It was Don Cherry, so wrought up he was red in the face and spluttering into his tie, making an utter fool of himself as he blamed the refs for a game the Boston Bruins were clearly losing because they were being outskated and outplayed.
It was Claude Julien, falling for the same horse manure, failing to make the critical adjustments he needed to make as the Bruins turned a 3-2 lead over the Canadiens into a playoff disaster.
It was Brad Marchand, pulling one bone-headed move after another, culminating in a snow-job on Carey Price that was the absolute pinnacle of stupid.
It was Shawn Thornton spraying water from the bench onto the visor of P.K. Subban, as though it’s a good idea to get your most talented and dangerous opponent even more pumped than he already was.
But above all, it was Milan Lucic. Here’s a news flash: Thunderous looks and death threats don’t win hockey games, especially not in the playoffs.
Lucic can play. If he keeps his head focused where it ought to be, he’s a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Boston, he has a tendency to get caught up in extraneous revenge games that have nothing to do with winning hockey games.
Lucic’s antics were, in truth, an insult to the entire concept of “Boston Strong,” of a city pulling together in the wake of a tragedy. How? By threatening to kill two of your opponents after you lost a game and a series, fair and square? How does that reflect “Boston Strong”?
Someone in the Boston hierarchy needs to sit down with Lucic and tell him to stow the crap. Cam Neely, like Lucic himself a big, strong power forward in his day (albeit one with considerably more talent) should take on the job.
Lucic has to be told, in the most forceful way, that it has reached the point where his actions do more to hinder his team than to help it. Throughout the final two games of this series, games the Canadiens won by a combined score of 7-1, you could see Lucic seething on the bench. He was boiling. And all he had in mind was taking someone’s head off. The stunts that were supposed to rattle the Habs instead rattled Lucic himself — and his teammates.
If you hadn’t figured out by Game 6 of this rock ’em, sock ’em series that the Canadiens were not going to be intimidated, you’re pretty dense. Obviously, that designation applies to Marchand, Thornton and Lucic.
After this debacle, you would hope the Bruins would have the good sense to jettison Marchand and Thornton. They’re nothing but a distraction and those two roster spots would be far better filled by players who put real pressure on the Montreal defence, rather than a couple of clowns whose net contribution was a whole lot of bush league behaviour and zero offence.
Lucic is another matter. He’s a better player and, when he’s doing his job, one of the best power forwards in the league. But again and again, he gets caught up in these sideshow dramas with opponents ranging from Alexei Emelin to Dale Weise to P.K. Subban.
It says something that Weise outplayed Lucic by a wide margin in this series. Granted, Weise is (with Mike Weaver) one of the feel-good stories of the post-season for the Canadiens, but if you’re Neely and you consider Lucic one of your stars, do you really want him running around pounding his chest and trying to start trouble all over the ice while Weise puts the puck in your net?
Lucic can start plenty of trouble going to the net, parking himself there and daring someone to move him. That’s his game. That’s where he should have been when he was playing head bull in the china shop, trying to murder players who simply spun away from his checks and started a rush going the other way.
No matter how Lucic played, the Canadiens were going to win this series. Michel Therrien outcoached Julien, Subban outplayed Zdeno Chara and the Canadiens outworked, outhustled and outskated the Bruins in every phase of the game.
With a break or two, the Canadiens could have swept this one in four games. As it was, they led on the scoreboard most of the way and the Bruins were constantly reduced to chasing, with the sole exception of Game 5.
But you have to feel for the classy players in the Boston lineup, guys like Patrice Bergeron, Jarome Iginla and David Krejci. They weren’t simply beaten by a better team, they were also embarrassed by their own teammates, especially Lucic.
It’s one of the great traditions of an often brutal sport, lining up for the final handshake with your union brethren. The Canadiens and Bruins had battled like a pair of wolverines fighting over the last shred of meat on a carcass. The proper thing to do was to stand in line, shake hands like a man, show a little class.
Instead, Lucic chose to act like a spoiled baby and a sore loser. In the end, he accomplished nothing except to drag down his team and his sport.
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