Tuesday, May 13, 2014

2014 Bruins Need To Channel 2001 Avalanche Now More Than Ever

Boston Bruins buffs who have spent the 2013-14 season banking on Jarome Iginla as the “reverse Ray Bourque” have reached the climax of the Colorado-Los Angeles phase. The padded personnel are on a threshold between the halfway mark of the Stanley Cup playoffs and elimination.

New England puckheads old enough to at least be graduating high school in the next month should remember enough to draw parallels. A President’s Trophy-winning team with a dense corps of Cup winners and one aging, Cup-less legend has let a worthy adversary force Game 7 in the second round.

The 2000-01 Avalanche had a 3-1 lead on the Kings in the Western Conference Final, only to let that pothole fill for lack of production. Back-to-back 1-0 falters necessitated a rubber tilt at the Pepsi Center.

The present-day Bruins had a chance to snuff the Montreal Canadiens on Monday, but retched a 4-0 stinker. As penance, they will have their rivals follow them home for Wednesday’s winner-take-all fixture at the TD Garden.

Paging through the commemorative tome Mission 16W (co-authored by longtime Denver Post scribe and part-time Bleacher Report colleague Adrian Dater) casts light on additional similarities at this stage.

When the Avs whiffed on their closeout bid on the road, they fired 33 vain shots at the Kings cage. Captain Joe Sakic led that fruitless struggle with five registered stabs.

When the Bruins spilled their first chance to put away the Habs, they let Carey Price complete a 26-save shutout. Iginla, the most seasoned forward on the strike force, piloted the fruitless toil with six shots on goal. Linemates Milan Lucic and center and alternate captain David Krejci combined for five.

When Colorado missed its first of three eventual chances to close out the Kings, its power play slipped to three conversions on 29 segments in the series. Through six games, including a blown first chance out of two to dump Montreal, Boston’s power play is a similarly plebeian 2-for-15 against the Canadiens’ penalty-killing brigade.

The Avs of the past and the Bs of the present each endured a washout en route to a whitewash on their first attempt to reach the conference final. The former club had Milan Hejduk’s would-be Game 5 equalizer waved off due to a high stick. The latter watched Montreal center David Desharnais legally halt the puck on his own goal line in the closing frame.

Both team failed to let those close shaves, among others, spark them to better finish on subsequent attacks.

But like Bourque and his Colorado colleagues, Iginla and the Bruins will have 60 more minutes to percolate more onslaughts.

The parallels are at a present peak leading up to Wednesday’s faceoff. They will only have the potential to continue thereafter if the Spoked-Bs stretch their season to at least an additional round.