So who’s in nets against the Rangers?
Jacques Martin – a coach whose every move paid off in the Canadiens’ first rout of the season – wasn’t saying.
“I’ll sleep on it,” Martin said. “And then I’ll have a bright idea.”
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Despite being outshot 32-20, your Montreal Canadiens beat the Boston Bruins 6-1.
And every goal – four at even strength, two on the PP – was a beaut!
“It was a big challenge for us the way they’ve been playing,” said Saku Koivu. “Early on, when they had good chances, Christobal made great saves.
“We didn’t have a ton of chances, but we capitalized on them.”
Manny Fernandez’s save percentage on the game was a woeful .700. But the Boston goaltender had no chance on the Canadiens’ goals, each of which was the result of precision passing.
“Every game we’ve been in has come down to the last minute,” said Tom Kostopoulos, who assisted on Steve Bégin’s first goal of the season.
“This was a little comforting,” Kostopoulos added. “We won’t win a ton of games that way, but we did the little things right.
“I thought we made smart plays at their blue line, chipping the puck in, working down low.”
The five-goal margin of victory was the Canadiens’ first since Super Bowl Sunday, 2006. In an afternoon game at the Bell Centre, they beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-0.
Michael Ryder (held off the scoresheet tonight) had a hat trick, with single goals by Sheldon Souray and Jan Bulis.
Tonight Francis Bouillon was plus-3. Every skater in the lineup was a plus, except Patrice Brisebois, who was even on the night.
Every player except Bouillon, Kyle Chipchura, Michael Ryyder and Guillaume Latendresse (who played really well) had at least a point.
That makes for a happy room.
And a happy owner. George Gillett popped into congratulate his employees.
I still can’t believe a team that has the devil’s own time scoring managed to pot six on 20 shots. Is this how the Soviet national team used to win games.
J.T.’s final comments:
FINALLY! I’d forgotten what it was like to not sweat through the last three minutes of a Habs game.
Unsung hero of the game: Plekanec. He was, as usual, solid defensively and creative offensively. I love the guy.
Credit where credit’s due: Breezer’s goal was a beaut. Even a three-legged dog can tree a cat once in a while.
Contributions from every line and Carbo smiling. How nice it will be for our friends at the Gazette who have to go to the post-game press conference.
This just goes to prove, it’s not the number of shots you have, it’s the quality.
And…WHO said “shutout” before the game ended? I know someone out there did!
Markov’s smiling too. When the moooon is in the seventh house…And Jupiter aligns with Mars…
And, there’s the first star, whom I REALLY want to not be traded this year…as usual giving the credit to his teammates in his post-game interview.
Biggest sigh of relief: Grabovski. He’s been cursed since he had his first NHL goal called back last year, and the fumes of Steeltown were drifting to his nostrils with eerie pungency. He might have saved a trip back to the Doghouse…and his NHL career…with that goal.
Biggest smile: Me. My early-morning colleague is a B’s fan.
Third Period 0:57 Savard goes for a slash. Jerk.
Third Period 2:26 Scrum in the creasse in a 6-1 game. Rdiculous
Third Period 6:05 Ference squares off with Grabovski. What a tough guy!
Third Period 7:21 Break up this dynasty! Andrei Markov makes it 6-1.
Manny Being Manny has a glittering .667 save percentage.
Third Period 8:56 Another PP And Grabovski makes a nice pass. Kostitsyn could be eating hot dogs for a while
Third Period 9:45 In the time I’ve been blogging this is the most highlight reel goals I’ve seen the Canadiens score.
Third Period 10:26 Just one beauty after another. Mathieu Dandenault beats Chara (who’s about minus-10 tonight) and sends Smolinski away to feed Grabovski for the first of his career.
Third Period 12:00 Milan Lucic outmuscles Breezer and dings one off the post. That kkid can play.
Third Period 13:19 Alone in the slot, Dennis Widemann makes it 4-1 on the PP.
Third Period 14:42 Mark Streit for holding. If the Bruins don’t score here, they’re done.
Third Period 16:24 The Bruins haven’t scored at the Bell Centre for 10 months.
Third Period 18:15 Man, that was prettty. Tic-tac-toe, and Breezer makes it 4-0. Another PP goal. An assist for Kovy.
Fearless prediction for the third period: If it goes to 4-0, stand by for a goon show.
Chara has played 16:59 – 10 seconds more than Markov (who will erase the deficit while the big guy sits in the box to start the third period).
