If you were scripting the way things actually transpired between the Bruins and Canadiens on Sunday … well, you were probably rooting for Boston.
The Habs actually played quite well against a Bruins team that’s given just about everyone fits, an impressive feat considering the game was also in the not-so-friendly confines of Boston. A funky Joel Armia goal gave Montreal a 1-0 lead about two minutes into the game, and the Canadiens managed to hold that lead for a long time.
… And then, well, things went about the way you’d expect between a Bruins team that is now on a seven-game winning streak, whose 3-1 victory pushed the Canadiens’ collapse to eight consecutive losses.
It almost seemed cruel when David Pastrnak smashed a puck past Carey Price at the 6:16 mark of the third period, right down to Pastrnak’s celebration:
Oof. Everything about this is a big oof, unless you’re that cruel, hypothetical Bruins fan penning the script (the genre’s definitely horror).
David Backes and Jake DeBrusk helped Boston pour it on to win Sunday’s contest, giving the B’s three goals in less than eight minutes to swipe a possible Montreal confidence-booster away, not even handing the Canadiens a charity point.
[MORE: A look at Montreal’s struggles when the slump was at five games]
To reiterate: it’s not as if the Canadiens stunk up the joint. This wasn’t Claude Julien’s answer to Mike Babcock watching the Penguins throttle Toronto 6-1.
Really, then, it comes down to taste: what hurts more, the blowout loss or falling just that close against a mighty team?
The eight-game losing streak has to heat up Claude Julien’s seat, no doubt about it.
But the more probing, painful question is: should the changes reach higher than the bench, and go right up the chain of command, all the way to GM Marc Bergevin?
We’re watching as Carey Price crumbles, carrying an unsettling .897 save percentage into Sunday’s game, and being without a win since Nov. 15. While some Bergevin moves look better with time (the Max Domi deal is a winner, and combining P.K. Subban‘s $9M AAV with Price’s $10.5M cap hit would be scary right now), the overall plan still seems lacking. And let’s not kid ourselves: Bergevin’s had plenty of time to sort things out.
Again, at least on Sunday, it’s tough to knock Montreal’s effort. They remain a strong possession team under Julien, and they haven’t enjoyed the greatest puck luck.
Eventually, people start to lose patience that the bounces will start to go the right way. An eight-game losing streak tends to intensify such feelings, particularly when you’re watching your historical rivals stomping around at your expense.
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.