Let’s stop with any excuse making and let’s stop counting posts, and let’s start with something clear and direct:
The Canadiens are playing better than the Bruins are right now, and they might simply be the better team.
Possessors of a seemingly distinct advantage in 5-on-5 play entering last night’s game in Montreal, the Bruins dropped a 4-2 decision to the Canadiens in Game 3 of the teams’ best-of-7 playoff series. The Canadiens now lead the series, 2-1. All four Montreal goals came at even strength in a contest that featured a mere two power play opportunities – one for each team – making the final conclusion rather easy.
The Canadiens are faster. And they are more skilled.
What the Bruins do to combat that is anybody’s guess, but they can start by putting the puck in the net and getting a timely save or two from their goaltender. The second and third goals scored by Montreal last night came on breakaways from the otherworldly P.K. Subban and the rather pedestrian Dale Weise, the latter of whom did not possess a single shootout attempt during the regular season and has scored 10 goals in 152 career regular season games.
Prior to the start of this series, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli expressed some level of annoyance over questions about the Bruins’ relative lack of speed, insisting the Bruins were a blended, multitalented team. Yet, the simple truth is the Bruins have had relatively little room to truly operate in this series, resulting in a flurry of flailed scoring attempts because their feet and hands simply aren’t quick enough.
How else to explain Milan Lucic’s whiff in Game 1 or Carl Soderberg’s swing-and-miss last night? The game is moving too fast for them. The puck is moving too fast for them. Meanwhile, Montreal is gaining possession and bolting off to the races, then beating Tuuka Rask through the dreaded 5-hole.
So you tell me:
Is that anything close to a fluke?