Bruins planned for more than early exit from playoffs

The Boston Bruins had plenty of reasons to believe they could win their first Stanley Cup in 37 years.

BOSTON — The Boston Bruins had plenty of reasons to believe they could win their first Stanley Cup in 37 years.

They allowed the fewest goals in the NHL and scored the most in the Eastern Conference. They posted their most wins since that championship season with two of the best players at their positions, goalie Tim Thomas and towering defenceman Zdeno Chara.

They tossed aside the Montreal Canadiens in a first-round playoff sweep.

Boston was on a roll until the Carolina Hurricanes arrived into town. The Bruins split the first two games at home then lost the next two on the road. They rallied to force a seventh game where momentum and fans were on their side.

The final goal wasn’t.

“It’s just a sad way to end it,” Chara said after Carolina eliminated the Bruins 3-2 on 14-year veteran Scott Walker’s first career playoff goal at 18:46 of overtime Thursday night. “We had different goals and much higher goals and better expectations and it’s just a tough one.”

The top-seeded Bruins may have been hurt by the nine-day layoff between series.

“This time of year they don’t want to practice, they want to play,” coach Claude Julien said. “We might have lost a little bit of our focus and our edge.”

The only game in which they dominated Carolina was a 4-0 victory in Game 5 when a loss would have meant elimination.

The Hurricanes were the faster team but were only seeded sixth, though they still have 10 players from their 2006 championship squad. And they passed a big test in a seven-game opening series against New Jersey when they scored twice in the last 80 seconds to come from behind in Game 7.

“They came up against us and did it again,” Julien said, “dramatic win in overtime and you have to give them credit.”

The series may have come down to Walker’s swipe at the puck that just slipped by Thomas’s left shoulder, but the Hurricanes had better opportunities in overtime.

The Bruins did have four power plays in regulation but failed to score.

“They had a game plan and they stuck to it,” said Marc Savard, Boston’s top regular-season scorer. “Unfortunately, at times, we swayed away from ours.

“We’re paying for it now.”

The Bruins have made great strides since consecutive fifth-place finishes in the Northeast Division under Mike Sullivan and Dave Lewis.

Julien took over before last season and led them to the final playoff spot in the East and a first-round series in which they pushed top-seeded Montreal to a seventh game. With almost all their key players returning, they zoomed all the way to top of the conference this season.

In one 46-game stretch — more than half the season — they were 37-6-3. They were just 6-9-4 in their next 19 games but followed that with an 8-2 season-ending surge.

The Bruins had three strong defensive pairings, led by Chara and Aaron Ward, four solid lines and the Vezina Trophy-candidate goalie with the league’s best goals-against average.

Just Posted

Walmart experiments with AI to monitor stores in real time

LEVITTOWN, N.Y. — Who’s minding the store? In the not-too-distant future it… Continue reading

Precision Drilling reports first-quarter profit, revenue up from year ago

CALGARY — Precision Drilling Corp. says it earned a profit in its… Continue reading

Federal government offers provinces 50/50 split on abandoned bus-route service

VANCOUVER — The federal government will split funding for bus service on… Continue reading

Manitoba files separate court action over federal carbon tax, seeks review

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government has filed its own court challenge of… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Swole, buzzy, among new words in Merriam-Webster dictionary

BOSTON — Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and… Continue reading

Most Read