MONTREAL - It took less than three minutes for the Canadiens to prove to the Bruins that their memories of a 7-0 embarrassment in their last meeting have been erased. Whatever mental edge Boston held before this got underway was purely a fan-conceived notion, and a fabricated one on the Bruins' behalf.

If there was one thing the Bruins knew about the dynamic between themselves and the Canadiens before entering these playoffs, it was that they were the ones who lost the season-series 4-2, and in the two games they managed to win, they didn't face the Montreal Canadiens that beat them in the other four games.

And the Canadiens aren't the only thing in the Bruins' heads. Casting long shadows are the memories of an epic playoff collapse last season, while the Canadiens are basking in the game plan that got them past Washington and past Pittsburgh in their fantasia run to the conference finals.

Driving into the office this morning, I was listening to former players Bobby Dollas and Karl Dykhuis on the Team990 break down what we saw from the Bruins last night. Both intimated that they were shocked to see Boston's physicality fail to rise to the occasion; that they couldn't understand how Montreal could exert themselves as much as the Bruins did in that realm of play.

By night's end, the hit-count read 29-28 Boston.

Allow me to offer an explanation to the two seasoned NHL veterans:

Boston's offensive chip-and-charge strategy couldn't be employed with regularity because the Canadiens did a phenomenal job of breaking their rhythm through the neutral zone. The Canadiens forced Bruins defenders to push hard outlet passes or soft chip-outs from their own zone, and the forwards had a very difficult time seizing control from there.

It wasn't that the Bruins couldn't execute their game plan to smash the Canadiens out of the rink with physicality; it was that they couldn't do it in the areas of the ice that would afford them more scoring opportunities. They were disjointed on the forecheck--as a result of Montreal's stingy neutral zone coverage, and they were overzealous without the puck, which enabled the Canadiens to control play all the way up the ice.

And I'll let you in on another strategy they employed with great success. It's referred to as "fronting the man." Everyone knew before this series started that the Bruins were going to have to get major traffic in front of Carey Price in order to tip the scales in their favour, and while they were successful at setting those opportunities up, the Montreal defence got in front of stacked Bruins bodies to block 19 shots that ultimately kick-started their transition, with speedy Montreal forwards charging towards the Bruins end--leaving their counterparts well behind the play.

The shots may have finished 31-20 in favour of the Bruins, but they had as many quality scoring chances as Tomas Plekanec did on the night, and neither were able to cash in. This game, which Montreal typically held onto tightly before Gionta put it out of reach with less than four minutes to play, went down exactly how the Canadiens hoped it would. And if you're the Bruins, you have to worry that it was lost despite the fact they were able to play their style of game.

Their style of play didn't frustrate the Canadiens; it emboldened them. The Habs' third period was picture-perfect; shift-length under 45 seconds, red line gained with solid outlets and good commitment, and most importantly--they didn't allow Boston an opportunity with the powerplay. They played with an edge.

And getting back to the importance of mental edge, that's what the Canadiens likely held before last night, and if they didn't, they own it now. It's the Bruins who will have to consider altering their game-plan. If they believe the only thing they have to do to beat Montreal is to hit them into oblivion, this series might be over before there's a chance of it becoming competitive.

The ball is now in Tim Thomas' court to respond.

The onus is now on Krejci, Lucic and Horton to match the effectiveness of Brad Marchand, who was Boston's best player by a country mile last night.

As for the Habs, they'll just keep on trucking with their game plan. They'll stand on Carey Price's shoulders, and hopefully ride the wave to a 2-0 series lead.

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