By Danny Picard
BOSTON -- There's no hiding behind it. Right now, the Bruins just simply can't execute offensively.
When general manager Peter Chiarelli traded for puck-moving defenseman Tomas Kaberle at the trade deadline, he gave himself limited salary cap space to make another deal for a stud forward.
The thought was that Kaberle's puck-moving skills would be good enough -- especially on the power play -- to make the offense better. It put a lot of pressure and confidence into the guys up front.
And as we know, there's no more pressure than in the playoffs. Especially when trailing a series 2-0, a series you're supposed to be winning.
Montreal defeated the Bruins 3-1 on Saturday night at the TD Garden, taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round series, heading into Montreal for Games 3 and 4.
The blame could be pointed in a number of areas. But there's no denying that the Bruins have had a whole lot more offensive chances than the Canadiens.
Through the first two games of the series, Boston has out-shot Montreal 66-46, yet, the Habs are out-scoring the B's 5-1.
With 35 shots on Saturday night, the Bruins were able to score one goal. And make no mistake, it was a big one.
It came when Brad Marchand took a Mark Recchi pass and sent a feed of his own out front to Patrice Bergeron, who was going hard to the net with his stick on the ice.
Bergeron caught the pass, and found Montreal goaltender Carey Price down and out, cutting the Canadiens' lead to 2-1, 7:38 into the second period.
It was Boston's first goal of the series. And yet, it will stand as their only goal, entering Game 3 Monday night in Montreal.
With Bergeron's line stepping up on Saturday night, the spotlight then switched to the team's top offensive line, or at least, the line that's supposed to be the Bruins' best offensive trio.
For the second straight game, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and Nathan Horton finished each as a minus-1, with no points to show for themselves.
Some would say inexcusable. Bruins coach Claude Julien said that he's not going to "talk about individuals in any negative way" throughout the playoffs. Seeing that there's not much positive you can say about the Bruins' first line, there isn't anything to say about them at all, other than, the execution has to be better, as soon as the first period of Game 3.
"We had to work pretty hard tonight, just to get that one goal," said Julien after the loss. "I don't think the Canadiens had to work as hard to get theirs. That's basically the difference right now in the games.
"The execution of one team, compared to the execution of the other one. I'm going to stand here and tell you that the execution isn't good enough. It needs to be better. And that's what we have to do from here on in."
Julien doesn't have to sit up on the podium and point the finger. We aren't stupid. Zero points and a combined minus-6 isn't what anybody in the Bruins' organization drew up when they prepared for their first-round series with Montreal.
Bergeon gave the B's a little presence in front of the net on Saturday, by going hard at the goal with his stick on the ice. The little things do work, and Bergeron's goal is a perfect example of that.
"It was there, but obviously not good enough," said Bergeron. "I mean, one goal's not going to beat Montreal."
And no goals from Boston's top line isn't going to get the job done either.
"I thought actually after Montreal's early 2-0 lead, we hung in there pretty good," said Recchi. "We didn't lose our composure, but we just didn't execute like we're capable of. That's the biggest thing all night, the execution wasn't there."
That's been the biggest thing all series. And it needs to change soon, especially with Krejci, Lucic, and Horton. If it doesn't, this one might not be coming back to Boston.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.