Say what you want but the fact of that matter is, the Montreal Canadiens wanted it more.
The questions, comments and other feedback from Boston Bruins fans will progress over the next several hours, days, weeks and months over their second round exit to their hated rivals. They will be filled with frustrations over David Krejci, a noted playoff performer, being invisible in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They will vent over Brad Marchand’s goal streak in the last month and a half. They will rant over some other noted performers not stepping up when it mattered the most, like Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand.
There will be a lot of discussions on the disappointments and the acts that follow during the off-season. It doesn’t matter, though. The Presidents’ Trophy winners capped off their season in one of the most bitter ways possible Wednesday night at the TD Garden, a 3-1 Game 7 loss to Les Habitants.
Sure, if the Bruins had a better start they could’ve set the tone. If the officials weren’t as questionable with their calls, they could have played more to their physical style of play. Or maybe if Jarome Iginla - who scored the lone Bruins goal in the last two games - didn’t hit the post in the third period, the Black and Gold could’ve came from behind, again, to take over the momentum.
On the flip side, the Habs got some great goaltending from Carey Price. Sure he was bailed out by the post on more than one occasion - 11 to be exact - but Price was there on more than one occasion to bail the Canadiens out. There were guys like PK Subban, who played the villain role to perfection. There was a stellar defense that got up in the B’s faces and disrupted the shooting lanes, blocking many shots throughout the series. It was part of Michel Therrien’s gameplan that all came to fruition.
As a result, the Habs will prepare for a showdown with the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Bruins, meanwhile, will be thinking about what could’ve been.
“Oh, it feels good,” Subban said about the series victory over the Black and Gold. “I mean, anytime you’re moving on to the conference finals, it’s a good feeling, but more importantly with this rivalry and against this team.”
This is the same Subban who hoped that Game 7 was going to get “nasty and dirty” in his Game 6 postgame interview with NBCSN’s Pierre McGuire. It’s the same Subban that, in the same interview, said his team was going to be standing tall.
In the end, Subban’s team was the one standing tall. But things didn’t get “nasty and dirty” until the postgame handshake, specifically with Milan Lucic. The emotional forward got in a heated exchange with Dale Weise and Alexei Emelin. Weise accused the B’s power forward of being disrespectful during the tradition that ends every Stanley Cup series.
Maybe the Habs thrived on the Bruins being “disrespectful.” Maybe Lucic flexing his muscle to Subban in Game 5 provided them bulletin board material. Perhaps Shawn Thornton spraying Subban gave the Habs a rallying cry. Or the goal celebrations of Lucic and Torey Krug pounding the ‘spoked B’ after helping their team to a Game 2 comeback.
Either way, the Habs were a more motivated team, and that is why they are moving on.
“We all saw the muscle flexing, the helmet tossing and the water spray,” said Habs forward Daniel Briere, who delivered the dagger at 17:07 of the third period with his second of the postseason. “Those were all things we tried to use to our advantage.”
“We’re sick and tired of it. Sick and tired of, you know, people disrespecting us and not giving us the credit that we deserved,” added Subban. “We’re a good group of guys here. We’re a character group, and I think we earned that today.”
Some guys, like Lucic, were a little hesitant to give respect to the Habs. Others, like Bruins coach Claude Julien, tipped his cap to Price and the Canadiens for being the better team.
“You always got to give credit to the team that moves ahead, and I’ll tell you one thing, their goaltender Carey Price was outstanding. He gave them a chance to win every night,” said the seventh-year Bruins bench boss. “There were some nights we thought we could have come out with a win, but the way he played, he allowed that team to win every night. And certainly when you play the way he did, it gave his team a lot of confidence.”
There will be time to analyze the Bruins going forward. The short-term discussion, however, will commence with more columns on the “disrespect” from both sides in the next 24 hours or so before breakup day.
The Habs wanted it more in 2014. But, with the new postseason format, there’s no denying that the Bruins will get a shot against their hated rivals in future versions of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
More from this blog on: Playoff Central