After Detroit, Onward To Montreal For The Bruins

Bruins Advance Past Red Wings

Red Wings goalie Jonas Gustavsson skates off the ice as the Boston Bruins celebrate their 4-2 victory in Game 5. Boston advances after a 4-1 series win. (Jared Wickerham / Getty Images / April 26, 2014)

BOSTON — Each Stanley Cup playoff game has a pulse of its own. First round to last, each of its games pounds to its own heartbeat. Regular, irregular and sometimes, well, sometimes it races like a mad dog after a cheap cut of beef.

Yes, each Stanley Cup playoff game has its own story. Maybe more important, in the retelling, each develops its own legend.

Which is a flowery 64-word prelude to the obvious: After finishing off the Red Wings in five games at TD Garden, the Bruins will face Montreal in the conference semifinals. Of course, they will. It is both teams' destiny. They began meeting long before the Whalers existed in Hartford and they're continuing to meet long after the Whalers exited from Hartford.

It is the rite of spring. It is le sacre du printemps or something like that. I seem to have misplaced my old Adams Division dictionary. I am, however, certain that the Bruins and Canadiens will meet for the 34th time in the playoffs, the most of any in North American sports.

This first-round series ended late Saturday afternoon because the Red Wings could muster only six goals in five games. It ended when the Red Wings cut the Boston lead to one with 3:52 left, but were caught with too many men on the ice. Considering that same infraction infamously led to the Bruins' Game 7 loss to Montreal and subsequent firing of Don Cherry in 1979, perhaps that penalty is an even better prelude to what comes next.

But first the story of what happened Saturday and the delightful hyperbole that surely will surround Zdeno Chara's one-time slap shot that beat goalie Jonas Gustavsson with 3.8 seconds left in the second period.

"I'm not sure how fast it went," Bruins defenseman Torey Krug said. "I just thought it was going to go through the net."

With the Bruins with a 4-on-3 power play and the game tied at one, Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk tangled on a faceoff draw. Red Wings coach Mike Babcock screamed for an obstruction penalty on Bergeron for pushing his player into the official. There was no call, but there was the 6-9 Chara using his enormous reach to poke the puck deep. Seconds later, Bergeron had the puck near the left corner at the goal line and he fired a beautiful diagonal pass out to Chara at the top of the right faceoff circle.

The giant Slovak stepped into it with a swift and mighty blow that beat Gustavsson to the right corner.

"Huge shot, huge goal," said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who stopped 31 of 33 shots in the game and 150 of 156 in a splendid series.

"By a huge leader," said Bergeron.

"Z has a lethal shot," said Milan Lucic, who stuffed a third-period shot behind Gustavsson for Boston's third goal in this 4-2 victory.

"I could never shoot it that hard," 20-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton said.

"Had to be north of 100 mph, for sure," Krug said.

Chara holds the record for the fastest slap shot ever measured, 108.8 mph at the 2012 NHL All-Star skills competition. By the time the Bruins had left the locker room, the shot Saturday sounded like it had traveled at least 120 mph. By the time the Bruins sat down for dinner, it was 150. By Sunday breakfast it figured to be up to 200 mph. And when the story of the 2014 playoffs is written and rewritten, maybe with these Bruins getting to the finals for the third time in four years and winning their second Stanley Cup in that time, surely that shot will have broken the speed of sound.

Ah, hockey playoff legend.

The big man isn't one to go overly demonstrative after a goal, but this time was different.

"Big game, big goal," Chara said. "So I'm not afraid to show it."

At first, Chara said he didn't care if he clunked the shot and it bounced in off a leg, just as long as it went in the net. Then he admitted what it felt like to perfectly one-time a shot with the power of Paul Bunyan.

"Don't get me wrong, it feels good," Chara said. "You work so hard to hit those kinds of shots and that specific area. It's hard. In practice, you're getting puck after puck after puck and you can time it. In the game there is one puck, one chance, one pass. You have to bury it. For sure, if that goes in, all those shots you take in practice, for it to pay off …"

Interrupted in mid-sentence and asked if he had defended his hardest shot crown and hit triple digits, Chara laughed and said, "Guys, guys, I'm just happy we moved on."

Oh, yes, moved on to the Canadiens. Moved on to the 34th passion play that surely will accompany this 34th series. From a rookie named Ken Dryden stunning the Big Bad Bruins, to Cherry's demise, to all the controversy after Chara had knocked Connecticut's Max Pacioretty unconscious late in the 2010-11 regular season. The Bruins beat Montreal for only the ninth time in 33 playoff meetings in 2011 on Nathan Horton's Game 7 overtime goal, but not without some histrionics and without a power play goal. It would be the first time that Boston had beaten Montreal en route to winning the Stanley Cup since 1929.

"There's a lot of history behind both teams," Bergeron said. "It will be fun to be part of it. They know what we got. We know what they got. We're expecting a tough, long series."

The power play is working. The penalty-killing is working. Rask is as sharp as any goalie in the game. With Chara and Bergeron leading the way, the Bruins, who had the best record in the NHL during the regular season, have some of the best leadership and composure in the game. They are structured and they are poised. They are going to be a tough, tough out.

They also have two young, dazzling puck-moving defensemen in Hamilton and Krug (who made a huge play to keep the puck in the zone on the Lucic goal). Lucic and Bergeron say they can't believe Hamilton is only 20. And to add to the story line, there's Loui Eriksson, who scored a goal Saturday.

The Bruins killed off 18 of 20 Detroit power plays. The Bruins power play, ranked third in the league in the regular season, scored on six of 16. Those are numbers that win series.

"Our power play is a weapon instead of something that takes momentum away from us," Lucic said. "And with our PK, special teams became a much bigger factor in this series than people thought."

Jarome Iginla, who dumped the final goal in the empty net, insisted that the Bruins didn't let Montreal, which swept Tampa Bay, prematurely creep into their thoughts.

"Guys were never ever really talking about Montreal," Iginla said. "We know they've won their series and they're going to be next, but the only talk today was Detroit and getting this series over."

As the Bruins fans chanted, "We want the Cup!" what's next became impossible to ignore. Next up is the rite of spring, le sacre du printemps, or something like that.

Featured Stories

CTnow is using Facebook comments on stories. To comment on ctnow.com articles, sign into Facebook and enter your comment in the field below. Comments will appear in your Facebook News Feed unless you choose otherwise. To report spam or abuse, click the X next to the comment. For guidelines on commenting, click here.