The Montreal Canadiens ousting the Boston Bruins in seven games was no fluke. Yes, the Bruins are the superior team but the NHL playoffs is all about matchups and getting hot at the right time.
Montreal was the better team in the series and deserved to advance to the Eastern Conference.
“We just beat the best team in the league,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said.
The Canadiens for now put a wrench into the theory that you need to be a big, strong, puck possession team to win in the playoffs. However, it doesn’t hurt to have one of the NHL’s best goaltenders in Carey Price and a phenom on the blueline in PK Subban. Those two make a world of difference on any given night.
The style of play upfront really stood out for the Habs. Montreal is a four line team with speed and skill that plays with structure and great passion under head coach Michel Therrien. Their speed gave Boston problems throughout the series but what you saw was a team that was relentless and didn’t back down to the big bad Bruins.
Montreal has developed a swagger about them and look like the favorites to get out of the East and reach the Cup Finals.
For the Bruins this post-season was a huge disappointment. This team was built to win the Stanley Cup this season. However, unlike in Pittsburgh, there’s no need for a big shakeup, and Boston’s management team isn’t like Pittsburgh’s management team who try to build a team like the NHL is still playing the type of game teams were right out of the lockout in 2006-2007.
Boston has the ingredients in place to remain a power house with Tuukka Rask, great forward depth, coach, management team, but are in need of a few tweaks. The foundation will be there for the next several seasons even with Zdeno Chara nearing the end of his career.
You could argue that a game breaker upfront is a need but don’t be surprised if the Bruins go hard this summer for an impact top-4 defenseman via trade. Dennis Seidenberg will be back and the youngsters on the blueline are only going to get better but with the likelihood that Chara could hit a wall at anypoint and he sure looked like it in the Montreal series, the need to lessen the workload on Chara figures to be a priority for the Bruins brass.
Boston went hard after Alex Edler at the trade deadline and nearly had a deal in place for Edler. I believe they’ll be looking in that direction again this summer and they should be even with their tough cap situation.
Boston also has a decision to make on Jarome Iginla. He was a great fit with 30 goals in the regular season and led the Bruins with 5 goals in the post-season. The difficult decision is putting a price tag on him. Iginla signed an easily attainable bonus contract last season that paid him around $6 million. Don’t be surprised if Boston does the same thing this season deferring the bulk of the cap hit to the following season when the cap should be near $75 million in 2015-2016.