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Bruins know more effort is needed

by Shawn P. Roarke

"I thought in the second period we came out a little flat. We stopped doing the things we should be doing. Let's be honest, the second period was a lot more Montreal than it was us and that's where I thought our game wasn't as good as it had been." -- Claude Julien

BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins know that winning Thursday's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 1 against Montreal was pivotal. They just would have liked to have done it in a more emphatic manner.

The 4-2 victory at the TD Banknorth series gives Boston the upper hand heading into Saturday night's Game 2 (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS, CBC, RDS), but the Bruins know they will have to be better in that game if they plan on heading to Montreal with a two-games-to-none stranglehold in this best-of-7 series.

Because, it is easy to argue that from the time Boston's David Krejci gave the home team a 2-0 lead at the 14:41 mark of the first until a few minutes before Zdeno Chara scored the game-winner on a power play at the 11:15 mark of the third period, Boston was the second-best team on the Garden ice.

And everyone knows from experience that is not the way a No. 1 seed like the Bruins should play a No. 8 seed. If that pattern continues, it could be a recipe for disaster.

"I thought in the second period we came out a little flat," said Claude Julien, the Boston coach. "We stopped doing the things we should be doing.

"Let's be honest, the second period was a lot more Montreal than it was us and that's where I thought our game wasn't as good as it had been."

Boston defenseman Aaron Ward says his team ran into trouble because it strayed from its system, not because it succumbed to the brilliance of the Montreal Canadiens’ attack.

"We sat back in our system," Ward insisted. "All you have to do is look back to our skid during the season. When you play your system and you are losing battles and your feet are not moving and you are not making focused decisions, you get what you have with guys running around."

Montreal out-shot Boston 13-10 in the middle period and, more importantly, spent huge swaths of time in the attacking zone, forcing Boston to put its energy into defending instead of attacking. Toward the end of the period, Montreal had its cycle going so well that the garden faithful began to ride its team a little, using a little negative energy to wake up the home team.

Because, the second-period Bruins bore little resemblance to the dominating team that spent most of the season as the class of the Eastern Conference and a legitimate threat to take home the Presidents' Trophy. It was certainly not the form that help Boston win a whopping 53 regular-season games.

No, when Boston is at the height of its powers, it is playing a puck-possession game, transitioning quickly out of its zone and using the speed of its forwards to put opposing defenses on their heels. In the middle of Thursday night's game, Boston was playing a lot more dump-and-chase hockey than it likes to play. Plus, it was allowing Montreal to transition and counter attack without the usual opposition that has become a trademark of Boston's back-checking philosophy.

That message was delivered by the players to each other during the second intermission when a 2-2 tie hung over the room like a death sentence.

"It was the third period, we needed to win the period, win the game basically" said goalie Tim Thomas. "We needed to find some more energy. We, for whatever reason, may have been a little flat-footed in the second period; so we were able to dig deep and find that in the third period and come out with the win."

David Krejci, who was the No. 2 star after registering a goal and an assist in the game's first 15 minutes, said his team wanted to play a more complete game.

"We always wanted to play our game for the whole 60 minutes," he said. "But, there were some mistakes, we made some mistakes in the second period, but then we come back and we stuck with the game plan."

In the playoffs, it is the W that matters. There are no extra benefits for style points. Now, Boston has the first of its playoff victories under its belt, which is something eight other playoff teams -- including the Montreal Canadiens -- can't say when they wake up and greet Saturday morning.

So, in the end, what does Thursday night's result really mean to the Bruins?

"It means we get 15 minutes to feel good about ourselves before we have to do it all over again," said Thomas.

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