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Bruins’ loss destined to prove unbearable

When a team makes history in the regular season then stumbles short of a championship, the words of Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Mike Curtis come to mind.

Curtis played most of his career with the Baltimore Colts. In Super Bowl III, the NFL champions played the AFL champion New York Jets.

At that point, “upstart” remained linked to any introduction of the AFL, particularly when it was poised to play the role of punching bag in what was officially called The World Championship Game: AFL vs. NFL.

One need not have a doctorate in pro football history to recall that the Jets defeated (stunned … shocked … dumbfounded) the Colts. Their outlandish quarterback, Joe Namath, promised a Jets victory and delivered.

Decades later, someone dared asked Curtis, an eerily ornery sort of man, how long it takes to get over such a defeat.

Curtis’ response: “I’ll let you know.”

The 2007 Patriots surely remained stunned, shocked and dumbfounded, as do their fans.

And while the 2022-23 Boston Bruins were not perfect during the regular season, surely they were too good to stumble in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Florida Panthers.

With 59.4 seconds remaining in the third period of a seventh game that seemed a far-fetched possibility, the Bruins were on a pre-destined course.

With 59.3 seconds left, they were headed to overtime.

There had to have been at least some distinct gulps in the Garden, if not on the ice then in the stands. And the fans’ gulps bore no taste of beer.

Having endured outsized disappointments before, New Englanders know a potential sports disaster when they sense one.

And this certainly qualified.

The Bruins lost 13 times during the 82-game regular season. During one stretch in March they lost three of four, which could be written off as the long grind’s inevitable potholes. Teams grow a bit weary, injuries become more bothersome, time takes a toll on every big-league club, in every sport.

They recovered quickly and blew through the remainder of the regular season winning 15 of 16 games.

When the first playoff puck dropped, none of it mattered.

Ask the 2007 Pats. Ask the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors, who won 73 times in 82 regular-season games and ultimately lost to Cleveland in the NBA Finals.

And if any Bruins, or Bruins fans, are able to shake this off, please let us know how long it took.

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