Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Game Nine: Bruns vs. Habs

It's almost one year to the day since the last time the Bruins and Habs squared off against each other. In case you've forgotten, and believe me, most of us Habs fans strive to non remember last season, Boston has won the last four straight. Not good.

But that was then! Things are much different now. We have already-Norris-Trophy candidate Andrei Markov back at full capacity quarterbacking the blue line. We've got two stellar young players in Brendan Gallagher and already-Calder-Trophy candidate Alex Galchenyuk making our 3rd line a force to reckon with. We've got Carey Price playing arguably the best hockey of his life, near the top of the League in SP and GAA.

We've got a League-leading goals F/A ration for 5-on-5 play: 2.15 which is way ahead of second place Tampa Bay who sit at 1.67. That's a pretty sizable improvement over last year, when the Habs finished 18th overall in that critical department.

What has Boston got? Well, a lot. They're good. Real good. Maybe not 2010 good, but they're definitely a contender this season. What they don't have is Tim Thomas (man, I miss that guy - he provided sooooo much material to write about). They do have Tuukka Rask, who unlike Thomas, hasn't had the greatest of success against the Habs - even though the Canadiens have been, by full rights, a pretty mediocre, nay, terrible team the past couple of years.

Oh ... and they also don't have goon specialist Brad Marchand in the lineup, he's got some eye problem or something. Not sure. Anyway, he ain't playin'.

Carey Price will start - as if I even need to tell you all.

It's gonna be a good one. First place on the line!

First Period:

- Well that won't keep you out of the doghouse. Lars Eller rings a shot off Price in an ... er ... particularly sensitive area. We think Price will be alright, but we know deep down he's not. Price looked mighty mad after taking the shot, and immediately skated to the dressing room.

- Beautiful patience puck control and feed into the crease by Eller along the wing, Armstrong had the empty net but couldn't quite guide it in.

- Good pace, fast changes, and Rask robbed Bourque off a rebound. Habs have to be pleased with the pace they've set.

- No goal but Habs PP looks like its firing all cylinders, if that first one is any future indicator.

- Markov/Subban combo at the point looks particularly potent, as we kinda already figured it would.

- Habs are dominating this thing. Need some payoff though.

- 11 minutes in, no registered shots for the Bruins.

- High stick on Bouillon right in front of the ref, no call.

- Little pushback by Bruins here, crossbar hit.

- Speaking of hits, relatively tame game, hit-wise - certainly nothing compared to years past.

- Bruins going with four forward setup on their PP, much like our last place unit did last year. Boston two PPs, zero shots.

- Habs really taking it to the Bruins in the 1st, with the usual stuff we've seen this year. Emphasis on speed, driving opposition net. Rask made a few excellent saves to keep the Habs off the board, but he can't hold the fort forever.

Second Period:

- Plekanec's worst breakaway of his career?

- Bruins defense doing a tremendous job blocking Habs shots. Can't score if you can't get them in goal.

- Subban with an absolute cannon from the line for his first of the year on the PP. Crowd goes nuts. Habs score the critical first goal of the game.

- After trying Markov/Subban first unit pairong, looked like Therrien was returning to Markov/Diaz as the first unit. Subban's goal assisted by ... Markov. Coach might change his mind again.

- Bruins buzzing with Prust line on. Subban stung by point shot. Price fortunately covers up before Boston strikes. But tempo being now set by the B's.

- Really think Therrien will just cave in eventually, and go with Markov/Subban as the first power unit. Why divide your strength?

- Is there anyone better in the NHL at making his position look easy than Carey Price?

- Bruins as expected, evening things up a bit in the period, but Price looks so solid right now, Boston might need to look for some garbage if they want to even the score in the 3rd.

Third Period:

- Certainly no garbage goal there - Seguin finishes off quick shoot in, fast turnover, and pretty pass in front.

- Bruins coming out hard. Price trying to hold the fort. Habs need pushback quickly.

- Falling apart here, Habs defense way too soft on the Bruins rush, and Plekanec is one step too far behind, much like the first goal. 2-1 Boston.

- Boston still coming hard. Therrien might want to consider calling for time.

- Rask with a brilliant rebound save off Desharnais, but not feeling imminent scoring pressure being demonstrated by Habs offense. Boston has this game under control.

- Habs D has attempted three long bomb passes for breakaways the past minute, none quite connecting. Bit soon for the Hail Mary, but nothing else really working right now.

- Bruins forwards scorching the neutral zone - no where to rush, no where to pass. Habs no answers to the puzzle.

- Eller looked great in the first. Since then, invisible.

- Desharnais simply has to bury that past Rask. You can't miss those kinds of opportunities.

- Big push here. Just need to get these opportunities ON the goal.

- So many blocked shots, it's frustrating as hell to watch this.

- Killer penalty on Subban. Boston is going to win this.

- Hold the phone. Boston takes a penalty. Hope yet.

- Habs dominated the first, and last five minutes of the third. That's it. That isn't going to cut it against a team like the Bruins. Lesson learned for the next time.

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