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Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Bruins Better Hope That They Don't See the Canadiens In the Playoffs This Season

There will always be teams and players that you struggle against consistently but the way that the Canadiens have owned the Bruins this season is some next level stuff. Montreal (34-14-3) swept Boston (28-18-7) in the four-game season series capped off by an easy 3-1 win tonight at TD Garden vs. the Bruins. It seems like no matter what the B's throw at the Canadiens, they always have the answer. Conversely, no team shatters Boston's confidence faster than Montreal, it's like clockwork every time that they play.

It has gotten so one-sided that some Bruins fans actually wanted them to start rookie goaltender Malcolm Subban (in his NHL debut) vs. his brother P.K. Yeah, because that makes sense. As usual vs. Montreal, Tuukka Rask (31 saves) wasn't the main issue. Still, there is no hiding from the depressing reality that he fell to 3-13-3 against them all-time.

After a scoreless first period, where Boston killed two penalties, the Canadiens struck first 38 seconds into the second. Dale Weise was stationed on the right post for a laser pass by Max Pacioretty. All Milan Lucic's buddy had to do was stuff it in for his ninth goal of the season, David Desharnais had the second assist.

Carey Price (34 saves) is having a spectacular year, he has to be the front-runner for the Vezina trophy since Pekka Rinne has missed so much time. You can't say the Bruins really challenged him though despite the gaudy save total. Similar to their first goal, Montreal once again found Boston to be flat-footed to open a period and like only they can, made them pay for it immediately. Two Boston defensemen collided in the offensive zone leaving Pacioretty to leak out for a breakaway. He shot the puck by Rask 56 seconds in for his team-leading 24th goal of the season and wouldn't you know that Weise had the lone assist.

The only instance of the Bruins showing any pride at all is when rookie David Pastrnak got just enough of the puck for it to go in at 15:29 of the third. The mad scramble in front of Price was reviewed and correctly called Pastrnak's fifth goal of the season. Lucic and Dougie Hamilton had the assists on the rookie's first tally since January 13.

That brief excitement finally generated for the B's lasted exactly four minutes as that's how long it took Montreal to clinch the two points with an empty-netter by Andrei Markov. His seventh goal of the season was unassisted. It's bad enough that Boston has drawn the fewest penalties in the NHL (122) but the next closest team isn't in the same area code (New Jersey, 147). That inability to get the man advantage always hurts the most when they play the Canadiens who want nothing more than to make it a special teams game (where they excel vs. big, dumb, slow Boston).

Boston hosts Dallas on Tuesday (7, NESN), their final home game before a five-game road trip to the West Coast/Canada. The Stars are not particularly good and the Bruins already beat them in Dallas (24-21-8) so might as well do it again.

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