Aren’t you just counting the hours until 7:10 on Saturday evening?
The Bell Centre is going to be CRAZY!
Think there will be a few boos for Brad Marchand? (Photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters)
Six months to the day after they lost an overtime heartbreaker to end their season, the resurgent Canadiens played heroically in Boston.
And the team served notice they are back in the thick of a topsy-turvy Eastern Conference race that has the Stanley Cup champions in 14th place.
Despite the best efforts of Marchand, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton, the Canadiens did not let the home team goon them out of the TC Garden.
And once again, they got a superlative performance from their All-World goaltender.
Carey Price had help. Raphael Diaz saved a goal, and the defence blocked 21 shots (more about that later). But Price made huge saves – the Rich Peverley breakaway, the Nathan Horton shot from the deep slot – and no one in a black jersey managed to get a puck past him.
The Bruins will be credited with the first power-play goal scored on the road against the Canadiens this season. But that was Price dozing a bit on a clean faceoff win by Tomas Plekanec; other than that, he was a wall.
In nine of the 10 games the Canadiens have played this season, the W has gone to the team that blocked more shots. It is a measure of the willingness to sacrifice in order to win, and the stat was very telling in Boston.
Seven Bruins each had one block. Jaroslav Spacek had six for the Canadiens (following five against the Flyers), Josh Gorges (who played a Hamrlikian 23:42), Travis Moen and P.K. Subban three each.
It’s a measure of the Bruins’ territorial advantage that they directed 61 shots – 30 on goal, 21 blocked 10 missing the net – toward Price, compared to 49 (35-7-7) on Tim Thomas. But the Canadiens were willing to get in front of shots, which can be a scary proposition playing against Zdeno Chara.
The Boston captain played a mind-boggling 28:17 but was not a factor either on the Bruins’ six power plays or in his own end, where Chara was forechecked effectively and coughed the puck up three times.
Here’s a weird stat: The biggest player in the NHL had as many hits as David Desharnais: 0.
Lucic led both teams with four hits and was a menacing presence on every shift. He, Peverley and Tyler Seguin were the most dangerous Boston forwards, and there were a few shifts when the Canadiens – notably Erik Cole – had a miserable time clearing their zone.
Price remained unflappable, however. And he has now excelled on consecutive nights against two teams that like to crash the net.
The Canadiens did some crashing of their own. Max Pacioretty was low-key against the team that nearly ended his career – he’s saving it for the Bell Centre – but Travis Moen, Mathieu Darche, Mike Blunden and Erik Cole were in Tim Thomas’s face. Hard work in front of the net by Cole and Darche got the Canadiens back into the game halfway through the second period, during which they had 18 shots on the Boston goaltender.
Doubtless reckoning that cheap shots on Pacioretty would be classless even by their standards, the Bruins targeted P.K. The execrable Marchand goaded Subban into two minors and an absurd fight that delighted TD Garden’s sophisticated hockey crowd.
But P.K. kept his cool, and Randy Ladouceur, running the D in the post-Perry Pearn era, played him 19 minutes.
A few more stats:
• Petteri Nokelainen went 7-4 on faceoffs, winning five of eight in the defensive zone
• Benoit Pouliot did nothing for nine minutes.
• Cammalleri and Cole each had six shots on goal. Cole also had six Wednesday night against Philadelphia.
• In winning his 101st, Carey Price lowered his GAA to 2.66.
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Icing on the Cake:
And here are a few words from a goaltender not named Carey Price: