Olympic hockey was so captivating that I've had trouble, even all these weeks later, coming back to the NHL. And I've really had trouble coming back to the Boston Bruins.
For those who haven't followed the Bruins lately--and that's probably everybody in the world except for maybe 20,000 Boston-area residents--trust me when I say that they're heartless, gutless and mostly worthless. Oh, I haven't switched my allegiance. I couldn't do that. I'm just fed up with what has mostly been an uninspired season from a bunch of guys who haven't seemed to care much about wearing the spoked B.
So, when the B's played a big game in Atlanta tonight, with both teams vying for the final spot in the playoffs, I wasn't going to watch...but, of course, I did. And I got into it. I cheered goals; I breathed sighs of relief at each save by Bruins goaltender Superfly (my nickname for him...) Tuukka Rask. And here's the worst part--the B's won (in a shutout), and in doing so they took a pretty important step toward guaranteeing a first-round playoff exit.
That's the worst part. The Bruins are only going to disappoint me. It's what they do. The best Bruins team in years crashed out in the second round of the playoffs last season and left me feeling empty for much of the summer. This season's team is less healthy, less potent, more wimpy and overall far more difficult to watch. Except that tonight, the B's showed shadows of their best 2008-'09 form. Milan Lucic looked healthy and up for battle for the first time all season. Rask was very good. David Krejci was making plays all over the ice. If Michael Ryder can start finding the net, and Rask gets hot, and Krejci and Patrice Bergeron play up to their potential, the B's might just surprise...
No, no, they won't. If the B's make the playoffs, Washington, Pittsburgh, New Jersey or just about anybody they play will likely beat them in five games even if the Bruins play at their best. I know this. I have to know this. And yet I'm back, again, watching. Following. I can't quit this team; I just hope it hasn't quit on me. If tonight is any indication, Atlanta is truly awful...and the B's still have some fight left in them. (Maybe more than some--they also managed to knock off the Rangers last Sunday in another big game.) Enough fight to give me hope? Nah, but it doesn't matter. I'm back on for the ride. Again...even though I know how it'll end.