For every city and every team that has ever won a championship there is always one moment after the season is done where the players and fans can look back at with 20/20 hindsight and say “That’s it! That’s the moment we went from contenders to champions.”
A brief look back at some local moments.
September 30, 2001: Some 6th round draft pick from Michigan was starting his first NFL game for the Patriots. After a 0-2 start, things looked bleak for the Pats with starter Drew Bledsoe out indefinitely after a brutal Mo Lewis hit the week before. But this trip down memory lane isn’t about Bledsoe/Brady – we are going to talk about Bryan Cox. The same Bryan Cox who in 1993 entered Buffalo’s Rich Stadium with, shall we say, two fingers up.
These Colts were on the verge of greatness. Peyton Manning was just starting to round into the QB we all know him today and this version of Colts were 2-0 averaging 43.5 points per game coming into Foxboro, playing some rookie in his first start. So it was up to the Patriot defense to make some kind of statement. Early in the first quarter, the ten year veteran Cox hit Jerome Pathon and knocked him out cold. From that point on, the Colt wideouts shied away from contact for the rest of the decade. I kid but they were no where to be seen the rest of that day. That defense carried the team while the rookie QB managed the games all the way to New Orleans when the Pats upset the Rams in Super Bowl 36
July 24, 2004 – This is the date of the famous brawl between Yankee superstar Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox catcher and captain Jason Varitek. Propelled by the animosity, the Red Sox overcame a five run deficit on this day to beat the Yankees. The Yankees did win the division and the Sox were the Wild Card that year and they met in the ALCS with the Sox winning in seven. The second big date for the Sox was game 3 while the Sox were getting blown out. Game four starter, Tim Wakefield, fell on the sword for Terry Francona and came in the game as a reliever so the team could save the bullpen for the rest of the series. Down 0-3 to the Yankees the Red Sox became the only team in MLB history to win a seven game series.
All these memories bring me to 2011. This year’s Bruins started the playoffs dreadfully. The opening round opponent, Montreal Canadiens, were a bad matchup for the B’s. The Canadiens roasted the B’s in the regular season and took the first two games in Boston.
Losing the first two games at home, the B’s raced out to a 3-0 lead in game three and with a late empty net goal, the B’s got back in the series leading me to “my Bruins moment of 2011″.
Midway through the second period, down 2-1 in the series and trying to get it back to even, the Canadiens score two goals in 55 seconds and the Bell Centre crowd was roaring. At this pace, it looked like the B’s would come back for a game 5 with the hope of staying alive in the post season.
That’s when Andrew Ference struck.
Brad Machand’s shot from the top of the circle was blocked to the middle of the slot. Ference following up the play stepped into a slap shot that beat Carey Price high glove. Then the moment that could define the Bruins post season. Said Ference afterward, “I think my glove got caught up. I can assure you that’s not part of who I am or what I ever have been. It looks awful, I admit it. I completely apologize about how it looks.”
Was it offensive? Probably.
Was it rude? Definitely.
Was his excuse total garbage? Totally. I mean look at the picture. There is no doubt in my mind what his intentions are.
Was it necesaary? From a Bruin point of view – ABSOLUTELY!
You have to remember the frenzy that crowd was in just before he scored. Two goals in less than a minute and now this. This signalled the “line in the sand” that the Bruins were putting up. This was not going to be a copy of the 2010 playoff edition that choked away the season. Since the 2008 season, this team when favored to win has not been clutch. I just mentioned 2010. Losing to Carolina in 2009 when the Hurricanes took three of the first four but the B’s fought back only to lose in OT during game 7. Even the 2008 squad was in the same 1-3 hole against the Canadiens only to lose another game 7.
The heartbeak and pain of losing game 7′s in three straight years has molded this team into a group that fights when cornered. Here we are on the eve of the Stanley Cup Finals.
Will the ”Ference flip” ultimately be the moment the Bruins went from contenders to champions?
Four words describe how I feel right now. June hockey in Boston. I really like this feeling.
About the Author
Written by Jim Mulligan