2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Bedard: Bruins have to live knowing they didn’t play their best, and that will be tough to deal with

(Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Brad Marchand had tears streaming down his face as the final horn sounded on the Bruins' 2018-19 campaign. Inside the locker room, he was still filled with emotion and could barely muster words to describe Boston's Game 7 loss.

Jake DeBrusk, all of 22 years old, was still in his full uniform at his locker some 25 minutes after the game. His head was in his hands. He sobbed at times.

Charlie McAvoy, who just days ago talked about how the emotions of the Stanley Cup Final were a lot to deal with as a 21-year-old, was at an almost total loss for words in the aftermath.

The emotions you encounter in a professional locker room after a championship game loss are always strong. Doesn't matter if it's at a Super Bowl, World Series, NBA Finals or, in this case, the Stanley Cup Final.

But this was a bit different. There were a lot of 40-yard stares. There weren't a lot of answers. Stunned and shocked would be apt descriptive terms for the reaction in the Bruins' locker room.

And it's only going to get worse in the immediate aftermath. For as well as the Bruins played all season and, largely, during the entire postseason run, they set off into the shortest of offseasons with one devastating thought in the aftermath of their 4-1 Stanley Cup Game 7 loss on home ice to the St. Louis Blues: the Bruins' season ended in a game in which they did not come close to playing their best hockey.

That will be tough to live with, especially for the five veterans who might have seen their best chance at hoisting the Cup for the second time — Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Marchand and Tuukka Rask — flash in front of their eyes and burn out forever.

The magnificent Bruce Cassidy, who has an uncanny ability to cut through all sorts of noise and get to the heart of the matter, saw it as well.