The current market leaders could run into some challengers.
May 18--The Bruins did not play poorly against the Montreal Canadiens. It's obvious that any team that launches some 472 shots in seven games -- an average of about 67.4 shots per game either on net, blocked or wide -- is spending a great deal of time with the puck in the offensive zone.
The Bruins weren't bad in their second-round upset loss to the Canadiens. They just weren't great. They didn't play as well as they proved all season they were capable of playing.
-- Check out: Bruins salaries/contract breakdown
Give credit to the Habs, whose quickness and tenacity interrupted a lot of what the B's wanted to do on breakouts, on the forecheck, through neutral ice and on special teams.
Montreal just seems to be the one opponent that makes it difficult for the Bruins to assert themselves and set the tone of play -- which they were able to do with regularity to 28 other foes en route to a 117-point regular season. The Habs seem to have the Bruins' number, and it showed as players sometimes looked nervous and tight.
In getting a series win very few observers, even in Montreal, believed possible, the Habs maximized their potential. As for the Bruins, they fell far short of their maximum level, as a team or -- in most cases -- as individuals.
The individual grades for this team, so good after the regular season, dipped dramatically in the playoffs.
Tuukka Rask B-
Rask was fine, if not quite 2011-Tim Thomas-like. He recorded a 1.99 GAA and .928 save percentage while facing 29 shots per game. Rask stopped 33 shots for a Game 4 shutout in the conference semifianl series, and his Game 6 diving paddle save on Montreal'sBrendan Gallagher was the best save of that series. He hesitated coming out against Max Pacioretty's Game 4 breakaway and yielded an off-balance 5-hole score.
Torey Krug A
The diminutive Michigan native was maybe the most consistent and mistake-free of the corps, moving the puck well in the B's zone and creating lots of chances in the offensive end. Krug posted a goal and four assists vs. Detroit and 10 points overall with a shot total (28) topped only by Patrice Bergeron. The RFA isn't going anywhere.
Zdeno Chara B
The captain did a solid job containing Montreal'sMax Pacioretty-David Desharnais-Brendan Gallagher line, though Pacioretty did get behind him to give the Habs a 2-0 lead in Game 6. Chara scored two goals in Round 1 but had just two assists and 11 shots against the Canadiens -- perhaps effected by a finger injury. He had 45 hits and 24 blocked shots.
Johnny Boychuk B-
He scored the game-tying goal with 1:58 left in Game 1 and assisted on Matt Fraser's OT GWG in Game 4 against Montreal. He was a plus-3 in 12 games. Boychuk took an interference penalty with 4:31 left in Game 7 against the Canadiens with the B's trailing 2-1 but pressing for the equalizer. He finished the playoffs with 33 hits and 40 blocked shots.
Dougie Hamilton B-
He had seven points and a plus-1 rating in the postseason, averaging 19:06 of ice time. Hamilton scored the critical Game 2 goal to cut the B's deficit to 3-2. He failed to cover P.K. Subban coming out of the penalty box for a Game 3 breakaway goal.
Kevan Miller B-
Miller did his stay-at-home job fairly well, with a plus-2 rating in 11 games. He had the worst turnover in the Montreal series when a Torey Krug pass bounced off him and handed Lars Eller an easy goal to open Game 6. Miller had 24 blocks and 45 hits. He made minimal offensive contributions, with just two assists and six shots on goal.
Matt Bartkowski C-
Bartkowski took two Game 1 penalties that led to P.K. Subban PPGs, including the OT winner and another in Game 5 the resulted in another Subban goal. He failed to see and react to Montreal'sDale Weise sneaking in the back door for the first goal in Game 7. An RFA, Bartkowski is likely to be re-signed by the team.
Andrej Meszaros C-
He set up a late Game 3 Jarome Iginla tip-in that got the B's within a goal against Montreal with 2:16 left, but he was one of the guys beaten on Weise's Game 3 breakaway. Meszaros played two games in each series and finished with two assists and a plus-1 rating. The rental won't be back.
Incomplete -- Corey Potter (one game; no points, even)
Patrice Bergeron A
One of the NHL's finest all-round players merely burnished his reputation this postseason, nine points (three goals) in 12 games, a plus-1 rating, a 57.4 faceoff win rate and a team-leading 40 shots. He scored a key game-tying goal late in the B's Game 2 win.
Carl Soderberg A-
He enjoyed a strong postseason, with a goal, five assists and a plus-4 rating in 12 games. His first career playoff goal gave the B's a key 1-0 lead 13:20 into the Game 5 win.
Reilly Smith A-
He recovered from a February-to-April swoon (30 games, two goals) to put up four goals, an assist and a team-best plus-5 rating in 12 playoff games. In his first NHL playoff action, Smith scored winning goals in both Game 2s vs. Detroit and Montreal. He also hit at least two posts. A restricted free agent, he is a certain re-sign.
Matt Fraser A-
Called up before Game 4 in Montreal for his playoff debut, Fraser scored the overtime game-winner. He then added an assist in Game 5. Another RFA, Fraser could be re-signed and compete for a job next season.
Jarome Iginla B-
The winger led the B's with five postseason goals (with two assists) and had three goals against Montreal. Iginla had 17 shots vs. the Habs, hit some posts, and failed to convert several excellent chances, with 12 missed shots. Iginla had 36 hits. The UFA seems to be a very likely re-sign for the Bruins.
