Speed killed

Canadiens floated like butterflies, and they stung the Bs 4-1 to grab a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven.

Muhammad Ali metaphors work. Canadiens’ passing was too pretty and their skating was too fast for the lumbering Bruins.

The visitors managed a measly 18 shots through three periods of playoff hockey – five during a third period dominated by the home team.

Canadiens had nine names on the scoresheet and scoring from three lines. They outhit the alllegedly big, bad Bruins 37-25.

But it was the speed of all four lines – plus a near error-free performance by the D-men – that made the difference.

I asked Josh Gorges if he was glad he didn’t have to play against the kind of speed his teammates showed tonight.

"Yeah, it’s tough," he replied. "It’s a fast tempo. They’re comin’, they’re comin’ and they keep comin’. Just line after line, wave after wave."

The effect on the Boston defence was cumulative over 60 minutes.

"It’s the reason we have that game plan and system," Gorges said. "It might not pay off in the first period or the second period. But comes the last 10 minutes of the third period, it wears on teams.

"I know as a defencman if you’re turning around and skating back for pucks all night long, getting hit, getting bumped, it wears you down.

"As a d-man getting bumped around all night, sometimes you get tired, you don’t even want to go back for it. The work ethic our guys have, they just keep comin’."

Gorges said Canadiens played with "a lot of energy – we were quick to pucks, we didn’t waste time.

"We made sure we didn’t put ourselves in trouble. We didn’t hold on to the puck. We got it, we moved it forward."

"We play our best," Christopher Higgins said, "when we move the puck ahead and keep our feet moving.

"We have pretty good team speed," Higgins added. "They tried to slow us up by playing physical, but there’s only so much you can do with the rules to slow guys up."

I asked Higgins if everything had unfolded acccordiing to Canadiens’ game plan.

"I don’t want to say that because they can always change," he said. "But we played a pretty solid game from start to finish.

"The game came as advertised. They played tough. We didn’t get too many scoring chances. It’s going to be a low-scoring series for sure."

But in the case of the Canadiens, a fast-skating series.

• • •

Mike Komisarek said he felt "fresh, rejuvenated and better as the game went on." The big defenceman played 17 minutes, blocked four shots and happily reported no pain in his hip.

Komisarek was glad to see Bryan Smolinski and Tom Kostopoulos score goals.

"They’re a tough line to play against," he said of Canadiens’ pluggers. "They’re battling, they’re working and they’re getting chances because of it. They got rewarded with a couple goals."





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