Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Musings: Subban, Price Have Habs Heading Home Tied

Greetings Habs Addicts,

After a one week hiatus where Monday Musings was replaced by my extensive Montreal-Boston series preview, it returns this week with the Habs and Bruins sitting tied at one-game apiece in their best of seven series. Montreal went into Boston and stole Game One on the strength of a 48-save gem from goaltender Carey Price, along with a two-goal performance from P.K Subban whose second goal was the double-overtime winner giving Montreal a 4-3 win. Game Two saw the Habs leading 3-1 with ten minutes to go in the third period before the Bruins stormed back with three goals in a five minute span to take the lead. They later tacked on an empty-net goal to ice the game 5-3. Montreal did earn an important split in Boston as the series heads north to Montreal for Game Three and Game Four, but the late-game collapse could have shifted the momentum over to the Bruins. Boston has absolutely dominated the play so far this series. Montreal has had issues with the size of the Bruins forwards, especially in the defensive zone.

- P.K. Subban had a fantastic Game One for Montreal. Subban scored two powerplay goals - carbon copies almost, as both times Matt Bartkowski was in the box and both times he took a feed from Andrei Markov before wiring a one-timer past Tuukka Rask. If you saw the first goal, you saw the second goal. Subban was also the target of racist tweets from a small number of Bruins' fans on Twitter. Subban handled the situation beautifully when he finally did address the issue a couple of days later:

Subban after scoring the overtime winner in Game 1.
Photo Credit:
It’s completely unfair for anybody to point the finger at the (Bruins) organization or the fan base. They have passionate fans here, great fan base and since I’ve been in the league it’s been awesome. I’ve come to Boston many times. My family has come here, and it’s been great,” - P.K Subban, addressing the tweets after the Habs 5-3 loss.
The Bruins also issues a statement on the issue. Bruins' president Cam Neely addressed the tweets when the story broke, after game one ended:
"The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday’s game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization." - Boston Bruins' President Cam Neely
There won't be much more added to this story here. There will always be people out there willing to express ignorant or racist views. In the age of social media, those views reach a far greater audience at a far faster pace. This story broke before the first period ended, although was never acknowledged on the air. P.K Subban handled the situation with great class, as did many fans of the Bruins and Habs who immediately denounced the comments and commenters on Twitter. Fans on both sides need not be reminded that P.K's younger brother, Malcolm Subban, is a former first round pick of the Bruins and currently a member of their farm-team in Providence. Its disappointing that racism still exists in this day and age. It's an issue that has been addressed and has progressed a long way but there will always be ignorant comments made by a select few attention seekers, especially on social media. As Cam Neely indicated, those views do not reflect the opinion of the vast majority of Bruins' fans nor the organization itself. P.K has addressed the situation and has moved on. So should we.

- The Canadiens were seriously outplayed in the first game. The Bruins came out flying and dominated the action, peppering Carey Price with 51 shots in the double-overtime thriller. Price stood on his head, with a little luck from his goalposts as well. The Canadiens stole a game they did not deserve to win. In game two, Price was just as stellar and the frustrations began to boil over. Until the late defensive collapse, Price had stymied the Boston shooters and were on the verge of taking a 2-0 series lead. The Bruins proved they are the best third-period team in hockey as they rallied to come back and steal the game out of the Habs clutches. In the series, 6 of the 7 Boston goals have all gone up and over Price. Aiming high seems to be the gameplan for the Bruins and Price will need to use his size more effectively to block the top part of the net for the rest of the series. Price is a talented goalie and coach Stephane Waite will allow him to make the adjustments he needs. The defenders have done a good job of blocking shots, but need to start playing more physical and clearing the front of the net to give Price a better view of the shots coming his way. Expect to see - much to the chagrin of almost everyone - the return of Douglas Murray to the lineup for game three. Hopefully at the expense of Francis Bouillon, who had two of the Bruins' goals deflect off him and into the net and has consistently been over matched physically by the larger Bruins' forwards.

- The top-line has been nearly non-existent in the playoffs this spring. Aside from the series-winning goal by Max Pacioretty against Tampa, the secondary scoring has been leading the Habs to victory. Thomas Vanek was called out by coach Michel Therrien prior to game two and admitted that he hasn't played well so far during the playoffs. Vanek responded with two powerplay goals, the second one giving Montreal a 3-1 lead before a defensive collapse allowed Boston to steal the game. David Desharnais has had a solid effort, despite often giving up 20-40 pounds on his opponent. Little Davey has not shied away from gigantic Zdeno Chara but has lost the battle more often than not when he has engaged him with the puck. Max Pacioretty needs to start skating hard into the corners and fighting for loose pucks. And most importantly, needs to start scoring. Knowing how Pacioretty is, once the first goal goes in, the rest often come in bunches.

- The Canadiens' best line so far in the playoffs has been the rejuvenated Rene Bourque, playing with an equally rejuvenated Lars Eller and the defensively-responsible Brian Gionta. Through six playoff games, Bourque has 4 goals and 5 points while Eller has 2 goals and 6 points. Gionta has added 1 goal and 4 points to the equation. Brendan Gallagher - a notoriously hated pest if you are a Bruin - has had an energetic playoffs so far, contributing 3 goals and 6 points so far. These players need to continue to produce at this clip, with the top line adding some scoring if Montreal has any hope of getting past this round of the playoffs. The renaissance of Rene Bourque has been nice. Hopefully it continues.

This week the Canadiens welcome the Bruins to the Bell Centre and the raucous Bell Centre crowd will be ready for them. Game Three is Tuesday night with Game Four scheduled for Thursday night. Game Five will be played Saturday night in Boston.  Montreal needs to win at least two of the next three games. All three would be fantastic. For that to happen, Montreal needs to start putting more pucks past Tuukka Rask.

Max Pacioretty: Your time is now.

Nick M. is a transplanted Montrealer, currently living in evil LeafLand. He is a contributor here at and give him a follow, as he can often be found rambling on Twitter.

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