Next up, defending. This was really Boston's strength. Though Montreal were pretty good in their own way throughout the season too. There really wasn't an addition the like of Thomas Vanek to sway things in this. The Habs have been slightly worse defensively with Vanek, but his time coincided in the regular season with key events like Price's injury and Gorge's injury, so I didn't want to lay it all on him.
Once again the key takeaway from this chart is that Boston did a fine job in the regular season. Second best in the Jennings race only to Los Angeles, they were clearly the team that gave up the least defensively to make up attacks and win games. That is evidenced by their league title and their impressive goal differential.
As I said in the post on scoring, I think defence has been the basis of Bruins success all season. look only to first period goals and first goals allowed to know that this team gave itself time to establish leads and win games.
Montreal were a good defensive outfit too. But you get the feeling it came at the cost of some offense some of the time. As I mentioned, the offensive improvements seen in the Vanek area were offset at least a little bit by defensive lapses.
Boston is truly the class of this match-up, and a recent playoff tour de force (6 goals allowed) only backs that up.
What Montreal and its fans must take to heart is the fact that some players seem to have benefited greatly from the shelter of their big captain. The fact that Kevan Miller, Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton all show up as team leaders in GA (even if my cut-off points are flawed) shows that these players exploited some good old easy match-ups whenever they could. There is almost no way that three rookies (two of them offensively-leaning) could post the stats otherwise. This should hearten Montreal because they will not offer those players any such hiding place. If they play, they must at the very least face Eller and Gionta or Plekanec and Gallagher. It could be a new challenge after a season of Buffalo and Florida's lower lights.
The same is of course true on the flip-side of things, but at least in Montreal this was never going to be a surprise to anyone.