The difference between a good team and a championship team is the magnitude of their mistakes and their ability to cover for them.
In Game 1 against the Canucks, it was a series of Bruins errors on the Raffi Torres(notes) game-winner. In Game 2, a bad clearing attempt by Andrew Ference(notes) led to one goal; Zdeno Chara's(notes) inability to slow Alex Burrows, and Tim Thomas's(notes) inability to cover for Chara, 11 seconds into overtime led to that game-winner.
The Stanley Cup Final has been close. One-goal-game close. Boston doesn't return home with a second thought about whether they can play with the Canucks.
But they do return home wondering about the errors that have them down 2-0 in the Final … and whether the Canucks are the reason they're making them.
Coach Claude Julien was asked after Game 2 about the close nature of the losses, and if they might affect the team's mental state going forward:
"Not really. We've been through a lot this year. We're resilient. I don't think that's what's going to drag us down.
"We've been able to bounce back before. We've gone through the experience of being down 2-0 against Montréal, probably even worse because we lost to them at home. So it's probably a better team here, absolutely a team that makes it to the final is a better team. It doesn't change the fact that we've been through it.
"We didn't come here just to roll over. We're definitely going to go back home and regroup and bounce back."
The games have been close, to the point where a few mistakes have decided them. But if there is one trend worth keeping an eye on for Games 3 and 4, it's the Canucks' speed and the Bruins inability to match it late in the games.
Perhaps the biggest telltale sign that the Bruins are getting encircled by the blazingly fast Canucks is the Bruins' noticeable fatigue in the third period of the first two games.
All season the Bruins have been aces in the final 20 minutes of games and shown the ability to finish strongly against the opposition. But Boston's defensemen and forwards are so worn down by the frenetic pace of the Canucks that they've been outscored 3-0 in the third period and overtime of the first two games of the series.
It's not just the scoreboard, though.
The Bruins were outshot 11-5 in the third period and dominated for the second straight game by Vancouver in the final 20 minutes of regulation. Rock-steady performers like Zdeno Chara and Andrew Ference are making mistakes at the ends of games, and nobody in Black and Gold has anything approaching a burst in the third period.
For the Bruins, there are obvious reasons for hope. They've already proven a 2-0 deficit isn't surmountable. Thomas follows average games with stellar ones. The last change at home could be a chance to put the clamps back down on the Sedin line, which powered the Canucks in Game 2. Hell, they even scored on the power play, legalizing marriage between dogs and cats.
But Haggerty's right: For all the talk about forgetting the first two games of this series, there's one lingering thought: The Canucks are forcing the Bruins into errors in the critical parts of the game, and Boston has yet to return the favor.