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June 26, 2013

Bruins head into offseason after stunning loss

BOSTON — Don’t tell David Krejci that adversity makes you stronger.

Certainly not the shocking kind that left the Boston Bruins wondering how a night of hope became, in a mere 17 seconds, a long summer of disappointment.

That’s all the time the Chicago Blackhawks needed to score two goals in the last 76 seconds and win the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 victory on Monday night. For the Bruins, Sunday’s NHL draft, not a seventh and deciding game in Chicago, is the next big event.

“It’s not even a point to say that it’s going to make us stronger in the future,” said Krejci, the top scorer in this year’s playoffs. “It’s going to hurt for a while.”

What went wrong?

“I don’t know what happened,” the Bruins center said. “It just did, you know?”

Management, though, must push on through the pain.

The Bruins have no first-round draft pick. They sent that to the Dallas Stars on April 2 for Jaromir Jagr, who had no goals in the playoffs. He did have 10 assists but was limited in Game 6 by injury.

They do have key players who could become free agents — goalie Tuukka Rask, right wing Nathan Horton, defenseman Andrew Ference — plus Jagr and backup goalie Anton Khudobin.

Rask emerged as one of the NHL’s top goalies with a strong postseason. Horton had seven goals and 12 assists in the playoffs, but no goals and two assists against Chicago. Ference is a 13-year veteran and could be supplanted by Torey Krug or Matt Bartkowski. Both showed promise as rookies.

Rask is the most important member of that group. He played 36 of 48 games in the lockout-shortened season and all 22 playoff games. He was a worthy successor to Tim Thomas, the MVP of the 2011 postseason who took this season off rather than try for a second championship in three years.

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