Quiz question: how many times this season have the Bruins risen to a challenge and been victorious? Answer: none.
Going into the final game of the season Tuukka Rask commented something to the effect that, "every game matters and that's good." I had to wonder if he was fully aware of the irony of that statement. The only reason the final game mattered was that they had lost the previous game, which would have cinched the division title. The sad fact is that the only reason every game mattered this season is that every time a game mattered the Bruins lost it, right up to and including that last one.
Every game that pitted them against a top team to see how they measured up, they lost. All four against Pittsburgh, and three of the four against Montreal. That one win against Montreal was in their first meeting way back on February 6, before it was clear that Montreal was going to pose a strong threat for the division title.
The Bruins even managed to lose against lesser teams when the division was on the line. We kept hearing how the Bruins could take first place in the division if they beat Washington, or Philadelphia, Ottawa, or Buffalo. The result was always the same. When the pressure was on and the challenge was thrown down, they lost every single time.
Near the end of the season we saw the Bruins improve their game, for sure. But sadly, the results have been the same. When it mattered against Washington and Ottawa, they did not find a way to win. They looked sharp, for the most part, but they have lost their ability to overpower a team and score when the game is on the line, and worse yet, they have lost their ability to play shutdown defense to hold on to a lead.
I am hopeful, of course. Some players have had a much needed rest in the past few days, and I am confident that the talent and coaching is all there to make a long run into the post season. But the playoffs are the ultimate test of finding a way to win when it matters, and the Bruins have yet to do that even once. Unless they finally get their act together they aren't going to make it past the first round. In fact, I'm picking the Leafs in five. Believe me, I don't take any joy out of this prediction.