The Boston Bruins didn’t achieve their ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup, as they were eliminated Wednesday night in the second round by the Montreal Candiens. Despite that disappointing finish, the season wasn’t a total failure, according to Bruins president Cam Neely.
The Hall of Fame forward made his weekly radio appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub on Thursday afternoon, where he admitted he was still processing the team’s early exit. Neely was still trying to figure out how the Bruins could be so dominant for most of the regular season and then have it all fall apart during the playoffs, especially in Round 2 against Montreal.
“During that fantastic stretch in March we basically had all four lines rolling, and for some reason in this series here, we didn’t have that same output from the four lines,” Neely said on the Felger and Massarotti Show. “We got behind early and often and we had to play catch-up and were having problems generating offense.”
That was the case in both Games 6 and 7 against the Habs. Montreal took advantage of bad Boston mistakes in the first few minutes of each game and scored the game’s first goal. Montreal then packed it in and didn’t allow the Bruins to get much of anything offensively, which ultimately made the difference.
“You’ve gotta give Montreal a lot of credit,” Neely added. “We knew it was going to be a tough series and we knew they had a great goaltender. From my perspective I think we could have played better. I think everyone in that locker room would say they could have played better. The frustrating part is that it’s a situation where as well as Montreal played, we didn’t play as well as we could have. It might have been a different outcome if that wasn’t the case.”
If there is a silver lining for Neely and the Bruins, it’s that the handful of young players on the Boston roster got a chance to experience what it’s like to play in that kind of environment.
“Any time you’ve got young players and they play in this environment and get this experience, it’s only going to make them better,” Neely said. “As the year that we had was a great regular season and you win the Presidents’ Trophy and then all of a sudden maybe there’s a little more pressure and higher expectations — we had high expectations going into the area — but there are still some areas where our guys can learn from losing. You’ve gotta look at those lessons and we can learn from it or we can crumble by them. I think we’ve got a pretty strong group and they’ll take this experience and learn from it.”