Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Bruins bid adieu to Canadiens in four game sweep

While the fans were busy booing the home side (and maybe the guys in the white jerseys as well) they perhaps didn't find time to reflect back on the last few months of the season, for if they had they surely would not have been surprised at the outcome of this series.

Montreal never seemed to factor into the four games of Boston's sweep, they did have the odd moment where they controlled the play or took charge, but they were few and far between. This was a solid four game set from the Bruins, a powerful display of their physical ability to control the flow of the game and score the big goals when required.

Combine that with the stellar goal tending of Tim Thomas and it's hard to find a reason as to why the Habs fans ever thought their favourites (well perhaps not favourites anymore) ever stood a chance.

The seeds of this defeat were set much earlier this year, the first rumblings of the discontent between Alex Kovalev and then coach Guy Carbonneau, the unnecessary distractions of the criminal elements hovering around some of the players and the fickle nature of affection of the fans for their goaltender Carey Price.

For Price games three and four had to be the most painful of experiences, once hailed as the next legend between the pipes, his slide through the final months of the season morphed into a terrible playoff round, not entirely of his own making, but as countless goaltenders in Montreal have learned before, when things go bad, it's the goaltender who bears the brunt of the crowds anxieties.

GM (and losing coach) Bob Gainey, took time from his post game commentary to criticize those fans who booed their own goaltender in this series, replaying for them the many times that Price was left on his own to face the Bruin onslaught. And while the goal tending certainly wasn't of playoff calibre in the Montreal end, neither was the defensive play and the missing offense through the four games was just as responsible for the Habs exit from the playoffs as were the Bruin goals.

Gainey provided a warning to the faithful about driving away the young goaltender, suggesting that the fans wouldn't want to see him coming into the Bell Centre in another jersey. A rather astute observation considering it was a former Hab, Michael Ryder who did the most damage on the Canadiens in game four, with two goals and some spirited play through the sixty minutes.

Boston was full value for their dominating win and their first playoff success in a decade. The Bruins in this series, continued to showcase the skill and power that has made this past season a remarkable turnaround year for the B's. All the pieces have fit together down the stretch and into the playoffs. The team concept has been accepted as scripture, each player responsible to the other on the ice and the team as a whole.

There are no overwhelming stars on the roster, though the names that stand out are the ones you would expect, Thomas, Chara, Savard and Lucic, all the key ingredients in the four game series with the Habs and all four will have larger roles to play in the series to come.

Yet it was the remainder of the roster that kept the Bruins on a roll, unafraid to take to the corners to fish out the puck, regularly beating the Canadiens to the puck wherever it went. The Bruins controlled all three zones of the surface, finding the most success in the Montreal end where they seemed to be allowed to set up at will and fire enough pucks unit they gained the desired result.

This Bruins team seems like the strongest contender that Boston has put together in a very long time, they're playing smart and are being coached in a smart fashion as well.

It takes sixteen wins to take home Lord Stanley's mug, the Bruins are but twelve more away from rewarding their fans for their many years of support and enthusiasm.

They were booing in Montreal on Wednesday night, but we suspect that the cheers in Boston could be heard as far away as New York City.

Montreal was home to much second guessing and frustration on Wednesday, a feeling that will eventually go away, but the reminders will be there for a while yet we suspect.

Boston with the four game sweep solidifies the impression that they are the team to beat in the east this year, the four game series with the Habs only adds to the evidence that the road to Stanley, will be keeping on a straight line to Boston.

Montreal Gazette-- Superior Bruins sweep Habs
Montreal Gazette-- Disappointment muffles city streets
Montreal Gazette-- Scalpers bemoan Habs' fate
Globe and Mail-- Canadiens swept out of playoffs
Globe and Mail-- Montreal crowd quiet for U.S. anthem
National Post-- Bruising Bruins sweep Price, Canadiens aside
National Post-- Canadiens' anniversary season a long funeral
Boston Globe-- Ryder leads Bruins to sweep over Habs
Boston Herald-- Bruins make clean getaway
Boston Herald-- Michael Ryder happy to be on series’ winning side
Boston Herald-- David Krejci is delivering like a pro
CBC-- Bruins sweep Canadiens out of playoffs
CBC-- Gainey takes aim at Montreal boobirds
CBC-- Koivu uncertain of future with Habs

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