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Monday, November 21, 2011

Canadiens - Bruins: Boston Extends Streak to Nine with Shutout Win over Habs

It seems that, in recent years, every time the Habs and Bruins clash the spectators are served a real treat.

With so much bad blood between these teams, you truly never know what's going to happen. That being said, the 2011-2012 versions of these two team also know how to play hockey and play hockey they did tonight.

With the Habs at the 20-game mark for the season, they welcomed the red-hot Bruins to the Bell Centre. Despite Boston's eight-game winning-streak, Montreal is the team that came out on fire.

Not that the Bruins sat back or anything, it's just that Montreal used their speed to cause all kinds of problems for Boston's defense.

Unfortunately for the Habs, one defensive lapse gave Boston a late first period lead, despite being outshot 10-5 after the first.

The Habs kept pressing but the Bruins defense and Tim Thomas' brilliance kept the Habs off the board. That and the Canadiens inability to cash in on four key man-advantages did them in.

Final Score: Boston 1 - Montreal 0

Game Notes

What a hit! - A mere minute or so after I tweeted "I'm expecting big things from Emelin tonight. This is the type of opponent that Emelin has to show his physicality against," Alexei Emelin delivered.

With the play headed into the corner and David Krejci in hot pursuit, Emelin leaned into Krejci, slammed him hard into the boards.

I guess he read my tweet.

If that wasn't enough, Emelin and Zdeno Chara collided with the Bruins on the powerplay, with Chara taking the worst of it.

Then with about three minutes to play in the first, Emelin dropped the hammer on Daniel Paille at the blueline, shouldering him to the ice.

And all of that was just in the first period!

Emelin finished the night with five hits, one blocked shot and 17:21 of icetime. Moreover, with the exception of a terrible third period O-zone turnover, played his best game in a Habs uniform.

It seems like he slowly gaining confidence.

The Nifter - David Desharnais continues to impress in the offensive zone.

The perfect example was at around the nine-minute mark of the first, when he completely controlled the play in the Bruins' zone. Juking and diving behind the net, shaking off his cover, getting the puck to the point for a shot, picking it up again and doing another dance before finally dishing a seeing-eye, cross-crease pass to a pinching Erik Cole for a brilliant scoring chance.

Tim Thomas was equal to the task, stopping Cole, but that play put Desharnais' considerable vision on display.

Oh, Gomez - I'm getting a little tired of writing about the struggles of Scott Gomez, so I'll make this quick.

He played a solid game against the Rangers and looked decent against the Bruins, but where has his defensive sense gone? It seems that game after game, Gomez is missing assignments and the puck is ending up in the Canadiens' net.

Against Boston, it was more of the same with Gomez coasting on a back check and watching the puck instead of his man. The result was that Andrew Ference was allowed to skate to within 10 feet of Carey Price, unmolested, and fire the puck top-shelf for the lone goal of the game.

Weak, Gomez, weak.

All he had to do was take his man, the opposing defenseman, and this would have been a different game.

Head scratcher - Speaking of topics that are getting tired, I am struggling to understand why most in Montreal can see the shortcomings of the Habs powerplay, but the Canadiens coaches do not.

It took Montreal until near the end of the second period before getting their first powerplay. When they did, the Canadiens rolled out Yannick Weber, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Cammalleri, Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta on the first wave.

No Erik Cole or Lars Eller—Montreal's two best forwards over the first 40 minutes—and no Max Pacioretty.

How about a little size in front of the goaltender? Is it such a stretch to think that having a big, strong player planted in front of Tim Thomas on the PP, will increase your chances of scoring?

No? Is it me?

What a pick up - Erik Cole continues to show why he has quickly become one of the best players in the Habs lineup.

Night after night he is physically engaged, is constantly charging the net and, overall, causing problems for opposing defenders.

Against Boston, Cole was again the Habs best forward but, for some reason, he saw less even strength ice than Travis Moen—Cole had 14:04 to Moen's 14:24. Unless there was some kind of injury, that just makes no sense.

On the powerplay, it was the same thing with Cole getting 2:33 to Michael Cammalleri's 4:26, David Desharnais' 3:55 and Scott Gomez's 3:12.

What is the problem here?

Despite all of the coaching shenanigans Cole finished the night with six shots on net, one blocked shot, five hits and two takeaways.

I don't get it.

Stat of the night - 18 shots. That's how many the Bruins were able to get all game. You have to be impressed with the Canadiens' young defense core. They did a great job shutting down the aggressive Bruins attack and limiting their opportunities.

Question of the night - What will happen first: Sidney Crosby will get into the top-10 in league scoring or Scott Gomez will score a goal?

Up Next - The Habs have the day off before traveling to Raleigh for a Wednesday tilt against the Hurricanes. Carolina might be having a rough season but they are only two points back of Montreal.

In addition, they are sure to want revenge for their 4-0 shutout loss to the Habs last week.

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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 Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images North America)

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