In the waning minutes of Thursday night’s Game 4 between Columbus and Boston, a friend sent me the following text message:

“Blue Jackets are pesky.”

I replied with some long-winded analysis of how the Bruins were clearly the better team in this second-round NHL Stanley Cup playoff series, that Columbus had played as well as it could hope to, yet still managed to only have a handful of goals in regulation time through the first four games of the series. I went on and on about Boston’s depth, its ability to play a bunch of different ways, how consistent it had been all year, even through the rough patches.

My friend wrote back and summed the plight of the Blue Jackets succinctly, describing what I was saying without all the verbosity I’m often prone, too.

“That’s why we call them pesky. Good, but not good enough.”

Brevity, it seems, truly is the art of writing well.

Look, I’m as guilty as anyone of watching playoff games and riding the waves from coast to coast. A bad turnover or leaky penalty kill and you can’t believe your team even made the playoffs; a couple of good shifts on top of one another and you believe your team can win the whole damn thing.

But for Boston, there are really three things we’ve learned. You’re not going to like any of them, because they don’t fit the convenient narrative that Bruins fans have been conditioned to believe. Nonetheless, we can dispel the myths that have dogged this team throughout this current season and recent history alike.

Myth: “Tuukka Rask can’t win big games.”

Man, don’t Bruins fans love buying into this one like a degenerate gambler at the track trying to recoup hundreds of dollars in losses on the final throwaway claiming race of a meaningless Wednesday afternoon card.

The problem for Rask has never been his play. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2014 as the league’s best goaltender, yet somehow he was never allowed to dodge the shadow of Tim Thomas and his run to the 2011 Stanley Cup.

Something everyone seems to forget about Thomas during that Cup-winning campaign: He lost nine of his 25 starts that year, and three times a series went seven games, including in each of the first two rounds. His career playoff stats, in 51 games, show a 2.08 goals against average and a .921 save percentage.

Rask has started more games (74 through Thursday night) than Thomas did in postseason play, and faced roughly 800 more shots. Still, his .926 saver percentage is better than Thomas’ and his GAA of 2.23 is certainly comparable — even having played on worse playoff teams than Thomas did.

In his career, Rask has a .600 winning percentage in Game 7s, including one against Toronto last month in the first round that stood — until Thursday’s 39-save win against Columbus — as perhaps his finest postseason start.

Speaking of Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky, who has garnered nothing but praise for his incredible play against both Tampa and Boston this postseason, even that’s not all it’s cracked up to be despite the storylines.

The idea of Bobrovsky as infallible is funnier than open mic night at the Comedy Connection. I’m still trying to figure out how Columbus lost 31 regular-season games and barely held on for the final Wild Card playoff spot with a goalie who had a perfect 1.000 save percentage and 0.00 goals against average this season.

Myth: “Torey Krug is good.”

I’m going to avoid the obvious jokes about his size. I mean, who wants to pluck the low-hanging fruit? You came here for analysis, not snark.

I won’t mention all the foot-races to loose pucks he loses in his own zone despite being blessed with “blazing speed,” and I won’t focus on the fact that he somehow can’t muscle forwards carrying an extra 6 inches and 40 pounds on him in the corners. And I certainly won’t suggest that playing “defense” should be part of the job requirement of a “defenseman” in the NHL.

I’m also aware that him being a career minus-3 in the postseason is irrelevant, because plus/minus is an archaic statistic.

So,what’s left? The power play, naturally.

The argument for Krug in the Bruins’ lineup as a (gulp) top-four defenseman boils down to his (supposed) power play acumen. Which, when you look at it, is small potatoes.

The Bruins’ power play has been a sticking point for a few weeks now. After ranking third in the NHL in the regular season at 25.9 percent efficiency, the man advantage has been hit or miss in the postseason. It’s hardly rocket science, but when the Bruins score power-play goals, they find ways to win playoff games. When they don’t, well, they don’t.

Your best power play defenseman in Boston is the franchise’s future on the blue line. Charlie McAvoy has been tremendous in pivotal games for the Bruins. He has a power-play goal this postseason, same as Krug, despite undersized minutes until very recently. That’s no small feat.

Also, McAvoy is a plus-7 in these playoffs. That’s not a little number.

Myth: “The Bruins are a one-line team.”

Hahahaha. Haha. Hahahaha. Ha. Hahahahaha.

Sorry. I almost choked on my poutine.

This will come as a surprise to ardent NHL observers, but most teams in the league are built around a top line, elite goal-scorers and their best players getting the most ice time. (Startling, I know.)

When the trio of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak (who combined for 160 goals and 260 points in the regular season) isn’t scoring, it’s not as though the Bruins haven’t been able to account for the loss. Look, in the playoffs, it only makes sense that good teams are going to focus on that line and make every effort to close it down. In much the same way the Bruins turned John Tavares into a ghost of himself in the first round against Toronto, the Leafs and the Blue Jackets have both focused checking efforts on the Bruins top line.

All year long we heard that if the Bergeron line wasn’t going, Boston wasn’t winning. Period.

So we’ve gotten to the playoffs, where Charlie Coyle, Sean Kuraly, Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner and the like have walked through the door to provide crucial secondary scoring. If Bergeron’s group was scoring and no one else was, we’d be subjected to endless “where is the secondary scoring?” analysis. And we’d also be subjected to a team that probably didn’t have much of a shot to get out of the second round this week.

If there’s any hole in the counter-argument that the Bruins are more than a one-line team, it’s David Krejci.

He’s paid like a (near) top-line center in this league, yet his production hasn’t quite lived up to the $5.25 million salary. The best days are certainly behind the 33-year-old center, who was a perfect fit between Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton in 2011.

But if there was no Krejci in Boston, Coyle would be a fine fit as a second-line center with this team. In fact, you could argue — given the sheer number of key face-offs coach Bruce Cassidy has had Coyle on the ice for late in games — that Coyle already is that second-line center.

I hope that clears some of this up.


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