The Canadiens continue to have the Boston Bruins number,. Led by the top line of Pacioretty, Desharnais and Weise the Canadiens completed a four game season sweep of the Boston Bruins Saturday night with a 3-1 victory at TD Garden in Boston. Pacioretty and Weise each recorded a goal and assist in the game and Carey Price did the rest stopping 34 of 35 shots. The other Canadiens goal was scored into the empty net by Andrei Markov after rookie David Pastrnak had narrowed the score to 2-1 with 4:31 remaining. The RDS three stars in the game were Price, Pacioretty and Weise.
Adding It Up –
Passive/Agressive – The Canadiens failed to take it their opponents physically last weekend and lost back-to-back games to bottom feeders Buffalo and Arizona last week. The aggression was back over the weekend. They carried a solid forechecking game Saturday against the Devils right into this game. In the second and third periods they actually outhit the Big Bad Bruins 20-18 through the final two periods.
In Their Heads – Carey Price again made it look easier than it really was. The scoring chances were 38-27 in Boston’s favour but for more than 55 minutes he had them. He got some help from Michael Bournival in a goalmouth scramble in the first period, Dale Weise cleared it out of harm’s way at one point in the second, but the rest of it it was all Carey. When the Bruins scored late in the third it ended a Price shutout streak of 159:25 against them. He allowed only six goals in four games for a 1:50 goals against average and a .950 save percentage.
Explosive – Max Pacioretty set the tone early. In the first the first 12 minutes of the game he had four scoring chances and hit a goalpost. In the first minute of the second period he found Dale Weise alone in front for the game’s first goal. In the first minute of the third he scored the game winner on a breakaway with blistering wrist shot on a breakaway. Of his 24 goals, six have been game winners. What’s truly startling is Pacioretty’s Selke-Trophy-like defensive work. He was plus-2 on the night and is now plus-28 for the season. The league leader is Nikita Kucherov of Tampa at plus-29.
Handy Man – Michel Therrien has received more than his share of criticism for putting Dale Weise on the Habs first line with Desharnais and Pacioretty. Along with his goal and assist (which completed a four point weekend) Weise’s contribution included four shots on goal, 3 takeaways and two hits. He even won a faceoff. And, with his size he cleared out room for Pacioretty and especially Desharnais to operate.
Centre Stage – It’s a mug’s game arguing about three star selections, but room might have been made for P.K. Subban who just got better and better as the TD Garden fans booed him. In his 27:42 he took 8 shots, three on goal. Because he’s such a spectacular puck carrier and playmaker we tend to pass over just how good he is defensively. I would be hard pressed to think of a better defense pairing in the NHL right now than Subban and Markov right now.
In Trouble – Few in Montreal are feeling sorry for the Bruins, but this is a team sadly in need of some re-construction. The Eastern Conference has not only the Canadiens but also Tampa Bay and the Rangers who can outskate them. And the once vaunted ‘fear-factor’ doesn’t work for them any more. Their best players are looking old. The Canadiens have beaten them 10 of the last 11 times they’ve seen them in the regular season and they took them out in last year’s playoffs. Time to do some soulsearching in Boston.
Also Worth Mentioning -….. Therrien moved Jacob de la Rose off the wing to centre on the fourth line with Michael Bournival and Christian Thomas. They supplied a little offense something that has been absolutely missing when Manny Malhotra centred the fourth line. Not a big threat, but a threat nonetheless. ……In six minutes of power play time the Canadiens produced only one shot on goal but they also hit two goalposts.
Moving On – The Canadiens are tied for second place in the Eastern Conference with Detroit, two points behind Tampa Bay. The Canadiens and Detroit each have 3 games in hand over the Lightning. There will be three home games next week all against non-playoff teams. Philadelphia on Tuesday, Edmonton Thursday and Toronto on Saturday.