BOSTON -- The Vancouver Canucks and Montreal Canadiens hold relatively advantageous positions in their opening-round series, but have there ever been two teams for which the forecast is so dire?
The Canucks are a loss away from blowing a 3-0 series lead and falling into a tie with the Chicago Blackhawks and skittish Left Coast fans must be wondering what in the name of Orland Kurtenbach they did to offend the hockey gods. Against the 'Hawks, no less. Really?
The Habs won the first two games in Boston against the Bruins, then went home and played like a team that thought having Jean Beliveau or Henri Richard passing a torch to a kid to skate around the ice would be enough to get the job done.
What's happening to the imploding Canucks is the most compelling story in the Stanley Cup playoffs, but the shift in momentum in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal between the Habs and Bruins is also a study in how momentum now runs around the playoffs like a greased pig.
Montreal and Boston are tied 2-2 after the Bruins' overtime win Thursday in Game 4 in which the Habs blew 3-1 and 4-3 leads. The road team has won all the games in the Habs-Bruins series which has yet to see both teams play their best hockey at the same time heading into Game 5 Saturday night at TD Garden.
Are the Canadiens frustrated with how they saw their game fall apart at home?
"No, no," Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. "Obviously, the guys were disappointed (Thursday). It was an emotional game and it was a tough game to lose, for sure. We were up twice in that game, 3-1 and then 4-3 in the third there. We wanted to have that win. Today there is nothing you can do about it. All you can do is prepare for (Saturday)."
A few key developments have put a hole in what had been an airtight red, white and blue balloon.
- Goaltender Carey Price, after giving up just one goal on 66 shots in Boston, surrendered eight goals on 59 shots in Montreal (one was an empty-netter).
"It's a team game and mistakes are going to happen. I made mistakes in Game 3," Price said before the Habs packed up Friday for Boston. "Every player has to own it and come back with a better effort. The best way to get over it is just to own it. I said sorry after Game 3."
- P.K. Subban. The rookie defenceman was strong in the first two games, skating the puck out of danger and doing a great job against Bruins forward Milan Lucic. But Subban's game was on decline in Montreal. He led the Habs in giveaways in the two games at the Bell Centre and made a bad line change that helped lead to the Boston winner in Game 4 in overtime.
- Gionta and Scott Gomez. The veteran forwards were the best skaters on the ice in the first two games, but their performances went south when the series moved north. They were on the ice for the Bruins' last four goals of the 5-4 decision in Game 4.
- The Bruins. They looked tight and nervous in the first two games, especially with the puck, but have gradually improved. Big defenceman Zdeno Chara looks like he's over whatever it was that caused him to miss Game 2.
- History. The previous two times the Canadiens won the opening two games on the road, they lost the next four in a row (1996 vs. the New York Rangers; 2006 vs. Carolina).
What a spring.
Who knew Canadiens fans could find optimism in their team going to Boston?
Canucks fans can't be feeling so good about their team hitting the road.