with an empty feeling” — an emotion that’s likely uniform around that locker room.
An old adage that’s become commonplace in sports is that “you have to learn how to lose before you can learn how to win”. As any fan of the Black and Gold will attest, the Bruins have certainly been dealt their fair share of heart-wrenching defeats. The most obvious of which being the historic collapse of May 2010 against the Philadelphia Flyers. In a sense, the Bruins had to endure the hardships of losing playoff series’ in the manner they did in order to learn exactly what it would take to bring home the Stanley Cup, as they did in 2011.
Now, after another crushing game seven home-ice defeat — their third in the past four years –, the Black and Gold squad will look to use their early exit this spring as added motivation to fuel their attempt to re-capture Lord Stanley in 2012-’13.
“In the future it definitely gives you that extra drive, that extra motivation to get back to where we were (in 2011). It makes you appreciate more and more what happened here last year. It gets that fire boiling inside.” — Milan Lucic
“Watching those games (the remainder of the playoffs) makes you want to be there next year. It makes you want to be part of it and be playing for the Cup again next year. It definitely helps us to get that hunger back.” – Dennis Seidenberg
Successfully repeating as Stanley Cup champions is arguably the most difficult task in all of sports. Especially with the league’s increasing parity and competitiveness. An astonishing statistic to consider? 29 of the NHL’s 30 teams — sorry, Toronto — have qualified for the postseason at least once since the completion of the 2004-’05 lockout. Couple that with the pure exhaustion — that no hockey player will ever admit to — caused by playing in so many games in such a minimal time frame and it becomes near impossible to even come close to retaining the title.
With nearly their entire roster under contract for at least next season and a full off-season to recover from the wild whirlwind ride that’s encompassed these past two years, there is no reason to suggest that the Boston Bruins won’t be right back in the thick of things next spring, competing to bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Causeway Street in 2013.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.