Hungry Canadiens Have the Upper Hand vs. Bruins After Forcing Game 7

Adrian DaterNHL National ColumnistMay 12, 2014

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The Montreal Canadiens won Game 6 Monday night, and they’re going to win Game 7 Wednesday night in Boston too.

The Bruins are done. This is not some lame attempt at the famed DaterJinx. I have more self-respect for the use of the Jinx than that. The Jinx can’t be manipulated. Well, it can and has in the past, but honest, this is not an attempt at one. Hardcore followers of the Jinx would be able to see through that easier than a Cheryl Tiegs swimsuit from the 1970s.

The Canadiens will win Game 7 because they are a better hockey team than the Bruins. Right now, they are.

When times were easier in the regular season, the Bruins were better. But now that the playoffs have gotten serious, the Canadiens have shown themselves just a little bit better. They’re hungrier than the Bruins. This is the biggest reason why they’ll win.

MONTREAL, QC - MAY 12: Brian Gionta #21 of the Montreal Canadiens looks on as Lars Eller #81 scores his game-winning goal against Kevan Miller #86, Torey Krug #47 and Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Sta
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Hunger? That’s not a quantifiable stat. Corsi, this is hunger. Hunger, Corsi. Now that you two have met, hunger, you will prevail Wednesday. Boston’s Corsi percentage is 63.4 percent after their 11 games of the playoffs, per Montreal’s is 56 percent.

But Montreal will still win Wednesday.

The Bruins look emotionally spent. They’re trying, they’re playing well still, they’ll say all the right things in the next 48 hours leading up to Wednesday at the TD Gah-den. There was about a 10-minute stretch in the second period of Game 6 in which the ice was tilted more in Boston’s favor than a teeter-totter meeting between 1980s Roseanne Barr and Kate Moss.

“Certainly it’s a story of missed chances by the Bruins and great, opportunistic play by the Montreal Canadiens,” analyst Mike Milbury said during the NBC broadcast. “The Bruins were all over Montreal for stretches of that period, but you’ve gotta bury it past Carey Price. He’s a good goaltender, but somehow you’ve got to find the back of the net.”

Yep. The Bruins were far better in that span during the second period. But Boston had no shot after that failed stretch, culminating with a missed gimme by Milan Lucic. Max Pacioretty outhustled Zdeno Chara to a loose puck and 5-hole goal shortly after that, and that was that. But don’t let the flurry in the second period fool you. Montreal came out and established dominance shortly after the opening puck drop. Boston had the chance to close it out, but there was just nothing there at the start.

The Bruins were shut out in a potential closeout game. Price had one bad game (Game 5), but he had the kind of amnesia for a goalie that coaches love. Just make the next save. That’s what coaches preach to goalies. Price made 26 of them Monday.

Boston has a lot of offensive problems at the moment. Loui Eriksson (minus-three) was a rumor tonight at the Bell Centre. Brad Marchand does not have a goal in the playoffs. David Krejci, according to NBC’s Pierre McGuire, said before the game to “put me down for a goal tonight” and that he was going to “explode” offensively. I knew right then and there it was going to be a bad night for him, and it was. To quote Ricky Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross, “You never open your mouth 'til you know what the shot is.”

The Bruins better pull out all the stops if they want to prove me wrong. They better have Rene Rancourt dressed in his best Mr. Sid tuxedo, with his pipes smoothed just enough to belt out one more emotional anthem. He better give it the triple fist pump when it’s over. The Bruins damn well better play “Cochise” by Audioslave, their unofficial playoff theme song of the last few years, on a loop until that puck drops at 7 p.m. ET Wednesday.

It’s going to take a lot to overcome what is now obvious: The Canadiens are the better team than the Bruins. Claude Julien can talk about puck management and net presence and physical battles all he wants, but it’s not going to matter.

Montreal wants this more than his team does, and he knows it. Most Bruins players have a shiny Stanley Cup ring from 2011, and a Finals appearance from last year to feel good about. No Canadian (or Canadiens) team has won a Cup since 1993.

Price is now the hotter goalie, one game after Tuukka Rask officially was the hotter goalie. But Price seems like he’s in the heads of his opponents more than his counterpart. That’s not a quantifiable stat, either. But I only needed to watch the replays of a couple missed opportunities tonight, like Lucic’s rushed attempt at the equalizer in the second, to form this opinion.

It won’t be easy. It might go to overtime. Habs fans might need to double up on the Pepcid all day. But they will be resting well at the end of Wednesday night.

Julien doesn't think so:

He won't be resting as well.


Adrian Dater has covered the NHL since 1995 for The Denver Post. Follow him on Twitter @Adater