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Friday, October 28, 2011

Canadiens - Bruins: Price Holds the Fort, Habs Drop Boston to Last in East

Don't look now, but your Montreal Canadiens are on a winning streak. Albeit a modest two-game streak, but it is a streak nonetheless.

And isn't it refreshing to have the streak be on the positive side instead of the negative?

After blowing out the Flyers on Wednesday in their first home win of the season, Montreal played an excellent road game to down the Bruins yesterday in Boston.

Neither team had been playing well and they were both tied with six points in the standings.

After the Canadiens win, Montreal moved from 14th to 12th overall in the East while the Bs dropped to last place.

Yes, that's right, the defending Stanley Cup champions are currently last place in the East and 29th overall in the league.

Stanley Cup hangover indeed!

Final score: Habs 2 - Bruins 1

Game Notes

Return of the Patch - The big storyline leading into this match was that Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara would be facing each other for the first time since "the incident". There was a lot of emotion leading up the puck drop but, at the end of the day, it turned out to be a non-event.

Both players went about playing hockey and finally (I think), put the incident behind them.

The Price is right - Carey Price was the man of the hour last night, stopping 29 of 30 shots to earn the win.

Moreover, if it wasn't for Plekanec's own-goal marker, Price would have had a shutout.

Montreal played a good game but still gave up too many scoring chances from prime locations. None was more evident than when Nathan Horton was left all alone to shoot on Price from five feet out. Price made the save, and many others, to keep the score low and allow the Habs to comeback and win.

You can tell the team in front of him wanted it badly too, blocking 21 shots for Price en route to the victory.

Owned - On their first shift of the game Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin absolutely dominated their Canadien counterparts.

On the ice for Montreal was Lars Eller, Andrei Kostitsyn and Travis Moen and they were completely overpowered by the Bruins aggressive forecheck. It was a thing of beauty to behold.

And man is Seguin ever good. And fast. Wow.

Dumped - Early in the first period with Erik Cole and Chris Kelly fighting for the puck in the Bruins zone, Cole hit and dumped Kelly on his posterior. It's the type of puck battle the Bruins tend to win far too often against Montreal and, last night, it was nice to see the shoe on the other foot.

Oh, that one hurts - Boston got on the board when Tomas Plekanec won a defensive zone faceoff, shuffling the puck straight at Price. Price didn't look completely set on the play and, as a result, whiffed on it, leading to a 1-0 Boston lead.

Ugly.

That was Plekanec's first goal of the night. The other, thankfully for Montreal, went into the Bruins net and ended up being the game winner.

Now that's a battle! - Milan Lucic and P.K. Subban fighting for the puck in the Habs zone during the second period. Wow, that was awesome!

Subban is one of the few Canadiens who has the strength to actually fight and win a puck battle with Lucic. It was a bit of stalemate, but it was something to see them go shoulder to shoulder and bounce off of each other with no clear winner.

Change up - The Canadiens had a 5-on-3 powerplay early in the second but failed to convert. Strangely, on the first wave of the PP was Michael Cammalleri, Yannick Weber, Brian Gionta, Eric Cole and Tomas Plekanec.

Really? 5-on-3 and that's who you put out there?

It's not that those are bad players or anything, but how about Subban, Cammalleri, Pacioretty, Cole and Plekanec? You figure you want to make sure to capitalize on the 5-on-3 and, at least in my mind, having your two power-forwards swarming the net would help in that department.

No? Is it me?

Be very, very quiet - Did anyone see David Desharnais last night?

The player who has been one of the few revelations of the first few weeks of the season, was a complete non-factor last night. It looked like he wasn't able to handle the big, physical Bruins.

The only time I really noticed him was when he was surrendering the puck in favour of not getting plastered by a Bruins player.

Unfortunate, but to be expected considering his 5'6 frame. Despite him being relatively invisible, he still managed to finish the night with an assist and a plus-1 rating.

Save of the night - With the Bruins on a late second period powerplay, Price went behind the net to play a dump in. Instead of being able to corral the puck, it bounced off of his stick and out front, giving the Bruins player an empty net to shoot at.

With Price scrambling to get back in the net, Raphael Diaz slide across just in time to block the shot. That kept the game tied at one and, ultimately, allowed the Habs to grab the victory.

Fight of the night - Well the only fight actually, was when P.K. Subban and Brad Marchand threw down near the end of the second. They had previous tried to fight two other times before the refs finally let them go.

While I originally thought Subban would get the better of Marchand due to his size and strength advantage, I was totally wrong.

I wouldn't call it a clear victory either way as both players got shots in, but it became clear to me that Subban just has no idea how to fight.

It's probably better that way, since the Habs can have him breaking a hand or something!

If you didn't see it, here it is in all it's sad, sad glory:


That was a bit sad now wasn't it? Especially that see-it-coming-a-mile-away haymaker. It kind of reminds me of his wind up for a slapshot.

Shorten your swing my friend!

Oh, and do you think Marchand was trying to exact revenge for Subban's clean but devastating hit on him from last season?

No pushback - Ok, ok, Subban and Marchand fighting was pretty harmless, except for the risk of a broken hand.

But then, in the third period, every Bruins player—with enforcer Shawn Thornton at the front of the line—decided to take runs at Subban. Thornton, in particular, must have got Subban two or three times with borderline hits on one shift.

The problem is that Subban, as one of the undisputed stars of the team, should not have to deal with that garbage. He should be able to focus on playing hockey and helping the Habs win. Unfortunately there is no one on the Canadiens squad who could or would step up in Subban's defense.

I still maintain that, while I'm not a fan of having a goon on the team, having someone who can "take care of business", when needed, is an absolute must.

Love him or hate him, Georges Laraque kept the opposition honest. You wouldn't have seen any of that with him in the lineup.

Question of the day - Did the Habs just save their season? A two-game winning streak does not necessarily mean that all the Habs troubles are behind them.

But it could.

Especially if that two game streak turns into three with another win over the Bruins on Saturday.

They say that every team has to go through their bit of adversity during the season in order to put together a solid year.

Has Montreal, less than 10 games in, already dealt with and overcome theirs?

Up next - The Canadiens return home for the second of a home-and-away against the Bruins tomorrow night at the Bell Centre.

The two teams renewed their rivalry last night in what seemed a lot like a playoff game. Considering that the plot seems to thicken each time these teams play each other, Saturday night's game should be a doozey!

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Kamal is a freelance writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com and Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on TSN Radio 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 9 - 10 AM. Listen live at http://www.tsn.ca/montreal/

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(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images North America)

4 comments:

The girl who might have saved their season. A young reporter Jessica Rusnak asked the question about why Cole was not used on the PP and she got a cold reponse. It was not so much her question but the condescending way Martin responded with a chuckle and then a stupid answer about Cole scoring only 3 PP goals last season. It started a fire-storm in the media and other Internet postings. Well, Martin was forced (might have someone from above if not public pressure) and Cole was put into situation where he could succeed ever since that particular incident.

@anonymous: Hah, too true! That Rusnak comment really started a poop-storm in this city.

We don't entirely know what went on behind the scenes and why Pearn was fire. But you have to think that all of it came to a head.

There was a players meeting held this week before the Habs win against the Flyers. Who knows what was discussed and whether the team leadership went to the GM with gripes about the coaching staff.

Either way, Cole getting more icetime was long overdue and now the Canadiens are starting to reap the rewards.

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