In response to stevegm's comment:
In response to SoxFanInIL's comment:
In response to socca10's comment:
I whole-heartedly agree with Stevegm on this topic. B's are not slow, and the 4 remaining teams don't skate circles around them. The B's were 1-1 on the season against both LA and the 'Hawks, 1-3 vs. the Habs (two 1-goal losses, one in a SO, and traded a pair of 4-1 games) and 5-0 vs the Rangers. None of those guys blew the doors off the Bruins.
I liken the loss to the Habs to a plane crash (bear with me here): a commercial airliner is really, really, really safe and rarely goes down for a single "reason." You typically need an extremely unlikely string of cascading bad events to happen for the plane to go down, and that's what happened to the Bruins. Any one of the following would have changed that series significantly:
1. Burying 1 or 2 missed opportunities (posts, missed open nets, etc)
2. Better PK (stop one Subban blast in game 1, series is over in 5)
3. Smarter defending by the B's (aka fewer brain farts by Bart, Miller, Chara, etc)
4. DK, BM, and several others NOT having their worst playoff performances ever at the same time
5. Rask making one or two big saves (read: 5-hole) at a key moment
6. Better officiating, specifically in game 7
7. Fewer or no key injuries (Seids, Kelly, Chara to a lesser degree)
ALL of that had to happen for the B's to lose this series, and that's just a heapload of unlikely all at the same time.
Its a good list, and absulutely true. However, just for argument, I wonder if there's something tying a lot of these factors together? I like to talk about matchups, and the Bruins this year consistently played poorly against certain teams... teams that looked an awful lot like Montreal.
I think items 1-5 are related. The Bruins looked positively out of synch the entire series, almost spooked. They hit posts and missed opportunities because they were panicking, not just "dumb luck." The PK looked absolutely overwhelmed... and it spilled over into Bs sometimes not playing aggressively in their own end fearing penalties. The defense made terrible gaffe after terrible gaffe. Certain stars completely disappeared.
My point is, these are not unrelated "aligning of the stars" events. It was a team malaise that was painfully obvious for anyone who watched it. Without a miracle finish one game or a lucky swipe by a rookie in OT, the Bs could have lost in 5 or 6... we only talk about the luck that didnt go Boston's way. The fact is the B's were thoroughly outplayed in basically every facet of the game in nearly every game. The last 2 games were simply dreadful.
Im just not sure what the answer is vs a team like Montreal. Is it more speed? Less emotional engagement? I disagree the teams were close in the regular season... the Bruins looked poor vs Montreal in all but one game and frankly, they looked a lot like they looked in that playoff series.
I'd like to figure out what about this matchup causes the Bs to choke on offense, get flustered on defense, have ordinary goaltending (nice game last night Henrik) and get lit up like a Christmas tree on the power play.
All of this in not unrelated.
It's all related, but there really is no "secret" that needs to be figured out. No one knows what to do to build a champion. You can only build a good team and hope for the best. The Cap guarantees some semblance of parity.
How often does the best team over the regular season win the Cup? We know they regularly get beat. Does that mean it's better to have a crappy team in the regular season? Only a fool would see it that way.
Chicago, and Los Angeles have had a pretty good run the last few years. Both of them have gone down much like the B's just did too though. Happens all the time. Bruins 71 is the best example ever.
There are really only 2 questions to ask. Did they get beat because "they're not good enough"...or did they get beat because they didn't "play as well as they could".
I don't know how any reasonable hockey analyst could say the B's played as well as they possibly could. As well as they usually do. Everything was screwed up. A child should be able to get that. The underachieved in virtually every measurable personal, and team category. That's the stuff that we should be basing our opinion on.
In the event someone disagrees with all this.....Yes, the Bruins should be blown up, and a rebuild started.
If one believes success is a matter of placing greater emphasis on building a different team so as to be able to beat Montreal....then yes...blow er up.
There's only 4 teams left. No one has a clue who will win. We know that a month ago, the smartest guys in the business figured maybe Boston or Chicago. Nobody had New York or Montreal in the finals. Same with LA.
There is absolutely no trend, data, evidence or otherwise, that would logically suggest this team is no longer one of the absolute best in the NHL.
One of the main reasons they've been the absolute best is the shutdown ability of Chara. Although maybe injured he also appeared exhausted at the end of the Habs series. If they're going to continue with using him every shift in the playoffs against the other teams top line I'd be surprised if they made the finals again. And couldn't a little juggling of the top lines once in a while help out. Their top line was totally shut down the whole series and yet never a change...