About last night …

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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:

One game.

At least until Saturday night.

35 Comments

  1. Marc10 says:

    Boston reminds me of Washington last year. They are the overwhelming favorites but cannot cope with any form of adversity. Big Zee is like Prince Ovi, a guy who’s had his way for so long, he cannot adjust to a change in scenario. Horton is like Semin, as talented as they come, but can’t elevate his play at the right time. And Timmy Thomas is like Theo…
    A small guy who relies on his speed and skill, but who clearly cannot handle the pressure that comes with playing against Montreal and it’s rabid fan base.

    Washington might be a different team this year, but the B’s seem every bit the chokers that got knocked out by Philly.

    Here’s hoping the Habs play another disciplined road game tomorrow and drive another nail in Boston’s coffin.

  2. shrack says:

    No wonder Bruins didn’t crash the net, who is going to get back in time to stop the Canadiens rush?

  3. Wayne says:

    Well hello there! I’m running firefox and for some reason, I couldn’t login for the last couple of days. I thought I was banned. Writing this is easing my paranoia… should cut a half hour off my therapy session Tuesday. Anyway… I’m blown away by this win (last night). Thought we’d get smoked Game 1. Dudes showed up, Gomer had a relapse and played like it was 1999. Fun to watch even though I worked till 10pm and had to wait for the OT KINGS/SJ game to finish to see the magic unfold.

    Saw tons I liked, concern for other sequences when we got lucky but chock it up to B’s nerves. Just hope we have more finesse with the alchemy from JM for game two.

    Cheers Habs brethren… continue believing.

    Cheers also to Mike Boone and Dave Stubbs for making this site the harbour for us neurotics!

  4. Yeats says:

    Across the board, it’s just nice to finally see some hockey that matters. Hell, even the officiating has improved markedly from the crap I witnessed during the regular season. As I’ve said before, the regular season is just a damned high-paid house league designed to eliminate 13 hockey teams and the Leafs. Gomez plays like he did last night and ultimately helps his mates get their names pressed on the hardware and no one will give a rat’s ass damn what he did in the regular season, at least until next October!

  5. RetroMikey says:

    One game we should not get too overly excited and plan the parade, it was Carey Price 2 Boston 0.
    Great win on the road but can we really stop the powerful Bruins?
    I don’t think so, it will be Bruins in 5 or 6.
    It’s going to be a gruelling playoff series for our Habs.

    “We will win the Cup one day only with ? in the nets “

    • t1tan5 says:

      I didn’t know Carey Price could score.

    • Thenumber11 says:

      Must be fun having no faith in the team you’re supposedly a fan of.
      I’m not saying the bruins are beaten, the series is decided: but we won.
      “can we really stop the powerful Bruins?” Yes, yes we can.

      Optimism; it’ll do you some good.

    • HardHabits says:

      It’s going to be a gruelling playoff series for our Habs.

      Are you sure RM? Talk about understatement. You don’t think maybe you should be watching curling instead?

      I thought you’d be much happier after the ‘Dogs won their 1st play-off game 5-2.

    • punkster says:

      Hey, they gotta win 4. You, me, the fans and the players all know that. I saw no parade signs on St. Catherines this morning, no burning vehicles, no grandstand stage being constructed anywhere in the city. What I hear and feel though is some pretyy pleased fans and some very astute comments from people I respect.

      Guess you didn’t watch the game and only caught the CBC, TSN or Sportsnet post-game commentary. Price performed well, sure, but so did the D, the forwards and the coaching staff. Was it all Price? If you listen to the sports talking heads most say yes. If you watched the game and listen to some of the more astute commentators you’ll hear the real story.

      ***Subbang Baby!!!***

  6. Propwash says:

    It was just one game, and there are lots more, but if the Habs keep playing smart hockey, they’ll dispose of the Broonz.

    3 more wins!

  7. krob1000 says:

    The highlight off the night without a doubt was Gomez stealing the puck from Lucic on the insurance goal….not because it was Lucy (btut hat helps), not because we scored (that helps), not because it put the game at ease (that helps)…BUT…because Gomez who for most of the season has played soft went directly into the path of Lucic who was gathering speed…he didn’t swipe at the puck…he met him head on and I think it caught Lucic off guard. He is used to smaller guys just getting out of the way in those situations …especially a guy like Gomez. Gomez having the balls to do that was bigger than the result to me….a huuuuge positive for Gomez to build on.

    My second favourite play of the night was one that probably went unnoticed by most…because it never really happened…but that was the beauty of it. Andrei Kostitsyn had been banging bodies since he returned. He is easily our strongest hitter in my opinion and maybe the only Hab capable of hitting Chara clean and inflicting some damage..even then the circumstances would have to be ideal…well last night they were. Chara was carrying the puck from the red line through to our blue line on the far side (on tv)….Andrei had a head of steam and was on a direct collision course…..Chara had nearly destroyed his ability to walk two periods earlier…and Andrei had him in his sights…Chara bailed….he actually bailed completely, dumped the puck and blatantly turned to avoid even the possibility of that collision…I have NEVER seen Chara do that in a situation where he could have taken the hit to make a better play….it made my night.

    Count me in as one who thought Mara would get the nod…count em in as one who is glad Sopel was in there playing sacrificial pawn to king Carey.

    I also liked what I saw out of the kids…Desharnais, Pouliot, White and Eller all palyed hard…they spent some serious time in our end but they did not run around lost and played with some poise given the circumstances.

