Photo by Allen McInnis of The Gazette
In the immortal words of Lawrence Peter Berra, it ain’t over till it’s over.
I’m one of the people Arpon Basu writes about, fans/pundits/schmucks on the street who thought the winner of Game Four would win the series.
And Boston has home ice and all the momentum in what has become a best-of-three playoff.
But as my friend Arpon points out, the Canadiens aren’t dead. And they won’t be until they’re shaking the hands of the team that eliminates them, be it the Bruins or someone farther down the road.
For 30 minutes last night, the home team ran the visitors out of the rink. The Bell Centre was rocking as only the league’s most raucous barn can, and a 3-1 lead should have been game over.
It wasn’t because:
• Tim Thomas was better than Carey Price. And look, before I start a fore storm among the Commentariat, let’s stipulate the Canadiens would have been playing golf for two weeks if it weren’t for their goaltender. But Thomas has been sharper in this series. Goals scored high to Price’s glove side bring up very unhappy memories.
• The Scott Gomez-Brian Gionta-Travis Moen line was on for all four Boston goals. They couldn’t cope with the Patrice Bergeron line; and after Jacques Martin changed things up, Gomez et al couldn’t contain Rich Peverley, Chris Kelly and Michael Ryder.
Michael Ryder, for gosh sakes! That’s just embarrassing.
• Jaro Spacek and Brent Sopel are old and slow.
• Two good lines – centred by Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais, who played his best game of the series – were trumped by three efficient Boston trios.
• One goal was not enough for a first period that was maybe the most dominant 20 minutes the Canadiens have played this year.
• Lars Eller, who was excellent in the first period, got murdered in the faceoff circle, took the Canadiens’ only penalty and ended up playing 9:27.
• P.K. Subban scored a spectacular power-play goal but was not himself, playing like a jittery rookie as Boston surged. P.K. also flubbed the D change that led to the winning goal.
• How the heck does a defensive team give up a 3-on-1 rush in OT in the Stanley Cup playoffs? Three little words: Get it deep. The Canadiens’ failure to pound the puck into the Boston zone – combined with the long change necessary in defending the far goal – led to the aforementioned overtime catastrophe.
And so, on to Boston, where the first period will be very interesting on Saturday night.
The Bruins have the wind in their sails. The crowd at the TD Banknorth Garden will be in a frenzy.
But that was the case in Game One. And Game Two.
The Canadiens are 2-0 on the road in this series. And Boston has not dominated in either building.
The Bruins have evened this series because they’ve played smart, disciplined and, above all, opportunistic hockey.
Throughout this series, I’ve wondered what would happen if both teams brought their A-games. That occurred in Game Four, but excellence was sequential, rather than simultaneous.
The Canadiens won the first half of the game. Boston was better down the stretch … when it counted.
One aspect of the game troubled me last night and concerns me going to Boston:
For all that Canadiens’ early dominance in terms of shots on goal and puck possession, the Bruins didn’t take their first penalty until the third period.
Through all the time the Canadiens spent buzzing Thomas, Boston didn’t hold, trip or interfere with any Canadiens – at least not flagrantly enough to be called.
Either the Bruins are ultra-disciplined or the Canadiens are too small to bother fouling.
I suspect the latter … and that’s troubling.
Best of three starts tomorrow.
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Comment from Shakey (complete with e.e. cummings non-capitalization):
brutal, brutal, brutal loss. reminded of the team canada juniors collapse – seemed like the habs were skating in sand for the last half of the game.
and what a terrible way to end – pk makes a rush and a high risk pass, has to hustle back and is therefore too tired and makes an awful change to cost us the game.
painful. this team has character, but the shortcomings that were so well covered up in boston have been painfully exposed – inconsistency, an aging defence decimated by injuries and patched together with journeymen, and a lineup that is just a little too thin to play anything less than a perfect game and come away with a victory. even price has made mistakes that have been costly, although neither of these losses are on him.
DD was an incredible bright spot though, playing a whale of a game. and mostly the kids seem alright – pk has to play within himself, and he was just trying to do too much all game long – spinoramas at the offensive blueline, lazy one hand push passes at our blueline. when he’s contained, he is awesome. with more time and experience, he will dominate. but that still doesn’t make this easier to take.
in a best of three, i still like our chances though. i was just so hopeful that with an early series ending quickly, we might have a chance at a deep run. now it seems this will likely go to seven games, and we will once again burn out if we go any deeper. argh! nothing but frustrating to watch this one.