And so, the first four games in the playoffs now mean nothing. They're starting from scratch, and it's not going to be easy at all. The thing is, the Canadiens played the best they could last night.
Sure, people will pick them apart today. Why couldn't they keep up the intensity when they were up 3-1? Why did Price let in at least two soft goals, after being so solid all season? Why did the defence give up that fateful odd-man rush in OT? The answer to all of those questions is because they're human.
No team can keep up 60 minutes of intensity at the level the Canadiens showed in the first period. They get tired, the adrenaline doesn't pump at the same level and they slack off a little bit. Price was so great for most of the year, we forget nobody can be perfect all the time. The defence is old, slow and ham-handed and relying on a 21-year-old rookie to carry the bulk of the hard minutes. Mistakes will happen. In the end, the Canadiens played the best game they could, when you consider their human frailties. With their weak D and the number of forwards they carry who just can't score, they're not as deep as the Bruins. They're better when they play at the very limit of their abilities, but when they slack off, as is inevitable, the Bruins come back at them with their deeper, bigger, more opportunistic lineup.
I thought if the Canadiens lost Game Four, it would be the end of the series for them. It may still be, but we know this team has depths of character and grit that can help them punch above their weight. Watching David Desharnais take on Chara and Brian Gionta buzzing like a wasp's nest all night was inspiring, and so we can't count this team out. Andrei Kostitsyn is using his size and shot as he rarely did in the regular season, and Tomas Plekanec is doing a fabulous job containing the Krejci line. There's still hope. It's not the end of the world if they do lose, though.
We knew going into this that the Habs have a hard time scoring and their D isn't very good. (Watching Duncan Keith dominate for Chicago last night was enough to make you cry.) Those facts are now coming into play in the series, and it shouldn't be surprising. The two-game lead to start the series was great, but the Bruins weren't going to die easily. If we look at the positives, we know this can be a very good team with a couple of adjustments to the supporting cast, a healthy Pacioretty powering to the net to pump in big goals and Markov and Gorges back on D. In the meantime, they're doing the best they can with the players they have. It's not like they're not trying hard. They are. Mistakes will happen and there's nothing we fans can do about it except hope for fewer of them next time.
Honestly, I'm not expecting the Canadiens to win the series. I'm also not expecting them to lose it. We're down to a best-of-three and if there's one thing this team is good at, it's the unexpected.