May 3, 2011

Habs – Bruins Post Mortem Thoughts

Habs – Bruins Post Mortem Thoughts

Yes, I know, I need to get over the disappointing outcome of the Canadiens - Bruins series, but the Boston sports media isn't letting it go so I'm not either. Here are a few post-mortem thoughts:
ñ It's very difficult to win a playoff series when you can't score 5 on 5. The Canadiens last scored an even strength goal in Game 5, and credit the Bruins and Tim Thomas with shutting them down in the final 2 games of the series. On the flip side, it seemed like the Habs scored on every one of their power play chances. Their execution on the man advantage was superb, and with all the personnel turnover on the point over the last few years, the power play remains a strength of this team.
ñ With PK Subban, you have to take some bad with all of the good. I'm not a fan of falling/diving to try and get calls, and for whatever reason, this seems to be part of PK's game. Regardless, the kid is electric and I look forward to him antagonizing the Bruins for years to come. His goal late in Game 7 punctuated an excellent series for him.
ñ On the topic of diving, let's not get carried away by saying this is a team strategy or characteristic. That's projecting the actions of a few onto the entire team and that's not fair. Go through the roster and I think you'll see that there are about four players who use this tactic: Roman Hamrlik, Andrei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, and PK Subban. Of these four, I'd like to see the first three gone from this team next season. Kostitsyn and Pouliot are particularly useless and beyond frustrating to watch as a fan.
ñ And sticking with the diving topic, is there a writer who has exploited this topic any more than Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald? He's certainly guilty of projecting (as stated above) and he does nothing but get Bruins fans needlessly riled up by serving them emotional red meat that. I find his columns to be willfully ignorant and undignified. A great rivalry like Boston - Montreal doesn't need his classless contribution, and I suspect even Jack Edwards would take umbrage with the outrageous and baseless nature of Harris' conclusions.
ñ At the outset of the Habs - Bruins series, I was skeptical of Tim Thomas' ability to be counted on in the playoffs. After the first 2 games, that skepticism appeared warranted as the Bruins netminder was simply average and his playoff record was an unimpressive 10-10. However, the fact is that he got better as the series moved along. The nervous starts that characterized the first few games were gone by the end of the series, and now the Flyers are getting Thomas' best. That's bad news for Philly. Thomas looks supremely confident and the Flyers aren't seeing much of the net.
ñ One difference between this Bruins team and the one that relinquished a three games to none lead versus the Flyers last year is the quality of goaltending. While Tuukka Rask had a very nice season in 2009-2010, he didn't play well in the Philly series. In contrast, Thomas has looked dominant in the first two games. For Philadelphia, their goaltenders played better in last season's playoffs than they have thus far in this campaign. It seems like they use two goalies in almost every game and that isn't a recipe for success.
ñ The Canadiens surpassed pre-season expectations with their finish in sixth place in the conference, and for that, they should be proud. Many experts had them pegged at 10th. Considering their struggle to score goals and the decimation of their defense through injuries, a 6th place finish was remarkable. To improve next season, GM Pierre Gauthier will have to spend his summer addressing the lack of offense. With limited cap room, it will be interesting to see what moves he can actually make.

OK, I feel better now that I get that off my chest. On to the second round (finally), but I'm not sure these matchups can produce the same kind of drama that we witnessed in the first. We can only hope.
- Bryan Lomax

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