J.T.’s notes on the second period:
Okay, maybe Kostopoulos’ hands are a more malleable stone than originally thought. Maybe a nice soapstone.
So, apparently, a long-lost memo came to light in the Bell Centre this week. It was a two-year old note from the league, informing the defence the two-line pass is now legal.
Julien left the ice doing that rapid-blink thing he does when he’s really steamed.
Even on RDS you can hear the team talking to each other on the ice. That’s a good thing.
Some goalies have a thing about stepping on the lines, or putting on their gear in a certain order. Huet has a thing about allowing goals to the Bruins. He’s on fire tonight.
The only one smiling at Breezer’s play tonight is Josh Gorges.
Someone has informed Latendresse that he’s actually a large mammal, capable of independent, crushing movement, rather than a lead doorstop. He’s taken the message to heart.
Chara should get an extra two for the embarrassment of a guy his size resorting to using the stick.
Kovy’s on pace for forty. I’m convinced someone misinformed him on which is his contract year.
I wonder if, when Carbo looks in the mirror, Chipchura looks back at him? That’s one very smart player.
The Bruins have 22 shots on Cristobal Huet. He’s stopped them all.
Manny Fernandez has been beaten on three of the Canadiens’ 14 shots.
There’s your game story, right there.
The Canadiens have – stand by for sports cliché – made the most of their opportunities.
The Higgins and Bégin goals travelled a total of three feet. Kovalev’s was from the faceoff circle.
The Bs have done some buzzing, but Huet is hot – as is his new best friend, Roman Hamrlik.
The new sheriff in town plays the headiest D we’ve seen in these parts for a long time.
Hamrlik doesn’t have Andrei Markov’s speed. But he reads the play superbly, is never out of position and makes intelligent passes.
Best acquisition of the Bob Gainey era.
• • •
Second Period 0:11 Chara goons Komisarek and goes to sit.
Second Period 2:12 Goal of the year! Kostopoulos zooms past Chara for loose puck, wheels around sprawling Aaron Ward, feeds Bégin
Second Period 3:19 Not a great icing. End of shift for Koivu line.
Second Period 4:49 Latendresse outmuscles Ference in the corner. He’s much better on thhe second line.
Second Period 5:25 Shots are 10-2 Boston this period. Huet’s been brilliant.
Second Period 5:25 Another Breezer moment, backing in with the puck at his feet. He ain’t great tonight.
Second Period 8:02 I guess you call that a good penalty. Francis Bouillon hauled down Marco Sturm, in alone.
Second Period 9:40 Markov played a shift with Streit.
Second Period 10:09 Huet has made 15 saves, Fernandez eight.
Second Period 10:29 That’s hockey: Hamrlik and Komisarek cllean Bruins out of the front of the net.
Second Period 13:32 The value of winning faceoffs. Pleks to Kovy
Second Period 13:33 A great Higgins shhift … again. I wish Ryder were more of help to him.
Second Period 15:08 Hamrlik foils a Bruins rush. The crowd is starting to notice this season’s 44 can play
Second Period 17:00 Why does the first PP out of a break – even a two-man advantage – always suck?
Second Period 19:10 Man, that was dumb. Marco Sturm for cross-chhecking.
• • •
J.T.’s incisive notes on the first period (I’ll save you scrolling down the comments):
Dandy beats icings the way a fat kid makes it to the last hot dog.
Kostopoulos is FINALLY on the fourth line where he belongs. He has hands of stone, but fortunately, the rest of his body is composed of the same dense material.
Higgins’ guru must have changed the tape. Nice goal.
Huet! Huet! Breezer’s kingdom for another year on Huet’s contract!
Hamrlik is quietly establishing himself as the best defenceman on the team. Markov is trying to do too much.
You know what’s not fair? They pay Gorges the least on the team, and he’s the one who has to buy the most suits.
Komisarek isn’t himself. I don’t know if it’s because Markov isn’t really on the top of his game, or if his summertime goals are weighing on him, but he needs to simplify.
Koivu once again proves the importance of faceoffs with the draw on the Higgins goal. That was nice work.
Begin should be called The Exterminator for the way he kills penalties. His tenacity could inspire a nagging four-year-old.
Grabovski needs to get his first goal very soon. I can’t help but feel he’s on borrowed time.
Canadiens play well after a jittery start. Bruins had six of their nine shots in the first 11 minutes, the Canadiens six of their eight thereafter.
The most egregious error of the period was a Patrice Brisbois pass right onto the stick of Glen Metropolit.
Canadiens are 4-9 on faceoffs.
