Adding It Up –
The Big Number – Twenty-nine. The number of Bruins shots the Canadiens blocked in their 4-2 win. For most of the game the Bruins were forced to take low percentage shots from the boards as the Canadiens defensemen and forwards boxed them out of areas in front of Carey Price.
The Missing Link – Jaroslav Spacek’s return to the lineup has solidified what was a struggling defensive corps. With is return the Canadiens now ice three defensive units, each with a veteran player on it. Spacek played with Yannick Weber again and was responsible for seven of the twenty-nine blocked shots.
They Were That Bad – The answer to the age-old question “Were the Canadiens that good or the Bruins that Bad?” Whatever was being said about the Canadiens losing streak, they were never in the malaise that currently hangs over Boston. The Bruins have now played five straight indifferent periods against Montreal. In the first minute of the game Carey Price had to make a difficult save and the Bruins rang one off the post. They managed only one shot the next 13 minutes as the Canadiens grabbed the game by the throat. Claude Julien’s future in Boston is now very much in doubt.
The Learning Curve – Lars Eller had one of those nights. His goal was brilliant he toe dragged the puck around the defense and fired an unstoppable shot into the top corner for the Canadiens second goal. But late in the second period he tried to bring the puck out of his own end by skating straight up the middle. Nathan Horton checked him and Milan Lucic was alone to score the Bruins first goal.
Four Deep – All four of the Habs forward lines did their job including the fourth line of Nokelainen/Blunden/Darche. They each put in around ten minutes each and as a group recorded five hits, the most memorable of which was a heavy hit Blunden put on Chara with two minutes left in the first period.
On a Roll – Erik Cole recorded four more shots on goal, that’s 22 the last three games. And, he led the Canadiens with five hits. An oddity, of the eighteen shifts taken by Cole/Desharnais/Pacioretty as a line in the game, nine straight came on the power play as the Bruins dumbed down their game enough to pick up six straight penalties.
Worthy of Mention – Andrei Kostitsyn had the kind of game that could have brought him a first star selection. His stat line (1 assist, 2 shots, 2 missed shots, 0 hits, 0 blocked shots) doesn’t tell the story of his game. He seems to have found a home on the line with Eller and Moen.
Changing Times – Going into the game against Florida on Monday, the Canadiens’ power play was ranked 29th in the NHL at 6.9 percent. In four games they have scored four goals on 16 opportunities (two of them in this game) and have risen seven places to 22nd in the league at 13.3%.
The Workhorse – Tomas Plekanec is too talented in every aspect of his game for his own good. The Canadiens would like to lighten his load a bit, but simply can’t. Plekanec logged 21:45 in the game, more than any other member of the team including the defensemen. He was on the power play 7:10 and killed every second of the two times the Canadiens were shorthanded (2:33). And he scored a goal and assist.
The Defense – Very solid on the night. The Bruins spent their share of time in the Canadiens defensive zone but seldom found themselves in position for a scoring chance. Part of it was a seeming unwillingness on the part of Boston to more into the dirty areas, but the defense (and the forwards) kept the play for the most part along the boards and behind the net. Carey Price took care of most of the rest of it.
Next Up – Six days off until the Canadiens play in Ottawa and at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. Their next practice won’t take place until Tuesday.
(more to come)