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WHAT THE PUCK: NHL grass is greener on Bruins' side of the fence

 The Boston Bruins celebrate after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 to win the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday, May 16, 2019, in Raleigh, N.C.
The Boston Bruins celebrate after defeating the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 4 to win the Eastern Conference Final on Thursday, May 16, 2019, in Raleigh, N.C.

Here’s a quick and easy quiz to start things off today.

How many Stanley Cups have the Montreal Canadiens won since 2011? How many times in the last eight years have they made it to the Cup final? The answers are zero and zero.

With the Boston Bruins sweeping those Carolina Hurricanes “jerks” via a 4-0 pummelling Thursday night, the Habs’ archrivals are set to go the Cup final for the third time since 2011. To refresh the selective memories of delusional Habs fans, Boston won the Cup in 2011, then made it back to the final in 2013 and famously came within seconds of forcing Game 7 against the Chicago Blackhawks. So that adds up to one Cup and three finals in eight years, and most people I know think the Bruins are the most likely 2019 Cup winners.

Yet here in Montreal, so many are still saying that everything is just fine and dandy with their hockey team. The strange argument goes something like this: We missed the playoffs for the third time in four years, but we have all these great prospects and the future’s bright. Well I’d suggest that predicting the future, plus $4.50, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Who knows what’s gonna happen in the next few seasons?

All we know for sure is what happened in the past and by that measure, the situation with the Canadiens is dire. In my last column , I pointed out that our real rivals are the Bruins, but I’m beginning to wonder how long that will last. You can only be rivals in the NHL if you meet in the playoffs and you can’t meet anyone in the playoffs if you don’t reach the post-season. The fact is there is a real rivalry building between the Maple Leafs and the Bruins because they’ve met in a few recent hard-fought post-season series.

So it’s hard not to look at the fact the Bruins are headed back to the final and think, why is it that Marc Bergevin’s Canadiens can’t have that kind of success? There’s is justifiable excitement about the young players coming down the Habs pipeline, such as Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Nick Suzuki, Josh Brook and Ryan Poehling.

But even if they all turn out to be full-on NHL successes — which is unlikely — you still have to ask: Where are the team’s equivalent of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnák and Brad Marchand? You might say that Montreal has the best goalie in hockey in Carey Price, but your friendly neighbourhood Bruins fan will retort that the Bs have a goalie, Tuukka Rask, who is playing better in the playoffs than Price ever did and is costing them US$3.5 million less annually than Price.

(One of the reasons Rask is flying in the playoffs is because he was well rested. That’s because the Bruins have a quality backup in Jaroslav Halak, who played 40 games this season. Price played 66 games because Bergevin oddly did not get a decent backup when it became clear Antti Niemi was no longer NHL material. Price would likely have been exhausted if the Habs had made the playoffs.)

The fact is the Bruins are a better team than the Habs. End of story.

Pacioretty embraces Vegas: Did you see Max Pacioretty’s comments about how much he loves playing for the Vegas Golden Knights? The former Canadiens captain told The Athletic’s Jesse Granger: “Being in Vegas has exceeded all my expectations. We have everything here, the best fans, the best ownership, coaching, players in the room, weather, city and building. It’s really a privilege to not only play in the NHL, but really to play in Vegas. Who would’ve thought that before there was a team here that we would be talking about this place as a destination that every player wants to play in this organization?”

It’s hard not to see the comments as a veiled hit at Canadiens management, underlining once again that there is no love lost between Bergevin and Patches. That becomes even clearer farther down in the column: “Genuinely I meant everything that I said about this organization, the city and the fans. It would be ranked No. 1 in the NHL among any player, I think, especially after they play here. Not to say my time in Montreal wasn’t great, it was. But there was a lot of adversity and when things don’t go well, you’re always looking for answers. It seemed that a lot of the times it was directed towards me.”

In another words, yet another Hab who is much happier in another organization. Interesting.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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