The Bruins were disciplined : only one minor penalty taken by someone not named Benoit Pouliot, and it didn’t come until 18:21 of the third period.
They absorbed early pressure, as the Canadiens skated to a 10-5 shot advantage in the game’s first 20 minutes.
Boston got great goaltending, which is what you expect any time Tim Thomas straps on the pads.
And they took advantage of the one good scoring chance the Canadiens gave them all night long.
So the hated Bs were full value for the two points they snatched at the Bell Centre.
But the home team played a really strong hockey game, and there was no single aspect of what the Canadiens did that yoyu could seize upon and say “That was the problem.”
Which won’t prevent some fans from bitching about wasted power plays and Scott Gomez’s ice time.
Both issues are red herrings.
The Canadiens exhibited good puck control and smart passing during the six minutes of PP time Benny was dumb enough to give them.
But the Bruins look at video. Their PK scheme prevented cross-ice passing, and shots from the point were pressured, rushed and rarely found the target.
Not the worst forward in a red jersey. He won power-play faceoffs, which were a crucial element in letting the Canadiens get set-up, since gaining the zone was a problem against the Bruins’ neutral-zone PK scheme.
Gomez was late sliding acrodss the ice toward Andrew Ference on the only shot of the game that made a red light click on. But that whole sequence was a mess, beginning with Lars Eller’s pointless O-zone hit on Adam McQuaide, a delayed penalty that had the Canadiens scrambling as the Bruins wheeled up ice.
Other than that costly breakdown, however, the Canadiens were airtight.
Boston came to the Bell Centre averaging 32 shots and 3.3 goals per game. They scored once and had 18 SoG against a defence missing four of its most experienced members.
With the help of assiduously backchecking forwards, the Canadiens are limiting shots. They’re second best in the league, averaging 26.4.
And they’re averaging 31.5 shots for – good for eighth, just behind Boston.
Bottom line: Your 11th-place Canadiens are playing well … and they’re three points out of sixth.
Are there nits to pick?
There always are.
• When Claude Julien started the game with his fourth line, why didn’t Jacques Martin counter with Tomas Plekanec or David Desharnais to get some firepower and make an early statement. Martin probably wanted to save Pleks and DD for match-ups against Patrice Bergeron and Dravid Krejci, but letting the visiting coach set the tone is a wrong-footed way to start a game on home ice.
• P.K. Subban looked tired in the third period, which might explain why he wasn’t one of the six Canadiens pressing for an equalizer until there were only 12 ticks left and the faceoff was in the neutral zone.
• Eller looks a bit lost with Gomez (who leads many capable linemates down the dark road to nowhere) and Travis “Hands of Stone” Moen.
• Unlike his two high-flyin’ linemates, Max Pacioretty is a bit out of sorts.
Now some positives:
• Erik Cole rungs up some more Beast stats: six shots on goal, five hits, many speedy dashes down the right wing
• Alexei Emelin had five hits and did not back down from any of Boston’s vaunted thumpers.
Nor did the Bruins intimidate Raphael Diaz, Yannick Weber or Freedéric St. Denis.
On the other hand, maybe the usual Boston nonsense wasn’t part of their game plan.
The visitors snatched two points playing smart, disciplined hockey.
And what kind of Montreal-Boston game is it when the only fight is in the seats?
Canadiens practice Tuesday morning and then travel to Carolina.
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Hey, Pittsburgh is at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
I hear Sidney Crosby is back, eh?
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HNIC’s Leaf angle of the night:
They pointed out that Crosby was ripin’ it up on Foster Hewitt’s birthday.