Tuukka Rask has been average so far in a series where the Bruins need him to be phenomenal. Credit: Getty Images
With the way the first three games of Bruins-Canadiens have unfolded, it’s easy to forget that the Bruins earned the Presidents’ Trophy in the 2013-14 regular season. The B’s have led for a grand total of 11.5 minutes through three games while the Canadiens have been in front for 107 minutes. In many ways, Boston is lucky to only be down 2-1 in the series, heading into the all-important Game 4 on Thursday (7:30 p.m., NBCSN) at the Bell Centre.
“They played a better game (in Game 3) than they did in Boston,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien about the Canadiens following the 4-2 loss. “At the same time I have to talk about our team not being good enough at the start to give ourselves a chance. We need to rebound and make sure we’re ready at the start of the game.”
The mostly brutal opening two periods for the Bruins are the main reason they find themselves in this predicament: having to win three out of the next four games against a quality opponent. The team that has scored first has won each game of the series so far and a scary trend for the B’s is that they have fallen behind by at least two goals in every contest. No team is suited to play from behind that much, especially in the playoffs where the cupcakes of the league (Sabres, Panthers, Islanders - to name a few) are nowhere to be found.
Finally, Boston simply needs more from its top players. Tuukka Rask was the best goaltender in the NHL during the regular season but so far in this series, he has been outplayed by Carey Price. Game 3 was a prime example of what Rask has been lacking vs. Montreal: the game-changing save. It’s tough to blame him for giving up goals on a pair of breakaways, but one was against fringe NHL player Dale Weise (who had 14 career goals-regular season and postseason-coming into Tuesday), so you have to make that save to win on the road.
And has anyone seen David Krejci? The normally reliable postseason hero has been nowhere to be seen, with zero goals and three assists in eight playoff games. All he’s managed vs. Montreal is an assist on Milan Lucic’s empty-netter in Game 2.
“David has shown a little bit of frustration,” stated Julien. “He’s gotta battle through that. We have trust that he will and his line needs to be better for us to be successful.”
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter:@RichSlate