BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins' locker room hadn't been this quiet in a long time.
There was no music blaring. No one was laughing, smiling or joking around. Many of the players were in the weight room working out. The energy and intensity the Bruins showed during their recent 5-0-1 streak in the previous six games disappeared, and the Montreal Canadiens took advantage of it and finished with a 4-1 win over Boston on Thursday night at TD Garden.
"I would say, from what I remember, it was our worst game of the year," said Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "You can't have success if you're playing like that."
Bruins coach Claude Julien was disgusted after the game. He said the lack of skating, lack of good decision-making and lack of execution were the three reasons why Boston lost. The coach should've added lack of emotion to that list.
"We can analyze this thing to death, and you hear me say that often, when you don't play your game, you can't win -- no matter what," Julien said. "If you guys want to give [Montreal] credit, that's your job, but my job is to worry about my team and my team tonight was not very good in those three areas. So, we don't have to look any further than those three elements because those were the reasons we weren't able to win."
As far as his decision to pull goaltender Tuukka Rask after Montreal took a 3-1 lead at 11:54 of the second period, Julien said he felt he did not need to explain why he made the change.
"I don't think I have to explain myself, why I pulled the goalie," Julien said. "This isn't going to be one of those things where we're going to make a big story out of a pulled goalie. Our team was poor tonight, so maybe sometimes you pull the goalie for different reasons. I don't think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons because there's a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside the dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share."
It was the fourth time this season Rask has been pulled, but it wasn't really his fault Thursday. If Julien was hoping to spark his team with the goalie change, the Bruins did not respond.
"Not really Bruins hockey today and it's disappointing when you're down by a couple of goals, and then three goals and nothing happens," Rask said. "We just have to regroup and realize what happened and be better next time."
This effort, or lack thereof, was uncharacteristic of the Bruins. There was no pushback. Numerous players admitted after the game they were all waiting for someone to do something, but it never happened. At one point early in the first period, Bergeron took two punches to the face after the whistle and there was no response.
Montreal won the majority of the battles, and Boston had zero determination, zero fight for 60 minutes. With the exception of Bruins forward Jarome Iginla, who attempted to get Montreal defenseman Alexei Emelin to drop the gloves, no one else took on the responsibility of stepping up.
"That was the biggest issue for us tonight, waiting for someone to have some kind of response," said Bruins forward Milan Lucic. "We have to all take that as individuals to realize the situation and step up our game. There are guys in this room who have done that in the past and we have that ability, but there was no sign of that today."
Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who was credited with Boston's lone goal, said that the team seemed bored of winning since it played as poorly as it did against Montreal. He added that Julien's postgame message was clear.
"I think it's a wake-up call for everyone," Hamilton said. "Just our attitude needs to be better in games like that, especially trailing early and just nobody was willing to step up and try to get everyone going."
It's not too often you hear the home crowd booing, but that's exactly what happened in the closing seconds of the game as the Canadiens celebrated another victory over the Bruins.
During a recent episode of Montreal's all-access series "24CH," coach Michel Therrien's pregame speech prior to Montreal's 2-1 win over the Bruins on Dec. 2 at Bell Centre in Montreal was short and sweet. He asked his team: "Boston, what are you thinking?"
The Canadiens' P.K. Subban responded: "They're fun to beat."
Therrien added: "It's a fun game to play. Like P.K. said, they're fun to beat. Let's make sure we're a tight group against those guys. It's us against them. Let's make sure we're on the good side -- come on."
His speech must have been pretty much the same prior to Thursday's game.
"It doesn't take much," said Montreal captain Brian Gionta. "It's obviously a rivalry game, a division game, and points mean a lot. It shouldn't take much to get up for. It pretty much speaks for itself, the energy these games normally produce."
Julien became agitated and did not want to dissect his team's play with the media after the game. Instead of playing with passion and purpose, Julien kept focusing on the lack of three aspects -- skating, decision-making and execution. Again, add lack of emotion and pushback to that list.
"Tonight was one of those nights that there was absolutely nothing happening on our side," Julien said.