CHICAGO -- During the Boston Bruins' 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at United Center, Bruins president Cam Neely couldn't help feeling a little déjà vu.
Twenty-three years ago, Neely and the Bruins suffered a 3-2 triple-overtime loss in Game 1 of the Cup finals to the Edmonton Oilers on May 15, 1990. Petr Klima scored in the third overtime to give Edmonton the win at the old Boston Garden.
Neely reminisced about that game during the Bruins' off day on Thursday as they prepare for Game 2 against the Blackhawks on Saturday.
"You always look back and think about things you may have been able to do differently, but again, one of my lines I talk to myself about and said in the past is 'my rearview mirror is broken,' so there's no point rehashing that because you can't change the past," Neely said.
Neely and former teammate Don Sweeney, who is the Bruins' assistant GM, sat on press level during Game 1, and as it went into the third OT, they had flashbacks to 1990.
"Don Sweeney and I were talking during the overtime. We had some chances to finish it off just like we did way back when. Yeah, you certainly have some flashbacks," explained Neely.
Neely admitted there's one play that he still remembers from that game against the Oilers: The Bruins' Glen Wesley had an open net in the first overtime, but his backhander sailed over the crossbar.
"With Wes having that opportunity to bury it there but he put it over the net. Other than that you think of some chances that you had personally you wish you would've been able to get it by [Oilers goalie Bill] Ranford, but it didn't happen," Neely said.
He also admitted he's never watched the replay of that game.
"No," he said with a laugh. "If there was a better outcome I would have watched it."
Neely added, "It's always tough to lose in triple-overtime like that, is what I remember. But you're in the Stanley Cup finals, so it wasn't really mentally tough to recover from that, and physically it was the same for both teams."
The Oilers won the Cup in five games, but had the Bruins won Game 1 maybe the outcome would have been different.
"It's tough to say," Neely said. "Maybe it would have but it's tough to say. We played really well and I remember Ranford stood on his head that series, so it's really hard to say."
Similar to this series, there were two days between Games 1 and 2 in 1990. In Game 2, Edmonton defeated the Bruins 7-2 on Garden ice.
"They came out pretty hard that game," recalls Neely. "It's easy to say it had an effect, but we have two different teams, two different times, playing against different teams, so I just know the experience of these guys going through what they did for the run in 2011 is experience [the 1990 team] didn't have. A number of us played in '88 but we didn't have the type of run this team had in 2011."
Now that he's wearing a suit and not skates, he can still empathize with the current players after the epic battle in Game 1. No. 8 also had some advice for hockey fans as they prepare to watch Game 2.
"Hydrate and get ready for Saturday," Neely said with a smile. "I'm sure there were plenty libations, you've got to mix in some water."