While many Boston Bruins fans are excited about the possibilities of this season, I, for one, am not.
That's because I've been burned too many times.
And think about it: This is the Montreal Canadiens' 100th anniversary season, and though they're having a lot of problems right now, I wouldn't be surprised if they play the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs and knock the B's out.
But there are still a couple months before the playoffs start, so let's see what happens.
Still, I've been burned too many times. I've believed in this team, and each time, the men in black and gold have always found a way to disappoint me.
Let's start with the 2003-04 season, shall we?
The Bruins had an awesome rookie season from goaltender Andrew Raycroft, who went on to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year. Raycroft (29-18-9, 2.05) led the Bruins to the Eastern Conference's No. 2 seed, as they finished with 104 points, two back of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Bruins went up three games to one against the Canadiens, led by Raycroft's Game One shutout and two dramatic overtime victories.
Then the wheels fell off, as Boston lost 5-1, 5-2, and 2-0, letting the Habs win it in seven games.
After the lockout season, Raycroft slumped to a 3.70 GAA, and was banished after the 2005-06 season.
Oh, the Bruins finished with the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed in 2001-02, and again looked like they were the best team in the conference. Yet the B's fell in six games to the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, as Montreal goaltender Jose Theodore outplayed the Bruins' Byron Dafoe.
The Bruins outshot, outchanced, and practically dominated the Canadiens, but Theodore was stellar in winning the fifth and sixth games, both by 2-1 scores. To make things worse, the series-winner was scored by the Habs with Joe Thornton in the penalty box in Game Six.
Dafoe? He wanted more money in the off-season and went to the Atlanta Thrashers, where he would suffer through two awful and injury-plagued seasons before retiring.
Serves him right.
In 1995-96, the Bruins re-acquired former Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalie Bill Ranford, who went 12-3-2 down the stretch for Boston. Yet Ranford was completely outplayed by the Florida Panthers' John Vanbiesbrouck as the Bruins fell in five games in the opening round of the playoffs.
At least it wasn't against Montreal this time. Oh, right. Panthers captain Brian Skrudland used to be a Hab.
One year before that, there was more hope as the Bruins had won eight of 10 to end the season, and got a superb season from rookie goalie Blaine Lacher. Boston was No. 1 in penalty killing, and No. 4 in power play efficiency. Their first-round opponent? The New Jersey Devils, who were 16th and 23rd in those categories, respectively.
Yet the Bruins got shut out in the first two games at Boston Garden, and fell easily in five.
In 1993-94, the Bruins took a 2-0 series lead in the second round against the Devils, winning both games in New Jersey. But they let the Devils win four straight.
And oh, the Devils were led by ex-Canadiens Jacques Lemaire (behind the bench) and Stephane Richer and Claude Lemieux. In fact, it was ex-Hab Richer's breakaway goal in overtime in Game Four in the 1994 series that proved to be the turning point.
The Bruins won the division in 1992-93 and were the second-best team in the regular season. But the B's fell in a four-game sweep in the opening round against Buffalo, in the Stanley Cup's 100th season.
That spring ended with the Canadiens winning yet another Cup.
I wasn't around for this one, but back in 1983-84, the Bruins were 49-25-6, tied for the best record in the conference with the New York Islanders (though the Isles had the tie-breaker with 50 wins). In the first round of the playoffs, the B's took on the Habs, who won 14 fewer games and had 29 fewer points.
Of course, Habs rookie Steve Penney--who had never won an NHL game in his life--beat the Bruins in three straight to eliminate Boston in the best-of-five.
In the early 1970s, the Bruins finished in top spot in the league three times, winning the Stanley Cup in 1971-72. But in those other two seasons, they suffered through embarrassing losses--once in the first round to those Habs again, and the other time to the upstart expansion Philadelphia Flyers in the Finals.
Boston would finish in first place in its division four more times the rest of the decade, but in three of those seasons, were eliminated by the Canadiens.
So, Boston is sitting pretty now in first place in the Eastern Conference, but I've seen and heard this story before...
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