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Latest failure proves Boston Bruins suffer professional sports’ most humiliating first-round losses

What do the 2001 Seattle Mariners, 2007 New England Patriots, 2016 Golden State Warriors, and 2023 Boston Bruins all have in common? All four franchises own the records for the best regular season campaigns in their respective sports, and all four failed to win the championship during their historic seasons.

On Sunday night, the Bruins (65-12-5) fell to the Florida Panthers (42-32-6) 4-3 during overtime in Game 7 of their first-round series, failing to overcome a team that finished 48 points lower in the standings. Interestingly, the point gap is the widest in playoff history, which explains the shock and disbelief on the faces of the TD Garden faithful.

Moreover, the Bruins once led the series 3-1 and needed only one win to move on to the second round. Then, with their reputation on the line, the Bruins grabbed an early third-period lead in Game 7, only to watch it all slip away with a goal in the dying seconds and an eventual overtime tally. Sadly, the team dropped three straight games and bowed out of the playoffs much earlier than expected.

Historically, they are the greatest team in professional sports history to fail to make out of the opening round of the playoffs. Perspectively, the Mariners lost to the New York Yankees in five games during the American League Championship Series, coming within three wins of their first World Series appearance.

Meanwhile, the Patriots were on the verge of a perfect season before falling to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, losing the game on the final drive. Then, the Warriors, on the verge of defending their 2015 NBA championship, fell to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7.

Interestingly, with the loss, the Bruins will continue the “Presidents’ Trophy Curse,” which means the league’s best regular season team failed to win the Stanley Cup again. Since its inception in 1985-86, only eight teams have won both awards during the same season, with the Bruins failing to win it all the four times they won the Presidents’ Trophy.

Related: Top 5 current NHL players who could retire with a Stanley Cup win

Now, the franchise will spend the summer thinking about the events of the last 13 days while thinking about the future. As the players left the ice, they all took a moment to embrace their captain Patrice Bergeron, who may have played his last game in a Spoked B jersey.

Unfortunately, the future Hall of Famer, who has battled through significant injuries lately, will most likely head into retirement after suffering one of the worse defeats of his career. Sadly, this loss will sting more than the 2010 second-round loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, when the Bruins became the second team in NHL history to blow a 3-0 series lead and lose in Game 7.

Then, there was the loss in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, when the Bruins blew a 2-1 lead in Game 6, with just 1:16 left in the third period, which allowed the Chicago Blackhawks to skate with the Cup on TD Garden ice. Finally, there was the Game 7 loss in the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, when the Bruins came out flat and fell behind 2-0 early before allowing the St. Louis Blues to capture the Stanley Cup in a 4-1 victory, once again at the Garden.

Although none of those games or moments reflect poorly on Bergeron’s play or leadership, they showcase how hard it is to win in the playoffs.

Historically, only four teams have won 60 or more games in a single NHL season, and only the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens managed to win the Stanley Cup. Realistically, this year the Bruins were one of the most favored teams to win it all and lost their opportunity just 13 days into the chase. Unfortunately, this year’s first-round exit will rank among one of the most significant failures in professional sports history.

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