As far as losses are concerned, Sundayís 4-3 dismissal at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens was about as good as you could hope for as a Boston Bruins fan.
Yes, it was an uneven effort for certain. Tuukka Rask was off his game and the Bruins made enough turnovers to supply Pillsbury for a year. But as so often is the case between these two teams, we were left thirsting for more. The best rivalry in hockey got even more heated Sunday night, leaving us with anticipation for the next time, hoping and needing another extended April or May showdown to matriculate.
Letís leave Zdeno Charaís takedown of Alexei Emelin aside, as gritty and defining as the moment may have been for the Bruins captain and his team. This is my favorite takeaway from the game:
ďTonight, as everybody saw, there was a lot of embellishment,Ē Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the game. ďThis is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing. Right now, theyíve got over 100 power plays so far. Itís pretty obvious why. Weíre trying to clean that out of our game. Itís got to be done soon. Because itís not about tonight. Itís about the game. The embellishment embarrasses our game. Weíve got to be better about that. Itís pretty obvious when P.K. [Subban] gets hit, he throws himself into the glass and holds his head. You know what? We start calling those things for embellishment, maybe teams stop doing it. Until we take charge that, itís going to be an issue.Ē
Claude, I could kiss you.
Like everyone else, I wonder what kind of player Subban might be outside of the gutless culture of Montreal hockey. His talent is undeniable, one Bruins fans can equate to the likes of Peyton Manning of sorts. You love to hate him, but at some level you would salivate to have him on your squad.
In sacrificing Sundayís game, the Bruins delivered a statement, a message, what have you. Charaís penalty was the highlight, or lowlight, of the game, but how much can we really argue about it, considering we criticize the man for not dropping the gloves in the first place. And didnít his reaction speak to the fabric of what this team has become?
The Bruins lost the game, only their third of the season, but you could argue they gained much more. Charaís defense for Tyler Seguin was a defining moment that speaks volumes about what this team runs on. Didnít we learn two years ago that this is not a group you get angry? Right, Luongo?
The moment the Vancouver Canucks goalie called out Tim Thomas for departing the crease, didnít you have the sweltering feeling that the Stanley Cup Finals were over? OK, maybe you didnít know it, but the team had such a swagger about it from that point on that you knew the possibility was in tantalizing reach. Didnít you get that sort of sense Sunday night?
It was if they flipped a switch, as if something clicked that hadnít been in possession before. Sure, the ĒWĒ was an afterthought, but this squad proved they are not a unit to be messed with. On March 3, Iíll take a character display over a number in the left column any day.
And the fact that Julien blew his top after the whole affair makes it all the more delicious.
Montreal has had 100 power play opportunities this season, leading the NHL. Boston has had 61, dead last. Clearly, we canít equate that statistic alone to demonstrate style of play, but it is one fascinating dynamic after witnessing what unraveled Sunday night at the Garden.
It was great theater, and in the end, it was as good of a loss as you could imagine. We saw what the Bruins Ė and their head coach Ė are made of. We also saw the foundation of the Montreal Canadiens too, as spineless and cowardly as ever.
March 27. Canít wait.