BOSTON - Ailing defenceman Zdeno Chara probably saw more than his share of intravenous hookups in the last couple of days.
That’s nothing compared to his Boston Bruins whose Stanley Cup aspirations, so bright at the beginning of this post-season, are now on life support.
Chara, suffering from dehydration, was white as a ghost as he took the warmup, but did not play in what turned out to be the Habs’ 3-1 win in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal, sending them back to the Bell Centre (bring your earplugs for Game 3 Monday) with a shocking 2-0 series lead.
Now everybody Bruins supporter here in Beantown is wearing the same sickly look.
History isn’t smiling on the Bruins, either: they are 0-26 in series in which they have trailed 2-0.
“We’ve only won two games, so I don’t know if we’ve had success yet in this series,” said Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri, who opened the scoring just 43 seconds into the game on a big cupcake rebound from Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas, who’s looking like anything but a Vezina Trophy favourite. “In fact, I know we haven’t. I got no time for that (being happy with the lead). Seriously. If we’re sitting here happy with that and celebrating, then we’re making a crucial mistake. You can be happy and the fans can be happy, our parents and families can be happy and good for them. I’m dead serious. We have no time to be happy right now.”
This was supposed to be a Bruins team ready to win a Cup, picked by many to be the Eastern Conference representative in the final.
Now they are faced with having to win four out of five games to avert what can only be described as a disaster at the hands of their most-hated rival.
If there was any good news for the B’s Saturday night going forward, it is that they finally got a puck behind Montreal goaltender Carey Price, who, when all was said and done, probably played a stronger game with bigger saves than he did in shutting out the Bruins 2-0 in Game 1 Thursday.
The goal, by Boston’s Patrice Bergeron at 7:38 of the second period, cut the Canadiens lead to 2-1 and finally gave the Boston faithful something for which to cheer after 94 minutes and 12 seconds of shutout hockey by Price going back to last spring.
Not to take anything away from the sixth-seeded Canadiens - who are using the formula they used to upset the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins last spring - but the Bruins have been almost as responsible for their predicament.
The self-imposed pressure they put on themselves by stating anything short of reaching the conference final would be a disappointment has been evident on their faces this week and, more importantly, in their hands.
“I thought we were a little more tight, actually, than we were in Game 1,” said Bruins veteran Mark Recchi. “But I believe in this team and we’ll be ready on Monday and we’ll regroup.”
The Canadiens have outdistanced the B’s in the handling of the puck. All three Canadiens goals came directly off of Bruins turnovers, no bigger than a fourth-line goal from Yannick Weber, the D-man playing up front after Andrei Kostitsyn couldn’t go because of a sore foot. Weber made it 3-1 on another rebound at 17:21 of the second.
The Canadiens have played poised, steady hockey, moving the puck smartly, keeping their shifts short and crisp, sacrificing on defence (they led the Bruins 27-6 in blocked shots) and leaning heavily on Price. He made a big stop with three minutes to go in the first period when he turned back struggling Bruins power forward Milan Lucic on a great chance.
The Bruins left the ice to the sound of boos from the disappointed fans who had such high hopes for this post-season.
It’s not over yet, but that respirator hooked up to the B’s chances is beeping.
And the Habs have two hands on the plug.