In some respect, it’s not really all that hard to swallow.
The Montreal Canadiens were indeed the better team and deserved to win a curious, seven-game series over the Boston Bruins. P.K. Subban, Carey Price, and Max Pacioretty were the best three players on the ice for various parts of the last two weeks, the Habs took advantage of the Bruins’ mistakes, gaffes, and gags, and as lucky as Price was in net (14, 15 posts? We eventually lost count), the kid is still on a path that could land him an Olympic gold medal, the Stanley Cup, and Conne Smythe trifecta.
In another specific (lack of) respect, their obsession with the Bruins “disrespect” sounds like something right out of Bill Belichick’s motivational notebook. Seeing the likes of Dale Freaking Weise celebrate moving onto the Eastern Conference finals on Garden ice can be a bitter pill to chug down with your black and gold crow.
As if that’s not hard enough to digest, there’s this: Dennis Seidenberg, sidelined with knee surgery since early January, likely would have shown up to play Saturday against the New York Rangers.
There’s no guarantee that David Krejci would have as well.
If Krejci is hurt, as many had questioned the further he plunged into a frustrating obscurity, it’s one thing. Otherwise, what a pathetic postseason it was for the once-dangerous offensive player who twice helped lead the Bruins on runs to the Stanley Cup final. Krejci ended the 2014 playoff jog 0-4-4, the first time he’s ever gone without a goal in the postseason.
All in all, he took 25 shots over 12 games, six or seven of which might have actually been considered quality scoring chances. Krejci was cute with the puck, an epidemic that inflicted the Bruins’ top line for the bulk of the minutes on ice against the Canadiens. He dabbled. He waited. He desperately looked for someone to dish it to, even with a decent shot at hand. And when he didn’t do all that, linemate Milan Lucic was right there to contribute to the underperforming slack.
“I didn’t do my job in the playoffs,” Krejci said.
Well, there’s a revelation.
Krejci looked lost, much more like the “minor league player” that NBC’s Mike Milbury likened him to in between periods Wednesday night than the playoff monster Boston was used to. In fact, Krejci seemed to be heating up at just the right time, with a pair of goals in the regular season finale against Buffalo, which gave him three in three games to close out the year. In reality, that stretch was a mirage, making us forget the fact that Krejci hadn’t scored a goal since his hat trick on March 4, two games into the 12-game win streak (Peaked too soon, right?).
This, of course, is a guy who led the Bruins with 26 points last postseason, 23 during the 2011 championship season. It was his injury in 2010 that many blame for the total collapse at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers. It was his absence in 2014 that is at the top of the list of blame when it comes to why the Bruins are not playing in the Eastern Conference final for a third time in the last four seasons.
The Bruins’ big man in this series against the Canadiens? Two assists, one of them on an empty-net goal. Yuck.
Krejci’s a magician with the puck all right. He done made himself completely disappear.
“As a top centerman if you don’t put the puck in the net in two rounds, you don’t give the chance to the team to win the game or the series,” Krejci said. “I felt like I could have put the puck in the net a couple times, but I didn’t, so I didn’t do my job in the playoffs.”
After watching defenseman Kevan Miller bungle possession of the puck Monday night, then Matt Bartkowski look like he was more concerned with the hottie seated in Row 3 than he was realizing Dale Freaking Weise was about to school him for the game’s first goal on Wednesday night, the news that Seidenberg probably would have been ready to play this weekend, particularly alongside a beaten and battered Zdeno Chara, would have come as extra cheese for free. Instead, the Bruins head into the offseason with plenty of changes afoot.
Maybe Brad Marchand will join his bro, Tyler Seguin, on the way out. It’s probably time to say goodbye to Shawn Thornton, maybe Jarome Iginla also, after one season. Subban is a restricted free agent this summer.
Just throwing it out there, Jeremy.
But Krejci is entering he final season of the three-year deal he signed with the club back in 2011, and one has to wonder what sort of return general manager Peter Chiarelli could find for the 28-year-old center. Krejci’s 69 point-regular season was his most productive campaign since 2008-09, yet his postseason left everything to be desired. With the emergence of Carl Soderberg and the club’s insistence to keep Providence’s Ryan Spooner as a center instead of utilizing him as a forward at the NHL level, does that make one of the franchise’s most important players expendable?
It might seem a leap, but so did the Bruins giving up on former No. 2 pick Tyler Seguin after only three seasons.
That might even be harder to swallow than losing to the Canadiens, a team that deserved to win, but not one that can consider itself better than the Bruins, who need to come up with a different plan to beat their rivals on a consistent basis. Because whatever it is now, clearly needs re-tooling.
“There’s a rivalry here,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said, “and what I said in French was we don’t like each other because it’s a rivalry. And at the same time, the pounding of the chest — the people who have been here, have seen us do that all year, because it’s related to Boston Strong.”
It was a fun year for the President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins. The way it ended, however, wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Instead, Seidenberg will have to wait until the fall for his much-anticipated return.
If he’s still in Boston, Krejci is more than welcome to join him.