After the 7-0 shellacking the Boston Bruins delivered the Montreal Canadiens under a month ago, Boston went into the opening round of the playoffs with the confidence they had gained still fresh in their minds.
That confidence has certainly been shaken after the opening game of the series at T.D. Banknorth Garden on Thursday evening. Montreal took it to Boston from the opening faceoff resulting in a 2-0 victory for the Canadiens.
Of course, it is not time for any knee-jerk reactions, but Boston's performance last night did not exactly satisfy the Beantown faithful.
The Bruins still have a very real shot of winning this series, but they have to make some adjustments.
David Krejci needs to find a way to get free of the Montreal defense, Patrice Bergeron needs more ice time, and the entire team needs a gut check.
It's now or never for the Boston Bruins.
Let's get one thing straight. The Bruins are not nearly skilled enough to win the Stanley Cup. Period.
So how is a team like the Bruins supposed to make a postseason run? For starters, they have to get outstanding goaltending. Thursday night, Tim Thomas was far from outstanding.
The loss was not Tim Thomas' fault, but he did not rise to the occasion. With Carey Price dominating at the other end of the ice, Tim Thomas was average at best for the Bruins. The second goal put the nail in the coffin for the Bruins.
TIm Thomas needs to stand on his head and carry this team to have any shot at beating some of the more talented teams in the Eastern Conference. He is not inspiring much faith at this point.
Zdeno Chara has consistently disappointed with his lack of production in the postseason throughout his career. Game 1 against the Canadiens was no different.
If Zdeno Chara is going to wear the "C" on his jersey, his play ought to inspire a better effort from his teammates. There is no reason a 6'9'' monster like Chara should not be able to take over a playoff game ala Chris Pronger.
The problem is Chara doesn't have the heart or the balls that Chris Pronger has, and until he finds it, the Bruins are going to struggle.
The Montreal Canadiens suffocated David Krejci all night long. P.K. Subban and Hal Gill did not allow the European youngster to generate any offense for the Bruins.
Krejci is clearly the most talented goal scorer on the Boston Bruins. He has skills that no other player on the Bruins possesses.
Krejci is not an elite talent, but he is the best shot the Bruins have at putting the puck in the net consistently. The offensive output will improve significantly if Krejci can get some open space to work with.
But how will the Bruins get him open?
For some reason, Claude Julien does not have much faith in his best all around forward, Patrice Bergeron, opting instead to give Chris Kelly's line more ice time in crucial situations. This is not the only flaw in Julien's coaching, but that's a discussion for another slide.
Patrice Bergeron is the leader of this hockey team, regardless of the fact that Chara has the "C." Get Bergeron more ice time against Subban and Gill, and it takes some of the heat off of David Krejci.
Krejci is not the type of talent that can carry the offense. The Bruins need to divy up the workload, and not to Chris Kelly and the checking line.
Looking passed the lack of talent, subpar play from Chara, and the weak goal Tim Thomas let in, the Boston Bruins desperately need to change their mental approach to the hockey game.
From the owner, Henry Jacobs, all the way down to captain Zdeno Chara, and everyone in between, Boston needs to aspire for greatness and not settle for anything less.
There is something inherently wrong with an organization that has as little accountability as the Boston Bruins organization does. A playoff series against the rival Montreal Canadiens in front of a rowdy home crowd should be enough to ignite a team, but apparently not.
Until a leader emerges on this team and within this organization, the Bruins will continue to play without balls, continue to coast through the regular season beating up on weaker teams, but always fall flat in the playoffs. They don't have that extra gear. It's time to find it.