I apologize if you came here expecting our usual humor to try bring a bit of a bright spot to this situation. I can’t do it. If I was an idiotic teenage girl I might even say I can’t even.
There’s myriad excuses people are using as to why the Bruins lost. Yes, there were LEGIONS of terrible calls against the Bruins. Yes the Canadiens got away with their diving and embellishing antics. Yes, the sound of puck on metal will haunt our dreams all summer. But those are not the reasons the Bruins lost. The Bruins are the reason the Bruins lost.
Just look at how they came out in Game 7. They looked lazy and uninterested all series, but in a win or go home game they still couldn’t pull it together because the Canadiens bought property in their heads.
They couldn’t complete passes even Helen Keller could make. They constantly got too fancy and made blind drop passes right to Montreal sticks. Instead of taking what Montreal was doing to them and turning it into fuel to beat them, the Bruins just took an “if it’s broke don’t fix it” mentality while the Canadiens laughed their way to the Eastern Conference Finals.
I can understand the Bruins being frustrated by the bad calls and their fondness for hitting posts. But championship caliber teams rise above that. Look back at the series. Every time the refs made a bad call against them or every time they hit a post they pouted for the next five shifts. They became too timid, afraid to even breath on a Montreal player in fear of getting a penalty.
You CAN’T do that. The Bruins should’ve channeled their anger and frustration into smart, dominating play like they did throughout the regular season. If you have it in your head that the refs are going to call everything on you, make a hard but clean hit and at least punish the Canadiens on the way to the box. Wear them down. Don’t do what the Bruins did and become putty in Montreal’s hands.
But instead the Bruins tucked their tails between their legs and went back to the bench asking Mother Julien to hug them and tell them it was all going to be okay and that the refs are just big giant meanies.
The Bruins are a better team. That isn’t my bitterness or anger talking. But much like our pal Jesse Marshall explains in his excellent post detailing how teams figured out to beat the Penguins, the Canadiens drew up the blue print for how to beat the Bruins. And their blue print was flawless.
What Montreal just did in this seven game series is force the Bruins to beat themselves. As much as it KILLS me to give the Canadiens credit, I just have to.
All season long the Bruins lacked discipline against the Canadiens. They never learned from their mistakes and in these playoffs Montreal decided to use that against them on a grander scale.
On the surface you look at all the after whistle stuff and behind the play stuff the Canadiens do and you just want to punch all their throats. But it wasn’t just them being cowardly dicks. It was their strategy. The Bruins may be the toughest team in the NHL, but that “tough guy” mentality was used against them. Against the Canadiens, the Bruins just can’t let even the smallest infraction go. It’s like they buy into their own hype and say “hey, that ‘lil guy pushed me! I can’t let him get away with that!” And then the Bruins commit a stupid penalty.
For every after whistle cross check the Bruins received that they just should have walked away from, they pushed back or threw a punch and went too far and ended up in the box. I bet even Montreal couldn’t believe that the Bruins never caught onto this strategy.
And Montreal cleverly used this over and over and over. And the Bruins fell for it over and over and over. You have a guy like Gallagher who you KNOW is going to do anything to get under your skin and instead of laughing it over the Bruins cut themselves open and invited Gallagher in. Even Chara, who should have been setting an example for his team, was suckered into it.
Because they just couldn’t simply walk away, now they’re walking towards a golf course. It was evident in Game 6. The Bruins didn’t lose the series tonight. They lost it up in Montreal on Monday. Game 6 just showcased how deep the Canadiens burrowed into Boston’s psyche an cast the brightest spotlight on the Bruins inability to counter. Coming into tonight they just looked like a team that was already defeated. And thanks to the Canadiens strategy they were.
They Bruins took most of their shots from the outside, rarely getting in Price’s face or driving the net. The Bruins played like a team that thought they had no chance of winning and was just going through the motions. Even the god-like Patrice Bergeron fell victim to this. That’s how badly the Canadiens outsmarted the Bruins.
