If their incredible Game 7 comeback against the Maple Leafs drew a parallel between the 2013 Bruins and the Scott Brosius- and Derek Jeter-led Yankees of 2001, in the way they symbolized the resilience of a region recently targeted by terrorists, then Monday night we in Boston learned what a Luis Gonzalez broken bat feels like.
It stung, badly, when Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland scored 17 seconds apart to deny the B's a chance to play a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals and simultaneously made champions of their Blackhawks. But that sting shouldn't diminish any appreciation Bruins fans have for a team that put everything into these playoffs. Nor should it diminish the appreciation fans throughout this area should have for everything the teams of this city have accomplished during the amazing age of sports theater they continue to enjoy.
Because nowhere in the country has it been even close to as good for even close to as long.
Yes, adding Monday to two last-minute Super Bowl losses and the forfeiture of a fourth-quarter lead in the deciding game of the NBA Finals makes it a rather excruciating way in which Boston has now lost four of its six trips to the title round of America's four major team sports since 2008 -- but think about that for a moment. Boston's teams have been among the last two standing six times in the last five and a half years. They've won two championships. They were minutes away from three more championships. And if things hadn't melted away so quickly on Monday, either of those numbers might've been added to by midnight Wednesday.
As Boston.com columnist Chad Finn wrote in his terrific summation today, "Only the habitual self-defeatists among us require or desire a list of the most painful recent defeats in Boston sports lore. They will revel in parades that will never happen and banners never to be raised."
Instead, let's revel in the opportunity. In the excitement. In the drama. In all the times over the past 11 years that sports have sent chills dancing down our spines, not only because of what was happening but because a championship was truly at stake. There are plenty of good sports towns across this country where fans can count those occurrences over that span on one finger. There are others that can count them all on one hand.
We can't even count all of ours on two.
The Bruins' run to the Cup Finals was Boston and New England's 11th visit to either the NHL, NBA, NFL or Major League Baseball championship round since the Patriots ushered in this era back in February 2002. In that time, no other area has made more than eight such appearances. And New York/New Jersey are only that close when combining those two locations based on the location of the Meadowlands -- which gives that region a pool of nine teams from which to draw. Here's a look at the most frequent finalists:
Only Boston and New York/New Jersey have been to the finals in all four sports since 2002 -- despite the fact that 13 markets nationwide have teams in each of them. And though Boston has in fact lost four of six, after winning its first five, it still has a decided edge in championships over the past 11 years. The Obnoxious Boston Fan boasted today, "11 title shots. 7 championships. Top that, anyone" -- and no city can, at least in terms of champagne bottles uncorked:
Below is also a look at the champions since 2002 in map form, with each pin representing a title (and seeming to justify any perceived East Coast bias among the media). The clustering would be even more concentrated in the Northeast on a map of titles appearances, so as much as it stings today, take a moment to observe -- and appreciate -- what the map shows. Over the past 11 years, Boston has been the most successful sports town in the United States.
And, even in defeat, the Bruins just reminded us that it still is. So enjoy it.
The author is solely responsible for the content.