Canadiens Take Game Seven & Series
Thursday, May 15, 2014
This one hurts!
It's one thing to bow out of the Stanley Cup Finals earlier than expected. It's quite another thing to suffer that early exit in game seven on your home ice at the hands of your hated rivals.
The Montreal Canadiens jumped out to a 2-0 lead over the Bruins at the TD Garden and they were able to hold off the late-charging Bruins. The Habs beat the B's 3-1 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals where they will face the New York Rangers.
Like in game six up in Montreal, the Canadiens lit the lamp early Wednesday night when David Weise scored his third of the postseason just over two minutes into the game. It gave the Habs an early 1-0 lead and took the life out of the TD Garden.
Boston went six minutes in the first before finally getting their first shot on Montreal goaltender Carey Price. The B's did end up outshooting the Canadiens 9-6 in the period.
In the second period, Montreal would up its lead to 2-0 when Max Pacioretty scored his second goal in as many games midway through for a 2-0 Habs advantage.
That goal seemed to put the Bruins in desparation mode and they responded accordingly.
Torey Krug's wrister from the top of the left circle was tipped in by Jerome Iginla at 17:58 of the second cutting the deficit to 2-1 and bringing the TD Garden crown to life. Like in the first period, Boston also outshot Montreal in the second 13-8.
The B's continued to put the pressure on Montreal in the third and had a golden opportunity when Iginla couldn't stuff home the rebound of a David Krejci shot early in the period.
Montreal put the nail in Boston's coffin with 2:53 remaining in the third when Daniel Brierre scored on the power play for the 3-1 final.
-So why did the Bruins season end earlier than expected? There are a few things that contributed to their early exit. First, let's give credit where credit is due. The Montreal Canadiens played well in this series - better than the Boston Bruins. Much like the 2001 NFL season, the St. Louis Rams were the better team during the regular season, but in the Super Bowl it was the Patriots who played better as a team. The same can be said here. While Boston was the regular season's most dominant franchise winning the President's Cup Trophy, it was Montreal which raised its game in the postseason.
One thing the Canadiens did a great job of was blocking Bruin shots from inside the blue line. The Habs sold out on virtually every posession.
Another big factor was the fact that Carey Price outplayed Tuukka Rask. While neither goalie was spectacular in the series, Price was very good while Rask turned in a rather pedestrian effort.
Boston also seemed very tight to start the game while Montreal came out flying around the ice. Boston turned the puck over seven times in the first period alone.
Maybe the biggest problem for Boston was their inability to finish off quality scoring chances around the Montreal net. The Bruins hit a total of 13 crossbars or posts in the series, many of which were situations where there was plenty of open space to put the puck into the net. Louis Eriksson may have had the most opportunities that hit iron, but Boston was also hurt immensely by a top line that did not produce in the series.
While Jerome Iginla scored twice in the series, linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic were virtually invisible in the series and that hurt the B's significantly.
And they weren't the only underachievers for Boston in the series. Boston's Brad Marchand was a non-threat offensively in the postseason and the B's 4th line was badly outplayed by Monreal's 4th line.
-Boston outshot the Habs 30-18 in game seven. Pacioretty was the game's #1 star.
-It was the 9th time the Bruins and Canadiens met in a postseason game seven. Montreal is now 6-3 against the Bruins in such games.
-The questions for Boston heading into the offseason are: 1.) What to do with Jerome Iginla and 2.) What changes need to be made? The answer to the first question seems simple. Iginla wants to remain in Boston and the Bruins would like to have him. However, there's that thing called the salary cap that the Bruins will have to deal with. As for the second question, it seems clear that the Bruins need to bring in a little more speed a la Montreal. The 4th line might be a good place to start with such an upgrade.