Well, here we are: Game 5 in Montreal with the season on the line.
While this is certainly a position no Bruins player, fan, or coach wants to be in, it's a situation many knew we would more than likely face after drawing season-long bully Montreal in Round 1.
I have said all season, however, that losing in the first round of the playoffs would be nothing for the B's to hang their heads about.
This is a team that probably shouldn't be where it is today. It's a team that has struggled through injury, hardship, and a lack of scoring punch all year. It's a team that lost arguably its best playmaker in Patrice Bergeron back in October, but found a way.
It's a team that saw Marc Savard and Chuck Kobesew—the two best offensive playmakers all season—suffer serious injuries in the regular season's last eight games, but still found a way to get into the playoffs. It's a team that has a lot to be proud of.
And even in this series, despite being down 3-1, the Bruins have shown a lot of spunk and pride.
After a disappointing and uninspiring 4-1 loss in Game 1, the Bruins fought back down 2-0 in the third Period of Game 2 to force overtime. They rallied on the road and made Montreal work for it.
Although Alexei Kovalev netted the OT winner, sending Montreal back to Boston up 2-0, you could tell the Bruins were sustaining longer stretches of pressure skating and checking. They were forcing the action much more, rather than sitting back on their heels and waiting for Montreal to bring the pressure to them.
This translated into a win—the first of the year against Montreal—in Game 3, one that many Bostonians say brought life and passion back into the place we used to call "The Garden."
Sentiments and emotions tied to old Boston hockey teams—ones with Orr, Esposito, Neely, and Bourque—were conjured up in that emotional Game 3, almost so much so you could feel momentum swinging. Almost...
With the season realistically hinging on Game 4 from The Garden, the B's season-long struggle to score goals reared its ugly head once more.
Tim Thomas and the defense played admirably, save for a Patrice Brisbois goal with 42 ticks left in the second period. It was a shot that Thomas didn't seem to see clearly, as it was shot behind a cluster of bodies in front of the net. It was a shot that deflated the home crowd and ignited those imposters in The Garden wearing red, white, and blue sweaters and waving Canadian flags.
The Bruins couldn't recover from that goal. The boys in Black and Gold were unable to sneak one past Carey Price and the Canadiens hopped on their plane back home with a 1-0 win.
Maybe with a healthy Bergeron and Savard the Bruins would have been able to create more high percentage scoring opportunities. Maybe with one more free agent scorer the B's would have been able to more effectively pressure the Montreal defense.
They just needed that extra intangible strength that makes playoff teams click, and they didn't have it.
So for now the B's will just have to just settle for what they have in the locker room: a tireless, prideful bunch that has grinded passionately through the rigors of a long season and brought some passion back to an Original 6 hockey town.
That said, they are just too banged up and too marginal a group to break out of a 3-1 choke hold from a team that has tormented them all season.
But, like I said, that's nothing to hang your head about. Not with this year's bunch of over-achievers.
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