BROSSARD, Quebec -– Claude Julien made certain not to sound the alarms despite the Bruins being down 2-1 in their series against the Montreal Canadiens, telling reporters on Wednesday that trailing in the series “was not the end of the world."
Still, the Bruins coach didn’t shy away from criticism of his team for its uneven play in the three games, and general manager Peter Chiarelli joined him later in comments at the Bell Sports Complex.
Chiarelli knows the Bruins have underachieved thus far in the series against the arch-rival Canadiens, and is still looking for their first long, dominant stretch.
“Our last game for me was a game of frustration," he said. "You can get into all of those details, but it’s a game of inches that you can dissect any way you want. I think Tuukka Rask is maybe one of the top two goalies in the world, so I expect him to play well. He’s one of many that need to play better.
“We just have to focus more on the details. Finding the [shooting] lane is one of those details. For us it’s sustaining a forecheck, and wearing teams down. When we’re at the top of our game that’s what we do, and we haven’t done that yet.”
The GM has watched his playoff scoring hero, David Krejci, get shackled by stellar defensive efforts by Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Plekanec in the first two rounds, holding him to three points in eight games. He’s watched Rask put up a substandard .884 save percentage and allow 10 goals in three games against the Habs while clearly getting outplayed by Carey Price to this point in the series.
Chiarelli has seen Andrej Meszaros and Matt Bartkowski both fail to really seize that left-side defenseman spot on the second pairing with Johnny Boychuk in ample playoff opportunities. He’s witnessed Brad Marchand miss open nets while putting up a goal goose egg in eight games, and watched his team hit seven posts in three games against an admittedly solid Price.
There’s no doubt the B’s brass has seen many things go south of their lofty expectations during the Original Six duel with Les Habitants, but that’s part of the beauty of a seven-game series: Chiarelli’s players can heed his words and make improvements against a Habs team that’s giving them all they can handle.