Thursday, 30 January 2014

Game Fifty-Four: Habs vs. Bruins

Third Period:

-  Bourque with one of his better efforts tonight. Which doesn't say much, but he's been hustling (for the most part).

- It's a funeral home in the Boston Gardens. The fans are completely indifferent unless their team is winning.

- Bruins will have to completely open it up at this point. Time is running out.

- Habs now into icing mode, which is basically just asking for trouble. They've got the legs tonight, there's really no need for the play to be ground to a halt. They can forecheck and trap the remainder of the game with relative ease.

- If the Habs had a half decent transition game, they could generate a ton of odd man breaks to close this period. IF.

- More credit where credit is due, Budaj has been excellent tonight. Not sure if the result would have been much different with Price in net, but the right call was made in starting him.

- Another impressive outing by Beaulieu tonight, he's really taken a significant step forward since his precious demotion - Habs will be hard pressed not to keep him around, which probably spells doom for Diaz as a member of this organization.

- Well, Habs went out tonight and dominated. Using their speed and aggressive forechecking, the Bruins were just totally absent most of this contest. Habs now inching themselves into the playoff mix, and now head home for a 4 game stand. The calls for Therrien's head will undoubtably lessen - the Habs will need to win quite a few more if the heat is going to be reduced. Nonetheless, full marks tonight. Budaj was fine, Beaulieu, Bournival and Gallagher really stood out. So satisfying to hand it to Boston.

Second Period:

- Habs 51% Corsi, 52% Fenwick (all) in that period. Can I call it or can I call it??

- Bruins goal has now been awarded to Hamilton. I'm guessing Kercji made the correction during the intermission.

- 1st period Corsi by the numbers, Murray 6-3, Gorges 7-9, Beaulieu 7-5, Emelin 9-12, Subban 6-8,  Markov 9-12.

- Bourque slow along the wall gets hammered. Slow to get up. Slow to defend his zone. Gets nailed for a hold. This is why most NHL coaches wouldn't stand his presence in their lineup.

- Impressive kill. Bruins much like the start of the first, stumbling to start this frame. 

- Therrien calls a timeout, not sure why. Bruins weren't overwhelming the Habs, don't have significant momentum. Puzzling.

- Bournival nearly scores. With Parros as one of his linemates. That alone is impressive.

- Marchand cheap shots Gallagher after the whistle. Desharnais gets sent for standing up to this bully. Bruins really ought have the extra 2 minutes.

- Just desserts as Gimota with a beauty tip off a Plekanec wrister. Habs grab an essential 2 goal lead. And Rask (wow) is yanked.

- Rask is absolutely furious at being pulled by Julien. Storms off the bench. Yikes.

- Holy moly. Parting of the sea by the Bruins defense and Briere of all players, buries it on the break. A shocking 4-1 Habs lead.

- Credit when it's due, Habs have dominated this game since Therrien called for time.

- Bruins opening up, rolling the dice to get something going. At this point, they might as well.

- Bruins outhitting 23-13 at this point, which makes sense since they've been doing most of the chasing this game. 

- Budaj hasn't been overwhelmed with activity, but he has made some quality stops. He seems to have Boston's number, for whatever reason.

- Boos rain down. Quite the period for the Habs, who while outshot, still were the faster, more energetic team. Boston is, quite simply, laying an egg tonight. 

First Period:

- So who had Emelin in their first goal pool? Habs putting plenty of traffic in front of the Bruins' goal to help grab the early lead.

- George Parros is +1. Has that happened more than once this season?

- Pretty aggressive start for Montreal, Bruins almost appeared shocked by what's been thrown at them early. Julien will make adjustments accordingly, but so far no answer to Habs focus on attack via speed.

- So Habs get a PP and take their foot off the aggressive throttle. Don't understand this. Just get it on net, guys.

- Canadiens' defensive softness starting to shine through and Bruins are generating high percentage chances. This should be tied soon.

- Nix that, what an incredible effort to carry the puck down and bury through Rask's legs. Sweet feed by Desharnais. Habs lead by two. Who woulda thunkit?

- Hamilton. 50 footer off Markov who was protecting the crease, and in. B's catch a huge break and it's 2-1.

- Boston desperately seeking a tie before period is out, Therrien would be wise to put out his checking units. 

- Goal replay shows Krejci redeflected the Hamilton shot, a result of his ability to outmuscle Markov in the slot. So Habs soft defense strikes again.

- Rask with ridiculous save on Desharnais redeflect. Goals are not going to come easily for Habs tonight, thereby making their zone performance all the more critical the last two periods. I remain doubtful they can do that.

- Beaulieu is already better than Murray or Emelin on their best night. He really ought to be paired with a top 4 guy like Gorges.

- Very good effort in the first, Habs might actually have narrowly outpossesed the Bruins. They were, overall, more aggressive and even faster than Boston. Budaj solid, so we can't second guess the decision to start him - yet.


Well, who knows anymore.

Nearly 48 hours fresh off an underwhelming victory over the middling Hurricanes, the Habs enter the teeth of a storm that are the Boston Bruins tonight. Just about every indicators point towards a relatively routine bean town win tonight.

And why not make the assumption? The Bruins head into the game riding a four game winning streak (best League streak going at the moment), a commanding first place lead in the Atlantic Division, bolstered by a defense that's played consistently near the top of the League all season. Boston is relatively healthy to boot. Tuukka Rask is having another fine season. Etc., etc.

On the other bench, the Habs, even with that Tuesday night win, are spiraling down the Conference/Division standings, and are now in a dogfight for a wild card spot. Team defense is in shambles, not helped by the fact that Habs management has now officially declared a love-in for Doug Murray, the 2nd worst playing defenseman in the NHL, while Rapheal Diaz, one of the few guys who's been even slightly competent in his own zone, will sit in the pressbox ... again.

Oh yeah. And backup Peter Budaj will start. Against the number one team in the Division. Because in the past, he'd had a few good starts against Boston, which is utterly meaningless.

So how can the Habs win this one? Luck, I guess? They're going to get outpossessed and outshot a ton tonight. They're going to over-utilize the "tough" Murray, which will only make possession and SA matters worse.

Want a bright spot? The Habs have beaten the Bruins the past four games (true!!). Which like Budaj's record against Boston, is an irrelevant stat (D'OH). Besides, that was then (we were better). This is now (we're terrible).

I hope I'm wrong, but I don't see this game as being much of a contest.

Puck drops at 7:10 EST. Hide the kids. This could be ugly.



We'll be posting gameday updates all through the day. So here's what we got so far.

- Peter Budaj will start tonight, because ... the hell if I know. Start your second string guy against the top club in your Division. I .. just ... ugh ...

- Anyway, Habs recalled Christian Thomas from Hamilton this morning. Thomas, no doubt, eagerly anticipating being stapled to a bench for three hours. But the view is great!! UPDATE: Apparently Thomas is staying put in Hamilton? Nobody seems to know for sure. Habs communication lines obviously a well oiled machine today. Perhaps their terri-bad Twitter account could throw us a clarification bone?

- Defensive scratches tonight: Frankie Bouillon (fine), and Raphael Diaz (sigh).

More as we receive.

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