Like I said…Montreal literally made the Bruins beat themselves. Even look at the mind games before Game 7. Montreal kept talking about how the Bruins disrespected them, how they’re bullies, etc. And at first I thought this was just the Habs whining yet again. But it wasn’t. They knew their quotes would get back to the Bruins. They knew the Bruins had more pressure on them than Montreal did and they knew that by poking the bear in the way that they did they would mentally defeat the Bruins. But most importantly, the knew the Bruins would try to respond with extra and unneeded physicality.
And you could see it in every shift. Bruins lost all the puck battles. They lost too many faceoffs. They gave Montreal too many great chances because they were going after players and not going after the puck. Montreal used Boston’s reputation against them. Simple as that. That is why the Bruins lost this series.
A series loss to Montreal always leaves a disgustingly bitter taste in your mouth, but this time it was so much worse. Montreal mentally and physically broke the Bruins down. Game 7 looked like the Winnipeg Jets threw on Bruins jerseys and went out to play Montreal.
Montreal smelled blood in the water and just kept pushing the Bruins buttons. Don’t poke the bear? Montreal did. And the bear didn’t fight back. It keeled over. Montreal used the Bruins own pride against them. It was sad to witness. The Bruins put on a pathetic performance and rolled over and died for Montreal. Bruins need to pull a Fight Club style ending and just blow Montreal out of their heads and get their shit together.
And I feel like an idiot questioning a coach that brought a team to two Stanley Cup Finals in three years, but there were some terrible, terrible decisions.
We here at DOY are probably the biggest Thornton fan boys around but WHY after a phenomenal, momentum building shift by Bergeron’s line midway through the third did Julien put the fourth line out for an offensive zone faceoff? Why? It literally killed the momentum the Bruins temporarily built.
Soderberg was by far the best Boston player in this series. So why was a cold Krejci on the ice more often than Soderberg in critical situations?
Why was Bartkowski on the penalty kill? Why was he even on the ice at crucial moments? The playoffs are not a good time to try to build a player’s confidence back up. I completely understand the Bruins were missing some key players on the blue line but they could have and should have played so much better. In Games 1-5 a confused and lazy looking Bruins team was still barely beaten. The talent was there. The drive wasn’t.
It wasn’t just coaching obviously. Where was the first line, especially Krejci and Lucic? Did Krejci even play in this series? When did Marchand inherit Paille’s hands? When did Chara lose his ability to say or do the right thing at the right time? How many wide open nets did the Bruins fail to fill? Why was Lucic focused more on opposing players balls than scoring?
Why, why, WHY couldn’t the Bruins figure out what Montreal was doing to them and change tactics? Literally every other person who plays in the NHL or watches on TV could see exactly what Montreal was doing but for some reason the Bruins couldn’t.
Like a baby that always falls for the “got your nose” trick, the Bruins kept falling into Montreal’s trap.
What we ended up seeing was a larger Bruins team getting pushed around by a smaller Montreal team. A Bruins team that was stripped of all confidence by a masterful strategy.
This loss hurt more than any other in a long, long time. In DOY staff chat, we often talked about how in 2011 and 2013 we were obviously incredibly excited that the Bruins made the Finals, but there a few solid arguments why they might not. This year, the way the Bruins machine was rolling, we expected a Cup win. I know that sounds cocky. But they were just do dominant. It looked like they had it all together. The Canadiens unraveled that without much effort.
This series can be summed up by a quote from the cinematic masterpiece that is Baseketball: “Well, it was a team effort and it took our whole team working together to blow this one.”
It’s going to be a long, bitter off season. Hopefully the Bruins don’t overreact (and they shouldn’t). The pieces are here to make multiple Cup runs over the next few years. The Bruins just have to look themselves in the mirror and realize that walking away and being disciplined doesn’t mean you’re not tough. It means you’re smart.
Overall though, thanks for a mostly great season Bruins. There were so many great moments before this series. We obviously wish it had ended in a celebration and a parade but there will be more chances for that. We’ll miss you dearly until October. And go Rangers.