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Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery, top, has helped this year's team reach a level we haven't seen before. All that's left is cementing their status as the best NHL team with another Stanley Cup.The Associated Press

The other night the Canadiens were in Boston to play the Bruins. These days, that’s an automatic loss.

Knowing there wasn’t much hope, Montreal coach Martin St. Louis skipped past the pregame pep talk and tried bald-facing lying to his own team.

“We’re not scared of [Boston] and we’ve shown that,” St. Louis said.

Well said. The Canadiens lost anyway.

If you aren’t scared of the Bruins, that doesn’t make you brave. It makes you foolish. You’re not going to outmuscle these guys, out-think them, outhustle them … put the word ‘out’ in front of any positive performance-based noun. You’re not going to do that. Game-plan accordingly.

Over the span of a single season, are the Bruins the best NHL team in history? No. That can’t be determined until they have won a Stanley Cup in style. Anything less disqualifies them.

But they’re headed in the right direction – a +116 goal differential; on pace for 64 wins; fastest team in history to 100 points. The Bruins are the team Richie Rich owners envision when they’re writing cheques for new arenas. A team that can become your legacy.

But the regular season is just that – regular. If the regular season mattered, Toronto would be a more relaxed place to live.

For now, the question for every other team in the NHL is ‘How do we beat these guys?’

I don’t know. How about swinging paint cans on ropes? That worked in Home Alone.

If it’s hockey you’re talking about, I’ve got nothing for you. These guys don’t just do it better than you, they want it more than you do. Patrice Bergeron wants it more than your entire team put together. Unlike your guys, he also knows how to get it.

If all goes to plan (/cue laugh track), the Leafs will be dealing with this insoluble problem some time in late April. Since there is nothing specific about the Leafs that suggests they are getting by Tampa, even to speak of this is a jinx. But were these Leafs to beat these Bruins, one assumes all would be forgiven.

You cost the city 50 years of disappointment and a bad case of middle-child syndrome? Water under the world’s longest bridge, my friends. Everyone’s already forgotten about it. What’s 50 years compared to one perfect week in May that no one could afford to see in person?

(Of course, the really Toronto thing would be beating the Bruins and then getting swept by the Islanders.)

Assuming nothing about who plays who else whenever, let’s skip past to the next question everyone should be asking themselves about the Bruins – ‘How do we become these guys?’

No one is better suited for this sort of sweaty introspection than the Leafs. They’re always in some stage of tortured self-examination, not that anything ever comes of it. The answer is always, ‘Let’s keep headed in the same direction.’

For a bunch of years, that made sense. You’ve finally got the players. Just don’t get in their way. Don’t confuse them with a bunch of change for change’s sake. Let them get comfortable, and then let them do their thing. They’ll get it right eventually.

Whenever someone comes up with a different idea, they are shouted down. ‘Oh, you think the coach is going to play in net? Is the GM supposed to go into the corners?’

Boston suggests that approach is a mistake.

Last year, the Bruins were the Leafs. They had a decent regular season, and then lost a tough one in the first round.

This year, the Bruins roster is largely unchanged. Same stars, same core, same goalies. But so far, a completely different result. All that has changed is the coach.

Nothing about Jim Montgomery’s CV up until he took over the Bruins suggests he is some sort of Mozart-level hockey genius. He didn’t make it behind an NHL bench until five years ago. He didn’t last two years as the head coach in Dallas.

He didn’t segue to another head-coaching gig. Instead, he became an assistant with the St. Louis Blues. After Boston fired Bruce Cassidy, Montgomery was chosen.

And yet.

Under Montgomery, the Bruins are a team transformed. We can’t say they’re an entirely new team until we see how the postseason shakes out, but all signs point to yes.

Bruce Cassidy is a good coach. He’s made a Stanley Cup final. He’s got Vegas playing at a high level. It is no knock on Cassidy to say that Montgomery has done things with the Bruins that Cassidy could not.

A lot of ink has been spilled trying to explain what Montgomery is doing different. A lot of it sounds like hockey woo woo. They shoot more. They use their speed. They’re playing with confidence. This is all another way of saying, ‘I’m not sure.’

Maybe Montgomery has a shockingly deep understanding of man management, game tactics and motivational nous. And maybe no one else in hockey noticed that he had it until he was in his late-40s.

Maybe it’s a fresh perspective and a few tweaks. Maybe Montgomery hangs out in his office all day playing solitaire and lets the players sort out the coaching. It doesn’t matter. What matters is results. Montgomery is providing them.

That all started from a change that didn’t have to be made, but was made nonetheless. The Bruins had just lost an opening-round series for the first time in a few years. In some sports towns, losing has consequences.

The Leafs still have a lot of runway left. Based on how they look right now, they have the advantage of momentum. Given the hysterical way this town swings between ecstasy and agonizing, an opening-round victory will wash the club clean of all its sins.

But if things don’t work out this time, Toronto can no longer claim that slow-and-steady is the obvious way to go. It has just got a year-long, up-close demonstration of why it isn’t.