tclakin

Game Seven

In Uncategorized on April 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm

There’s a Game 7 tonight in Boston. Step outside for a minute: you can feel it. Go ahead – take a walk down Park Street, near the T stop and the Common. You’ll see them: Bruins fans, wearing Bruins hats and Bruins t-shirts and Bruins jackets, heads down, eyes nervous. One man – a man dressed otherwise for a board meeting, tan overcoat covering a suit and tie – walks quickly past Dunkin Donuts, hunched forward, bracing against the wind. He wears shiny black loafers, the kind with tassels on the top that swing back and forth with each step. On his face are expensive-looking glasses. On his wrists, silver cuff links. But on his head, looking completely out of place, as if it has fallen there by accident, the result of a joke played by the wind, sits a Bruins cap. And as he walks quickly down Winter Street, towards the financial district and another spreadsheet afternoon, the man tugs on the brim of his Bruins cap and you can tell his mind is elsewhere. I’ll bet he’s thinking about the game.

There’s a heavy tension in the city today. No one is talking much. There have been Game 7’s in Boston before, plenty of them, but this one feels different. There’s an edge to it, an edge we haven’t felt around here for a few years – since before 2004, really. Back then a Game 7 in Boston was life or death. You remember: a big playoff game meant everything else stopped – classes, dinner plans, conversations. The city coalesced around Game 7’s then. You couldn’t avoid it. Schoolteachers canceled homework. Grooms snuck away at weddings. Greater Boston ground to a halt. College kids in Maine missed final French exams, completely unaware they’d forgotten but not too worried about it, really, because, well, there was a game last night and this is the playoffs and, sorry, Professor, but you’ll just have to wait.

That’s how today feels.

We all know what has happened in this town since 2004. Somewhere along the line, the bad mojo started to seep out of our city and the floodgates of victory poured open. The Patriots won another title, and then won one more. The Sox won again in 2007. The Celtics broke through in ’08. Suddenly we started expecting victory. We felt entitled to it. We got complacent. For the Red Sox and the Patriots and the Celtics, big games weren’t life and death anymore. They were big games, sure, and the city rallied for them, but not like it once had. That gnawing fear of loss was gone. That throat-crowding anticipation was, for the most part, gone.  The curse, bless it’s black heart, was gone. And with it went a bit of our past, a bit of our collective history, a bit of this city’s soul.

But not for the Boston Bruins. For the Boston Bruins and their fans, the Fear is alive and well. Tonight at the Garden, the Fear will be tangible and it will be hungry and it will be clear that for these fans it never went away. Last year’s loss to the Flyers, up 3 games to none with a 3-goal lead in Game 7, was as bad as anything the Sox ever suffered through. Sure, Sox fans can point to 1986 and 2003 and Mssrs. Buckner and Boone, but Bruins fans will call that bet and raise you a Scotty Walker and a 2010. Bruins fans will tug on their hats and point to their jerseys that bear names like Neely and Borque and (Joe) Thornton and say, Maybe you’ve forgotten what losing feels like but we sure haven’t, and then they’ll plunk down their beers and grit their teeth and head into the Garden to face that Fear all over again.

Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself. Stroll down by the Garden tonight and take a look around. You’ll see a bunch of rowdy fans, a bunch of ready fans, and they’ll be drinking and whooping and firing fists into the night sky, but somewhere in that Boston air, floating atop the cheers and the jeers and the “Habs suck!” chants, you’ll feel a cold edge. It’ll be subtle, but you’ll feel it. You might even recognize it. Maybe you’ll think back to an October game at Fenway, pre-2004, and you’ll feel that cold breeze in your chest and you’ll remember what it was like to watch a game and be truly afraid. Maybe it’ll be like hearing an old song or smelling an old cologne, and you’ll go back, if only for a second, and you’ll think, Hey, I know that feeling.

That’s what a Game 7 feels like.

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  1. That old uncomfortable feeling is definitely back…. how many times can Montreal torture us?

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