The reality was painful for some players, and perhaps a relief to others. After playing 196 hockey games over the last 17 months, the Bruins find themselves eliminated from the first round of the playoffs for the first time since Claude Juliens first season in Boston.
The series loss to the Capitals was one they were favored to win as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. They had dreams of repeating as Cup champs dancing through their heads, but it wasnt meant to be.
The reality was more than some could wrap their brains around in the home dressing room after it was all over.
We . . . were kinda used to going on all the way, you know? said Johnny Boychuk. To be done now its like . . . its kind of hard to even understand. Its like you cant even believe its over right now.
Dennis Seidenberg was one of the few Bruins players that excelled at a high level throughout the seven-game series, a credit to his mental toughness and the genius of German engineering. But even he said it was stunning to think there will be no practice or team meetings for the Bruins on Thursday.
Its such a weird feeling. You play hard and its a tight game and suddenly a bounce goes against you. Suddenly the seasons over, said Seidenberg. For the first few minutes, and even right now, youre wondering what time practice is tomorrow. But there is no practice. I mean its going to be a long summer and we have to get ready for next year again.
In some ways perhaps a first round exit isnt such a bad thing in terms of motivation. The Bruins have enjoyed five straight seasons of playoff appearances and climbed the mountaintop to win the Stanley Cup last season. A reminder of how difficult the path can be was probably in order.
So now the Bruins think about things for a couple of days. They will say their final goodbyes on Friday while they pack up their bags, conduct exit interviews, and get their final physicals. Then theyll be scattered off to the four corners of the world while eight NHL teams continue on a journey the Bruins fully expected to be taking once again.
Sometimes its not so bad to be denied what you want, and it should make for a revamped Bruins team thats just a little more dialed in next year.