In defeat, Bruins, Julien define themselves

As far as losses are concerned, Sunday’s 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.

Advertisement

Let’s leave Zdeno Chara’s 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:

“Tonight, as everybody saw, there was a lot of embellishment,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the game. “This is embarrassing for our game, the embellishing. Right now, they’ve got over 100 power plays so far. It’s pretty obvious why. We’re trying to clean that out of our game. It’s got to be done soon. Because it’s not about tonight. It’s about the game. The embellishment embarrasses our game. We’ve got to be better about that. It’s 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, it’s going to be an issue.”

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.

Advertisement

In sacrificing Sunday’s game, the Bruins delivered a statement, a message, what have you. Chara’s 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 didn’t his reaction speak to the fabric of what this team has become?

United.

The Bruins lost the game, only their third of the season, but you could argue they gained much more. Chara’s defense for Tyler Seguin was a defining moment that speaks volumes about what this team runs on. Didn’t 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, didn’t you have the sweltering feeling that the Stanley Cup Finals were over? OK, maybe you didn’t know it, but the team had such a swagger about it from that point on that you knew the possibility was in tantalizing reach. Didn’t you get that sort of sense Sunday night?

It was if they flipped a switch, as if something clicked that hadn’t been in possession before. Sure, the ”W” was an afterthought, but this squad proved they are not a unit to be messed with. On March 3, I’ll 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.

Advertisement

Montreal has had 100 power play opportunities this season, leading the NHL. Boston has had 61, dead last. Clearly, we can’t 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 – and their head coach – are made of. We also saw the foundation of the Montreal Canadiens too, as spineless and cowardly as ever.

March 27. Can’t wait.

Close
Ski season updates, free from the Boston Globe.
Get the Globe's free newsletter, It's All Downhill, for the latest from the slopes.
Thanks for signing up!