    PK and Wiz were both as expected wearing bullseyes but managed to evade danger with simplicity being their biggest ally. The Habs cautiously just dumped the puck whenever the slightest hint of danger arrived, it meant no mistakes but a serious ass whooping in puck possession….but the key to succeeding under the circumstances was to be perfect when defending attack after attack and we did that……

    Sure was fun

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      When was that Chara bail? Have the game recorded and would like to see it.

      I’d like to add another non-event: Marchand blowing an empty net (!st period). That drew a gleeful barrage of rude words from this viewer!

      Cheers

      • krob1000 says:

        I believe in the third….he carries the puck across the red line on the far side of the ice (on the tv broadcast)…..Andrie is coming hard towards him and Chara, who normally stands and welcomes all comers in a taunting fashion hurries a dump and retreats…never see that from him. It wasn’t until this morning that I even realized that Andrei pasted Chara earlier in the game..I had missed that and found out only in responses to my posts this morning. Watch the third…it wasn’t like it was in his own end or anything but still very, very uncharacteristic of Zee. It didn;t even lead to anythig…just me smiling wondering if Chara was actually afriad of being hit….now knowing Andrei pasted him early….it must have been…I actually mssed the first period for kids football practice so it had to be the last two periods but Andrei was out for a large part of the game so I am sure it had to be in the third.

  8. DearyLeary says:

    Anyone second guessing Sopel instead of Mara?

    • Mike Boone says:

      I was wrong … again … on that.

      Mike Boone
      Hockey Inside/Out blogger
      Gazette City columnist
      mboone@montrealgazette.com

    • habitual says:

      Fair comment, Sopel was solid!

      You don’t usually change a winning line up but I wonder if Mara will be the better choice for game 2 when we know it will be more physical.

    • JasonM says:

      Never in doubt. Sopel didn’t win the Stanley cup last year without reason.

      He’s a shot blocking machine, he’s well appreciated by Price and he keeps the Bruins on the outside. He’s not the fastest skater but his experience and skills are very much appreciated.

      I’d still love Mara in the line-up but our bottom, 6 played like they wanted to be there.

    • Thenumber11 says:

      I wanted Mara in for sure… but Sopel played his game to perfection last night. I thought Spacek had the weakest game out of our Dmen and he was fine for the most part.

      I’ve really liked Mara this go around though and I have confidence if we need him in one night for whatever reason, he’ll be fine. Despite boston not playing a crushing game, they were still physical and I do not care to see weber out there over mara, even though weber has displayed some nice poise in the face of bigger, physical opponents.

  9. PrimeTime says:

    Price is getting a lot of credit for the team’s win but it really was a good “team” road victory. Boston’s biggest offensive weapon was Chara’s shot from the point. They will surely keep that strategy but will put bodies in front of Price to make the count. Habs will need to limit those shots either by pressuring him and the unenvious job of blocking them. Pleks did a great job on Krechji (sp?) which effectively shutdown the unskilled duo of the Meatheat duo of Horton and Lucy. I was amazed that coach Julie with last change was not able to get away from that match up. I’m not sure who was against Bergeron but he too was a non-factor. I thought Bergeron was going to be the X-Factor and he still may be before this is done. If Habs can continue to play smarter hockey they have a decent chance to once again send the B’s back to the drawing board and teach their fans that meathead hockey is inferior to smart hockey. Biotches!

  10. JF says:

    One game, but it was important to win this one, both to make the Bruins start doubting and to erase the impression left by the last two games we played in Boston. I think we accomplished both those things, and it was largely because of the last two Boston games that most of the pundits gave the Bruins such an overwhelming edge. If they get behind on Saturday, there could be panic on the ice and behind the bench.

  11. Shiloh says:

    It was a great game. Virtually every player came through. Price, Gionta, Plekanec and Gomez were the stars – but you had to like Sopel blocking shots, AK46 blocking shots and hitting, and Darche giving every ounce on every shift.

    • Dunboyne Mike says:

      Please add Moen to that assessment. He was all over the ice, an annoying presence in the Boston zone when they were trying to set up and get the puck out, good in the neutral, and tough and tireless.
      Cheers

  12. HalifaxHabs says:

    oh my god last night was great… Carey Price is amazing.

    Chara and Lucic were non-factors to put it nicely.

    I wonder if we can break their backs Saturday night…

  13. RGM says:

    Boone’s video at the end of the live-game blog still has me chuckling this morning. All that hype and fury for Boston…haaaaa. It’s just one game in what could be a long series, but it’s one that we’re all going to enjoy until the puck drops on Saturday night.

    Carey Price is All Hart! http://on.fb.me/CP31Hart
    Go Habs Go!
    Support my playoff beard: http://www.beardathon.ca/english/RGM81/profile.aspx

  14. observer says:

    “But man, that felt good.”

    Double entendre!

  15. smiler2729 says:

    Carey Price blowing away the Halakians, a winning season and “the change” in name and format have really quieted this place this year…

    It’s playoff time and all is forgiven (my disdain for AK46 is muted), let’s get together and have a run to shut some of the national hockey media up too.

    As for this round, Boston’s dirty ways all season have been noted by the hockey gods and they have been angered so the Bruins shall be eliminated.

    “My second favourite team is whoever plays the Leafs”

    • NoTinFoilCups says:

      The Gomez bashers have been told all year to wait for the playoffs. What is really surprising is the play of AK46 and to a certain extent Plekanec. The boys have their heads in the game. Let’s hope Poulio can follow the example.

  16. Bash says:

    One game yes…but we have planted some seeds. Confidence has poked its head through the Montreal soil; doubt is blooming in Boston.

    “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” (anon)

  17. CanadienBoy says:

    Like to see Plak.. cashing in on those brake a way chances


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