Did anyone expect this?
Maybe the Montreal Canadiens, who once again blitzed the Boston Bruins in their building, saw this coming. The score this time was 3-1, and the star again was goaltender Carey Price. But the drama leading into Game 2 centered on Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Hospitalized Friday night for dehydration, he took warm-up in a valiant attempt to play on Saturday. He could not -- felled by a virus that has him questionable for Game 3 -- and the resulting sag by his team and jolt of adrenaline for the Habs led to, in hindsight, a predictable beginning.
The Canadiens scored in the first minute and then again before the game was three minutes old. The entire Bruins squad looked out of sync, out of sorts. Their counterparts, on the other hand, appeared ready to seize the moment and jump a wounded foe. They skated with passion and purpose, leaving the B's reeling and trailing after 20 minutes. To their credit, the Bruins righted themselves in the second, finally finding a way to get through the neutral zone with speed. When Patrice Bergeron beat Price to make it 2-1, the building came to life and the Bruins' countenance finally showed hope.
It was short-lived, though. Yannik Weber scored on a rebound late in the second period to restore the visitor's two-goal margin. The building went silent and the Bruins' bench slumped. Without Chara to provide his usual skill and stability in every situation, the Bruins' blueliners struggled. On all three goals, Boston's defense had full possession of the puck and turned it over -- only to have it end up in the back of the net. The Bruins defenders lacked confidence and made too many poor reads coming out of their own zone. The Canadiens, in turn, skated hard and feasted on the indecision.
The third period was telling, if not compelling. The Bruins, facing a 2-0 series deficit, showed little resolve or remedy. Price was part of the mounting frustration, but that seemed too easily turned to resignation. The lack of passionate response to their dire situation was resounding. Without Chara -- who was a late scratch prior to Game 2 -- maybe this effort and outcome was predictable.
The Bruins didn't see it coming.