Let the joy and sorrow begin

As a Boston Bruins fan, it’s the best of times and the worst of times.

The NHL playoffs kick off tonight and of course most local fans will have their hopes pinned on the Vancouver Canucks finally climbing the mountain and hoisting the Cup.

But as we all know the playoffs don’t always deliver what the regular season promises.

Add to the fact that the Canucks face the Chicago Blackhawks and the stakes and pressure only rise.

The Canucks’ fan base is a fickle bunch. Should Roberto Luongo have a rough game, they’ll be calling for Corey Schneider to step in. Should the Sedins be held pointless for a couple of games the fans will say they can’t perform in the playoffs.

Such is the nature of Canadian hockey fans in the post-season. Hopes are high, hopes are dashed and then there’s next year.

Personally as a life-long Bruins fan, the team’s implosion against Philadelphia last year ranks of one the biggest disappointments in all the years I’ve cheered on the team.

Of course, Bruin fans will tell you the biggest letdowns come against the Montreal Canadiens.

And since Boston and Montreal square off in Round 1 starting on Thursday too many of those moments are conjured back up, much to my chagrin.

I lost my first ever bet, 25 cents, on the Bruins when a rookie goalie named Ken Dryden stonewalled the Big Bad Bruins in 1971.

The most memorable NHL game I ever attended was in 1979. I was lucky enough to be at the Montreal Forum for Game 7 of the semifinal series between Boston and Montreal.

I was unlucky enough to witness the Bruins blow a second-period lead, Montreal score on the power play late in the game to force overtime and Yvon Lambert pot the OT winner to win the series and move on to the final.

Even when I moved out West in the late 70s I was unable to escape the dreaded Habs’ rule.

See HARD, Page 13

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Sure there have been a few Bruin victories since then but just when I got cocky, especially during the 2004 series when Boston went up 3-1 after Alexei Kovalev’s overtime gaffe, Montreal still found a way to rally and take the series in seven games.

Adding insult to injury, it marked the first time Montreal had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in team history.

So as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter where a team finishes in the standings. The old cliché that the playoffs are a new season is never truer in the NHL playoffs.

And certainly true when it comes to Boston versus Montreal.

Looking around at the remainder of the first round and one has to wonder who will get upset and who will deliver.

Is this Washington’s year? I know of at least one New York Rangers fan who doesn’t hope so.

Can the Crosby-less Penguins be taken seriously, especially against a Tampa Bay team that might surprise a few people?

Philadelphia had an improbable run last year but with Chris Pronger hurting, so are their chances of repeating that feat.

San Jose has too many skeletons in its closet from past years to be taken seriously unless they make it to the final. And until then, everyone will have a wait-and-see attitude.

Detroit always starts off slow in the playoffs. But after Round 1 the juggernaut is either the team to beat or the team making tee times.

And finally there’s Nashville versus Anaheim in a series nobody will notice until it’s over. That said I’m a Glen Sanders and Carrie Underwood fan so I guess I’ll put my 25 cents on the Predators.

Picking who will hoist the Cup is as tough as picking lottery numbers. For the record, last year I said Chicago would play Pittsburgh in the final so I was half right.

So if I pick the Bruins and Canucks to meet in this year’s final, I just have to make sure of one thing – stay away from Montreal fans by the time the first round ends. Because the way history has been, for both of my picks, I might be ripe for ribbing this time.

To cap it off my co-worker, Jim Bailey, brought in a miniature Stanley Cup for his desk and he’s a Canadiens fans.

I’ll let that sign speak for itself.