MONTREAL – Reality seems to have finally sunk in that the Bruins need to improve if they hope to advance past the Montreal Canadiens in the second round of the playoffs.
It’s still early -- Boston only trails 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after Tuesday’s 4-2 loss at the Bell Centre -- but the latest loss was much more about what the B's did to themselves rather than anything the Canadiens were doing to them.
Quite simply, the Bruins weren’t ready to play at puck drop in Game 3. That’s surprising, given the atmosphere at the Bell Centre and the playoff backdrop against the hated Habs. Maybe it was a case of nerves in the loud, intimidating Montreal barn for some of the younger players, or perhaps it was a night where everything went against the Black and Gold. But the common denominator was unexplainable breakdowns in the defensive end, average goaltending, and a top forward line that never got untracked.
Separately, the Bruins could overcome any of those problems. Collectively, though, they give Boston little chance of victory.
“There were breakdowns," said Patrice Bergeron, one of the few bright spots with 10 shot attempts, a momentum-changing goal in the second period, and 17-of-28 faceoff wins. "They’re going to make you pay if you’re not aware. It’s about doing a better job.”
Clearly Bergeron did his job, but many others didn’t . . . and the mistakes piled up against a quick Montreal team that can capitalize on errors.
For starters, Kevan Miller found himself way out of position during a scramble in front of the Boston net and left Tomas Plekanec open for a clean shot at a backdoor goal that opened the scoring.
Perhaps the worst and most egregious mistake was next: P.K. Subban, after serving a two-minute penalty for roughing, came out of the penalty box and was sprung for a successful breakaway scoring chance. There was no stick-tapping warning from Tuukka Rask when Subban’s penalty was about to expire, and no yelling from the Bruins bench to warn the power-play unit that the Montreal defenseman was free to roam. That may explain Dougie Hamilton’s puzzling decision to speed across the ice to take out puck carrier Lars Eller, which created a wide-open lane for Subban to break in all alone on the Boston net.
A similar second-period gaffe by Andrej Meszaros and Johnny Boychuk allowed Dale Weise to sneak behind them and pot his own second-period goal, giving Montreal a 3-0 lead.
“Certainly we dug ourselves a hole that was too big to get out of tonight,” said coach Claude Julien.
And if they hope to continue their Stanley Cup run, it can't happen again.