Patrice Bergeron is 5-2.
But one of Saku Koivu’s two wining draws produced the game’s only goal.
First Period 0:15 Chuck Kobasew takes a late interference penalty.
First Period 3:00 A lonely cry from the cheap(er) seats: “Kostopoulos!” Magic Tom had lain a pretty good hit on Dennis Wideman.
First Period 6:33 Brilliant. Steve Bégin hustles Marc Savard into an idiotic penalty on the Bruins PP
First Period 7:46 Koivu wins the draw back to Komisarek, Fernandez stops the shot and Higgins is there for an opportunistic tap in.
First Period 9:00 Shots are 6-2. But Latendresse just flattened Andrew Ference to get one of the few cheers of thhe evening.
These aren’t the slowpoke Bruins of yesteryear. Julien has them playing an aggressive forechecking and tight defensive style. Canadiens won’t see many odd man rushes tonight. Boston has had a few already.
First Period 10:48 Huet saves a goal … and Breezer’s ass. A perfect pass from Brisebois to Glen Mtropolit. JT is laughing
First Period 12:35 Nice stretch pass, Bouillon to Higgins.
First Period 13:30 Roman Hamrlik and Patrice Brisebois are in total control when they’re out there. No panic. Great zone clearances. A joy to watch.
First Period 16:30 A good shift by the third line.
First Period 18:33 Bruins have the first three shots.
First Period 20:00 Introduction of Lucian Bute. The joint goes wild.
Wonder if he could take Lucic.
OK, that’s enough happiness for the great city of Boston.
Tonight at the Bell Centre, the Canadiens will try to dampen the irrational exuberance that reigns in the Hub (has anyone called Boston that since Dick Young died?)
Ominous note: Claude Julien is undefeated against his former employers. His New Jersey Devils beat the Canadiens four times last season.
Hopeful note: The Bruins have not scored at the Bell Centre since 19:09 of the third period on Dec. 12, 2006. They lost that game 4-3 and were subsequently shut out twice by Jaroslav Halak.
• • •
Henri Richard in the pre-game Heritage video.
Tonight’s “This is my team” narrator is Mike Komisarek. Ends with “La ville est hockey …”
• • •
Bruins are letting Manny be Manny.
Fernandez gets the start in goal tonight.
• • •
Mark Streit is minus-5.
Boston’s Phil Kessel is minus-4. Chuck Kobasew tops Boston at plus-5.
Kobasew, Patrice Bergeron, Kessel and Marco Sturm have three goals each.
Alex Kovalev is the only Canadien who’s scored three times. Saku Koivu, Christopher Higgins and Andrei Markov have two.
• • •
RDS ran a video feature called “On aime les detester” featuring the five Bruins Canadiens fans most love to hate (or love to hate most … or something)
5. Ken Linseman
4. Hal Laycoe (clocks the Rocket and starts the sequence of events that ends in the Richard Riot)
3. Terry O’Reilly
2. Stan Jonathan (but the video cuts off before the little guy decks Pierre Bouchard); and
1. Don Cherry.
• • •
Guy Carbonneau stands pat with the lineup that beat Buffalo.
Forward lines: Christopher Higgins/Saku Koivu/Michael Ryder, Guillaume Latendresse/Tomas Plekanec/Alex Kovalev, Mikhail Grabovski/Bryan Smolinski/Mathieu Dandenault, Steve Bégin/Kyle Chipchura/Tom Kostopoulos
Defence pairings: Andrei Markov/Mike Komisarek, Roman Hamrlik/Patrice Brisebois, Francis Bouillon/Mark Streit
Goal: Cristobal Huet
Healthy scratches: Andrei Kostitsyn, Josh Gorges
• • •
Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated has written a customarily excellent piece on five NHL people flying under the radar.
Canadiens Director of Player Personnel is Farber’s number 5.
• • •
The Bruins have informed the Vancouver Giants that their captain won’t be back in the Western Hockey League this season.
Milan Lucic, 19, is staying with the big club. A second-round Boston draft choice (50th overall) in 2006, the 6-4, 220-pound LW has played seven games for the Bruins.
On the team’s west-coast trip, Lucic recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick – a goal, an assist and a fight – against the L.A. Kings.
(The scrap was with Raitis Ivanans. Remember him? The kid gave as good as he got but did not fare as well as his teammate, Zdeno Chara, who broke Ivanans’ face in a fight two years ago.)
Lucic has 2 points and 17 PIM this season. He’s the kind of player they love in Boston.
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