Everything turns up Habs as they more than earn trip to East finals

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

The Habs are moving on after taking out Boston in seven. (Getty Images)
The Habs are moving on after taking out Boston in seven. (Getty Images)

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Taking down the Boston Bruins in a seven-game series for a team in the East requires a lot of things to go right. The Montreal Canadiens had a lot of things go right.

That's not to disparage the Canadiens or take anything away from their 3-1 win in Game 7 and their series victory over the Bruins. They played very well and undoubtedly earned their spot in the Eastern Conference final, nobody would dare say otherwise having watched Montreal hold leads in this series more often than not.

But they had the hockey gods smiling upon them against Boston. Whether it was the bounces going against Boston or going for Montreal, fortune was their friend and at this time of year, you take all the friends you can get.

The final goal of Game 7 was pretty close to a microcosm of the series and this idea.

The Bruins were forced to kill a Johnny Boychuk penalty in the final five minutes of the game when they were pushing so hard for the equalizing goal. Boston no doubt had beef on calls early in the game that didn't end up burning them but there was no disputing this one, it was a bad penalty at a horrible time. It gave the Canadiens a few minutes of reprieve and it also gave Daniel Briere some space to do what he does best; make something happen in a playoff game.

Nearly a point-per-game in his long playoff career, Briere already had one point in the game with an assist just a couple of minutes into the game. He was looking for another one when his pass through the slot on the rush hit Zdeno Chara's skate and went in the net behind Tuukka Rask.

Just like that, the Bruins were defeated. It was hard to shake the feeling that a Bruins comeback was imminent, they have been so good at this over the years to the point you almost expect it. But when Briere scored this fluke of a goal, they had little response.

Montreal waited a long time to get Briere back in Quebec to play for their team but with his Game 7, perhaps the wait was worth it.

But as we said, it was the series in a nutshell. In addition to the Habs getting a friendly bounce in their favor it was just one more sour note for Chara, who had one of the worst series you'll see from him (don't be surprised if we find out he was dealing with an injury or two).

On the other side for Boston, they clanked a few more off the iron in Game 7, the inverse of the Canadiens. That sound, that ping, will haunt Boston all summer long as they hit about two posts per game in this series. That close but that far.

Part of that, of course, is the fact that Carey Price didn't give them much to look at beyond the posts and again, full credit to the Canadiens. They shut down Boston's top line for the most part and made the Bruins chase all series long. Everything just seemed to go their way, but the thing is, teams playing well put themselves into position to have bounces go their way and there's no debating the Canadiens did that.

They had the good luck on their side but even without it we still might be talking about a Canadiens-Rangers conference final, the Habs earned this.

 
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