Picked out your spot on the parade route?
But seriously, folks, what we’ll be hearing all day about your Montreal Canadiens is what they players were saying last night:
It’s one game.
Darn near a perfect road game.
Negation of Boston’s home-ice advantage in the series.
But one game.
The next game – and every one thereafter – will be tougher.
So let’s keep irrational exuberance in check.
But man, that felt good.
The Big Bad Bruins, eh?
Zdeno Chara for the Norris?
Tim Thomas for the Vézina?
“Ha!” I say. Let’s say it together: “Ha! Ha! Ha!”
Didn’t that feel good?
Do you suppose Max Pacioretty enjoyed watching the game?
And the fans at TD Banknorth Gahden were not happy campers. Through three inept Boston power plays and a third period during which the home team was effectively stymied, the faithful grew increasingly restive.
The Bruins had an 18-shot second period. They won 36 of the game’s 61 faceoffs.
But the speed of the Canadiens – Tomas Plekanec in particular – exposed the Boston defence as slow. They were not particularly good with the puck, and with the exception of Chara’s blasts from the point, they didn’t do much to support the forwards.
Ah, the Boston forwards. This was where the Bruins were supposed to have a decisive edge.
And they still might. But not on an opening night when the best of them was a 5’9″ agitator.
Brad Marchand was by far the most dangerous Bruin up front. And you know that will change in Game 2.
Whomever is assigned to referee the game will have a busy night. In his postgame remarks, Claude Julien correctly pinpointed his team’s failure to go to the net and create traffic in front of Carey Price.
Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton were non-factors. They combined for four hits – three fewer than Ryan White had on his own – and FIVE giveaways, including the Lucic gaffe that led to Brian Gionta’s insurance goal.
Mark Recchi played like the old man he is. The thumpers, Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell, didn’t scare anyone.
The Boston forwards will be more menacing in Game 2. Or at least they’ll try to be.
But Game 1 looked an awful lot like what the Canadiens did to Washington and Pittsburgh a year ago. And while Carey Price didn’t need 55 Halakian saves for his shutout, he was steady as a rock and got solid support from his teammates, who kept shots from the outside and thugs away from the crease. That photo of Roman Hamrlik keeping Chris Kelly away from Price illustrates what the Canadiens D and forwards were able to do for most of the game.
The early lead, fashioned by the old New Jersey teammates, was key. It took the crowd out of the game, rattled the Bruins’ confidence and allowed the Canadiens to settle down and work the system. Boston pushed back in the second period, but Price was a wall. Then the Canadiens dominated the third, holding the home team to five shots.
Simply put, no one wearing a white jersey played a bad game. Credit Jacques Martin for having his guys ready to play the kind of disciplined hockey – the last of three minor penalties came 6:35 into the second period – you need to have a chance at winning on the road in the playoffs.
Claude Julien, who will be fired if Boston doesn’t go to the Eastern Conference final, has some work to do on this off-day.
The Bruins have lost five straight playoff games, going back to that meltdown against the Flyers.
It has to be messing with their heads.
But again, keep repeating the mantra:
At least until Saturday night.