Before I allow my rage to overcome me, let's remember that it's been less than 7 months since the last Boston sports team won a championship. And in 2011 the Bruins gave the fans here a title for the first time in 39 years. Let's be very thankful we can enjoy this time and place of sports greatness.
And now, it's time to get angry.
Who on the Bruins had a good series? Carl Soderberg. Patrice Bergeron. Ummm... Matt Fraser?
Did Milan Lucic, David Krejci, or Brad Marchand have a good series? Dale Weise, a 4th liner with 10 career NHL goals, scored twice in this series. Krejci and Marchand didn't score at all. Lucic scored once. Dale Weise was paid $750,000 this season, by two different teams. Krejci, Marchand, and Lucic combined for $15.75 million against the cap this season. That's exactly 21 times the cost of Weise. For half the goals in this series.
Brad Marchand has failed to score in 20 consecutive playoff games, dating back to early June last year against Pittsburgh. He also failed to take care of the puck, took stupid penalties, and he didn't really get under anyone's skin. I don't think he belongs on this team. No playoff production, doesn't play "Bruins hockey," he sounds more and more like his ex-BFF Tyler Seguin. Except he's also a penalty magnet.
The Bruins put themselves in this position when they didn't make any significant moves at the trade deadline. With Dennis Seidenberg out and Adam McQuaid's recovery a massive McQuestion mark, the B's needed a true defenseman. He didn't need to score, or be a "puck mover," just somebody who would follow the principles of Claude Julien's defensive systems.
Instead, the Bruins got Andrej Meszaros, who didn't even dress for this Game 7.
I still remember the days after the deadline, when the Bruins front office and some pundits and fans didn't seem to mind that the Habs had acquired Thomas Vanek (4 goals in the series), and the Bruins didn't do much of anything. Don't worry. Be happy.
How many Montreal goals started with glaring defensive mistakes by Bruins blue-liners?
And how often did the Habs outmuscle the B's for position down low, on both ends of the ice? The Canadiens scored some key goals because they had inside position in the crease. The Bruins whiffed on major opportunities because they DIDN'T have inside position (or anyone at all) in the crease. This isn't an area you typically expect the Canadiens to be better at than the Bruins. And yet they were.
Carey Price was able to clearly see almost every puck the Bruins shot at him. When he couldn't see it, a Canadien blocked it. The Bruins rarely obstructed his view. They were too busy attempting fancy passes.
Speaking of goalies, Tuukka Rask deserves his small share of criticism. He was very good in the last three games of the series, stealing Game 5, keeping the Bruins close in Games 6 and 7. However, he was not good in Games 1 or 3. He was below his average at key moments in those games. Rask wasn't the only disappointing Bruin in this series. He was similar to Krug in Hamilton in that he had bad moments, but also good ones.
Ultimately, however, Rask had it within himself to steal this series for the Bruins. Just one big save and this series might have a different result. He didn't do that. He's won 5 playoff series, lost 3. He's 1-2 in Game 7s. He's 1-3 in games when his team faces elimination. He's a very talented goalie. He just isn't much of a thief.
I'm not asking Rask to carry the team while so many highly paid, highly touted players in front of him are failing to produce. I'm just pointing out that Tuukka Rask has yet to prove that he's a great playoff goalie.
Tell me that Tuukka Rask is clutch. Go ahead, try it.
What do the Bruins do now?
Get healthy. Dennis Seidenberg's absence was quite apparent in this series. Chara + Seidenberg are greater than the sum of their parts. Chara without Seidenberg is old and overworked.
The Bruins need real defensemen on their depth chart. Matt Bartkowski is wound too tight to play postseason hockey. I would like to see the Bruins acquire the most boring, dullest d-man available this off-season. Someone with no flair, no personality, just follows the system.
If Brad Marchand weren't already on the team, would you want the Bruins to go after him? I wouldn't. Does he belong on this team?
You don't need to blow it all up. But the B's are more than just a few slight tweaks away from being as good as they can be, and from reaching the peaks that are within their grasp.