The Bruins are very clearly going to be walking a thin line this season.
They have goals, of course. The Bruins want to make the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season and know it’s going to be a season-long battle in the Atlantic Division slugging it out with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs for supremacy in the East.
But there’s also going to be a need to get over what happened at the end of last season when the B’s climbed all the way to the top of the mountain and then stumbled in Game 7 at home against the St. Louis Blues. It was clear after the first few days of Bruins captain’s practices this week that the B’s are nowhere close to being over the Game 7 loss.
Nor should they be as training camp looms toward the end of next week with the Bruins rookies already getting ready in Buffalo.
“I don’t think we’re over it. I don’t think I’m over it. But you move on. You’ve got hockey to play and I think playing hockey will help. It’s something fun to do and we enjoy it,” said B’s fourth-line center Sean Kuraly. “You play some games and feel good, and try to get back there again. That’s our goal and you realize how much you want it when you get that far and get a taste. That’s at least the focus that I’ve got.
“I [replayed the Stanley Cup Final in my head] all the time and you realize that it’s not doing you any good. You’re not doing yourself any favors by doing that. But [the thoughts] come in and that’s the way life goes. You think it should be a reward to put yourself in that situation, but it ends up feeling like the biggest disappointment. You just keep working and realize people would have done a lot to get to the point we did and have that chance. We’ll do everything we can to get back there and do it again because we’re hungry to get back.”
This past spring was, of course, Kuraly’s first experience in the Stanley Cup Final. It was the third Cup Final for 33-year-old David Krejci and the second time the playmaking center has had to deal with falling short of victory. One would expect that dropping a Game 7 against a beatable opponent in the Blues would be a little different than falling in six games to a superior Chicago Blackhawks team.
That feeling of disappointment would probably be even worse for Krejci after he managed just a couple of assists against the Blues, but it sounds as if he understands the mentality needed to back to a deep playoff mindset. It’s the kind of thinking that Krejci, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara will have to pass on their younger teammates that haven’t felt that kind of epic disappointment before.
The important thing is not dwelling too much on the past, but learning whatever lessons needed after falling to St. Louis.
“I’m not over it. I don’t think I ever will [be],” admitted Krejci. “But I’m excited to start the season again, get some games and get back at it. You come across some articles, or on TV, or a specific song on the radio and it was kind of attached to that Stanley Cup Final. It brings up those memories all the time. I’m sure it will keep happening, but it’s something where you learn to live with it.
“There’s only one way out of it and that’s to go out and have a good season. You make another push in the playoffs and that’s the only way out of it. The first thing you need to do is get in a position [to make the playoffs] to use those past memories. You’ve got to make the playoffs and then go from there. We don’t need to talk about it too much. We all know what happened. We’ll just make the playoffs and make another run.”
Could Krejci be making a song reference to the “Gloria” tune adopted by the Blues during their run to the Stanley Cup?
The Bruins are certainly built to make another run in the postseason. They will be returning many of the same players from last season, but there will be hurdles, particularly early. A couple of key players in Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy are still unsigned, and another key D-men in Torey Krug will be entering the final season of his contract. Zdeno Chara, John Moore and Kevan Miller are all entering the season still healing from injuries incurred last season and the B’s veteran core is coming off a short summer after playing in 24 playoff games.
None of it is going to be easy for the Black and Gold, but they’ve got the hunger of getting so close to their goals to help push them through the tough times surely coming their way in the regular season. That will be a challenge for the Bruins, who got to within 60 minutes of their ultimate prize a couple of months ago and then fell disappointingly short.
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