BOSTON (CBS) — That was an embarrassing way to go out.
In a deciding game against their biggest rivals, the Boston Bruins came out and laid a Game 7 egg in their own building before their shocked fans.
The team that took the ice for the first period Wednesday night against the Canadiens resembled NOTHING like a President’s Trophy Winner, nor a team that wanted to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Nothing the Bruins did in the first frame made you think the game was going to end with them beating the hated Habs.
Chasing the lead in playoff hockey is losing hockey, plain and simple.
All season long the Bruins were been better than any other team when they played five on five. But Wednesday, and really the entire series, the Bruins looked like a team that was put together for a weekend over-30 tournament. The Canadiens used their speed and passing to send the Bruins to a premature vacation.
The “best” team during the regular season was hardly that when it mattered most. Their was no intimidation factor from Boston, they couldn’t slow down the smaller (but oh so much quicker) Canadien forwards, and they could not resist taking stupid and ill-timed penalties.
And last, but certainly not least, they could not put the puck in the net. When Carey Price wasn’t standing up to most Bruins shots, they shoot themselves in the foot with missed open nets, a dozen or so posts and crossbars and in some instances, not getting a shot off at all.
In the end, it was what we thought it would be: a really bad matchup for the Boston Bruins. They couldn’t handle the speed and they seemed timid and jittery far too often, especially in the first period of Game 7. Before the Bruins would register their first shot on net, less than three minutes into the game, Montreal had the lead on a Dale Weiss netmouth tip-in pass from playoff veteran Daniel Briere.
Somehow, as early in the game as it was, you had a feeling that most of us had seen this bad movie way too many times, and once again, it wasn’t going to be a happy ending for Boston.
The Bruins top line of David Krejc, (zero goals in playoffs), Milan Lucic, (an empty net goal) and Jerome Iginla (three goals, minus-three vs. Montreal) were virtually invisible. In Games 5-6-7, Lucic had two shots on goal, both coming in Game 6 as the Bruins were getting shut out trying to eliminate Montreal.
I would say Brad Marchand looked like an overwhelmed rookie, but he was pretty damn good his rookie year when Boston won it all. But Marchand has not scored a goal in 20 playoff games dating back to last postseason, and he took too many penalties against Montreal. And like his teammates, he looked lost out on the ice.
Everyone loves to blame the goaltender when things go wrong. Sure, Tuukka Rask could have and NEEDS to be better when playoff time comes around, as he was just OK this postseason. But this massive failure was a joint mission. It was a team effort in frustration and disappointing expectations.
However, give the Canadiens full marks. They used the ever popular “disrespect” card and played it to the hilt. I’m not sure who was disrespecting them, because everyone knows that when it comes to this heated and hated rivalry, there shouldn’t be any disrespect on either side. But the Habs played their game with speed and crisp passing, not letting Boston get out of their own end and through the neutral zone.
Montreal’s power play also played a big role is the Bruins demise. With the skill and cannon shots of P.K. Subban and Andre Markov on the points, and perennial Bruin “killer” Tomas Vanek down low, the Habs had eight goals with the man advantage — four alone for Vanek. The Bruins’ man-advantage had just three. Montreal sacrificed their bodies blocking many Boston shots or deflecting passes, negating several potential threats.
The Bruins’ season came to an end far too quickly with two rounds still left before someone is crowned this year’s champ. There should have been much more for them to play, and now the focus shifts to what is next. Which players have played their final game with the spoked-B on their chest? We’ll find out over the next few months.
For right now, it’s stunned silence. That anticipation of getting ready for the next game is gone.
It’s time for summer. It’s just too bad it came so early.
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