Loui Eriksson C+
Eriksson scored a key, late, insurance goal in Game 5 vs. Montreal and posted five points (two goals) with a plus-1 rating in 12 games, with a goal and two assists in Round 2.
Milan Lucic C
His overall numbers look decent: four goals and three assists in 12 games, a plus-3 rating and a team-high 56 hits. But Lucic had just one goal, an empty-netter at that, and 12 shots on goal vs. Montreal, with none in Game 7.
Brad Marchand C-
Excellent in the team's 2011 and 2013 playoff runs (32 points in 47 games), the pesky winger had limited impact this time around with no points vs. Detroit and five assists against the Habs. He had 28 shots in 12 games, many of them good chances, and zero goals. Marchand was assessed two ridiculous, unfair "reputation" penalties in Game 7.
Daniel Paille C
A valuable playoff contributor in years past (six points in 2011; nine in '13) missed the first round this year (concussion). Paille scored the key first goal in the Bruins' Game 2 win vs. Montreal but had no other points, five shots and a minus-1 rating in 11:30 average ice time.
Justin Florek C
The surprise call-up played all five games of the first round and scored a goal that gave the B's a 1-0 lead in their Game 2 win vs. Detroit. He played one game vs. Montreal then returned to Providence. The 23-year-old RFA should have an NHL future.
Shawn Thornton C-
Thornton had limited impact playing just 7:21 per game, with one assist in 12 games. He had an impressive 40 hits in limited ice time. Could the UFA's strong, courageous seven-year run with the B's be done? If so, he'll be missed.
Gregory Campbell C-
The fourth line didn't have its usual impact, especially vs. Montreal. The center was scoreless in 12 playoff games and had an even rating, with a 49.1 faceoff win rate. Campbell also was part of the PK unit that gave up eight goals against Montreal.
Jordan Caron C-
Caron played seven games (7:54 ice time) and netted his first playoff goal vs. Detroit in Game 3. The former first-rounder, an RFA, could be moving on.
David Krejci D
Always counted on to be a playoff standout, Krejci fell far short, with no goals and just four assists and a minus-3 rating in 12 games. The center did create many quality chances on which his linemates did not finish. He came up empty on 25 shots on goal, many of them good opportunities. He did improve on faceoffs, at 53.6 percent.
The absence of the injured Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid meant Claude Julien and his staff had to go with a very young and inexperienced defense corps. At times, it showed, in some costly blue-line mistakes. The B's penalty kill was poor vs. Montreal. And not being emotionally ready for a big push at the start of Game 7 looked bad. But the team did generate more than enough scoring chances to win the series. The coaches can't shoot the pucks.
Entering the postseason, the Bruins were widely acclaimed as the best and deepest team in the NHL, so the front office did its job well. In hindsight, it's unfortunate GM Peter Chiarelli was unable to accomplish more at the trade deadline. Habs D Mike Weaver (acquired from Florida for a fifth-round pick) played well in the series, blocking 20 shots, and would have looked a lot better in a B's sweater than Andrej Meszaros, who cost a conditional third-round pick. And a veteran forward, tough to get, would have helped fill the void left by Chris Kelly's absence.
GOALTENDER PLAYOFF STATISTICS
# GOALIE GP GS MIN GAA W L OT SO SA GA SV% G A PIM
40Tuukka Rask12 12 753 1.99 7 5 1 2 348 25 .928 0 1 2
DEFENSEMEN PLAYOFF STATISTICS
# POS PLAYER GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
47 D Torey Krug12 2 8 10 -2 6 1 0 0 28 7.10
27 D Dougie Hamilton12 2 5 7 1 14 1 0 1 23 8.70
33 D Zdeno Chara12 2 2 4 4 14 2 0 0 22 9.10
55 D Johnny Boychuk12 1 1 2 3 2 0 0 0 25 4.00
41 D Andrej Meszaros4 0 2 2 1 2 0 0 0 5 0.00
86 D Kevan Miller11 0 2 2 2 8 0 0 0 6 0.00
43 D Matt Bartkowski8 0 1 1 2 10 0 0 0 12 0.00
6 D Corey Potter1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0.00
FORWARDS PLAYOFF STATISTICS
37 C Patrice Bergeron12 3 6 9 1 4 0 0 0 40 7.50
12 R Jarome Iginla12 5 2 7 0 12 2 0 2 26 19.20
17 L Milan Lucic12 4 3 7 3 4 0 0 1 26 15.40
34 C Carl Soderberg12 1 5 6 4 2 0 0 0 25 4.00
21 R Loui Eriksson12 2 3 5 1 4 1 0 0 24 8.30
63 L Brad Marchand12 0 5 5 4 18 0 0 0 28 0.00
18 R Reilly Smith12 4 1 5 5 0 2 0 2 26 15.40
46 C David Krejci12 0 4 4 -3 4 0 0 0 25 0.00
25 R Matt Fraser4 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 1 4 25.00
22 L Shawn Thornton12 0 1 1 -2 4 0 0 0 16 0.00
20 L Daniel Paille7 1 0 1 -1 2 0 0 0 5 20.00
38 R Jordan Caron7 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 9 11.10
57 L Justin Florek6 1 0 1 0 4 0 0 0 10 10.00
11 C Gregory Campbell12 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 0 10 0.00
(c)2014 the Boston Herald
Visit the Boston Herald at www.bostonherald.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services