THE NEWS, coming right about the time the Bruins were sending their fans into a state of euphoria, struck with the force of a bolt of lightning in the Dominican sky.
David Ortiz had been shot in the back in what appears to be an assassination attempt in his native Dominican Republic.
Just like that, sports fans, Red Sox fans, had a potential John Lennon situation on their hands.
Lennon, of course, was gunned down on a New York street in 1980, the Beatle’s death resounding until this day.
Lennon was an icon. A legend.
Ortiz is an icon. A legend.
Papi survived through surgery and the Red Sox sent a plane for him to bring him back to his adopted home — his “bleeping city” — to continue his treatment.
“Six years ago, David Ortiz’s spirit and resolve helped us all begin to heal from the Boston Marathon bombing,” Barack Obama tweeted as heartfelt feelings poured in from all over the world. “Today, I want to join many others in wishing him a speedy recovery of his own. Get well soon, Papi.”
From teammate and friend Pedro Martinez: “I’m at peace knowing you out of danger; you a strong man Compai, can’t wait to hear your voice. My thoughts and prayers are with you, see you soon ...”
Word of the Ortiz shooting came, as we said, just as the Bruins were bringing the Cup Final back home — for Wednesday night’s Game 7, which leads us to three more tweets.
One, coming from 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Marc Bertrand, read: “There is one right answer for who should be the Game 7 banner captain. @Tom Brady wearing a @davidortiz jersey.”
Brady, reacting Monday, wrote, “Papi defines Boston Strong ... get well soon my friend!!!”
As far as the first Cup Final Game 7 ever played in Boston, my pal Phil Stacey of the Salem News wrote, “Boston’s long and painful pro sports championship drought of 129 days could finally be ended on Wednesday night. What pain and suffering we’ve endured since Feb. 3.”
The Bruins played a strong game in St. Louis Sunday night. But Tuukka Rask played a more than strong game in evening the series. Boston strong? You bet.
Rask, the goalie folks around here love to hate, continued a run that will win him the Conn Smythe Trophy if the Bruins win Wednesday night. There will be sentiment he should win it whether the Bruins win or lose, but I don’t think that will happen.
I also don’t think he’s going to lose. The crowd will be even louder, with some sort of pre-game tribute to Ortiz.
From NHL public relations: “Tuukka Rask became the 19th NHL goaltender to record 50 career playoff wins and required the 10th-fewest games (tied) in league history to do so.”
From ESPN’s Emily Kaplan: “Tuukka Rask in an elimination game this postseason: 3-0, 1.33 GAA, .953 save pct (82 saves, 86 shots). Four goals allowed in 179.81 minutes.”
From The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler: “Only five goalies have ever played 20 or more playoff games in a season with a save percentage above .940. Tuukka Rask is on his way to becoming the first to do it twice. (Jonathan) Quick, (J.S.) Giguere, (Olaf) Kolzig, (Tim) Thomas each did it once.”
His .941 save percentage in these playoffs is the third-best ever posted by a goalie with at least 17 games in that postseason.
In other words, very special.
Oh, and Rask chimed in on Papi Monday, tweeting, “Glad to hear you’re in stable condition @davidortiz. Wishing you a quick recovery.”
David Krejci, who finally got his first point in the Cup final with a late assist Sunday, was flying in that game. His underrated experience is a definite plus for the Bruins.
Trouble at Fenway
Column pal Jonny Miller asked me Friday if the Red Sox’ three-game sweep in Kansas City was a mirage or if this was the start of a Sox run.
I thought this was a time for the Sox to take three of four from the feisty Rays. But with Chris Sale not pitching, the Rays waltzed into Fenway and took three of the four, winning 20-4 in those three victories.
Through Sunday, the Sox’ record against the Rays, Astros and Yankees was 7-13. Throw in a 1-2 against the Indians and your Red Sox are 8-15 against AL contenders.
They visit the Orioles this weekend, starting a stretch of 16 of their next 29 games against the Orioles and Blue Jays. After that, it’s seven of the next 10 against the Yankees and Rays.
With J.D. Martinez, Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce hurting, the news of a Nathan Eovaldi setback was another Sunday downer at Fenway. “With Nate, we’re going to push his bullpen back,” said manager Alex Cora. “… In the last simulated game, mechanics wise, he felt off. So, yesterday, he had a little bit of soreness in the bicep, bicep tendinitis. We’ll make sure everything is fine with that. We’ll take a look at the mechanics and make an adjustment from that. Hopefully during the week he gets back on track. Until the symptoms go away, we’re not going to push it.”
Happy for Kimbrel
Heath Hembree, who has been pitching well out of the bullpen, wishes his old buddy well as Craig Kimbrel begins life as a Cubbie.
“He’s a for-sure Hall of Famer,” Hembree said. “Honestly, he’s pitched himself to be such an elite pitcher that only a handful of teams can afford him. He’s so good that it kind of worked against him. But I’m just happy to see him back on the field and see him back out there. When he’s not in the game out there pitching, it’s not right. He deserves to be on the field. So I’m excited for him.”
Wednesday night’s game will be played on the 35th anniversary of the Celtics defeating the Lakers in the seventh game of the NBA Finals, giving the C’s their 15th title.
Karson Kuhlman became the 21st Bruin to score a goal in these playoffs — the most players from a team scoring in a postseason since the 1987 Flyers had 22. By the way, Philly didn’t win the Cup that year.
Brad Marchand scored the first goal in Wednesday night’s win. The Bruins are 25-1 when Marchand scores a goal in a playoff game, 6-0 in finals (4-0 against Vancouver in 2011, 2-0 against the Blues, and he didn’t score in the 2013 final against Chicago.