Thursday, 8 May 2014

Game Four - EC Semi Finals: Bruins vs. Habs


I'll let the video speak for itself, but add this bit. In Murray's two starts, he's played 24 ES minutes, resulting in 39 Boston shot attempts, or 94/60.

Yeah. That's bad. That's really bad.


- The best and worst part of these playoffs. One goal stands between the Habs and a probable third round appearance. That's it.

- Not gonna say who was on the ice when that goal was scored. But Therrien played with fire and tonight, it finally burnt.

- Well, I'll say it. Murray was behind his net, and Fraser, the last minute call up, easily beat him fighting for the puck. 

Scroll down and take a look at the game preview. I'll quote myself. "While Doug hasn't committed any errors that have directly resulted in a loss, it's only going to be a matter of time. Forewarned!!".



- So who's gonna be the goat tonight?

- Pacioretty off the wing, Rask looked pretty iffy making that save.

- Just shoot it on net, guys. Nothing pretty. Just put it on.

- Great start to the period for Montreal. Lots of energy, Eller line still looking great.

- Habs very diligent in their own zone, Boston struggling to generate a grade A shot on Price. Habs being very patient, looking to spring someone free off the break.

- Emelin called for a hit the exact same as Iginla delivered on Pacioretty. Horrible time for the official to be inconsistent.

- Bruins really pushing centre ice, and the Habs are having trouble moving the puck east/west. It's a chess match right now, both teams pushing with all their might but neither is buckling. 

- Habs just pounding the Bruins like crazy, and now they seem to be struggling to find their legs. Habs have dominated the period, in good position to score the first goal.

- Got nails? You won't after this night is over. Crazy good period for the Habs - their checking, both forward and back, was pretty near perfect. Against the team who run roughshod supreme over their opponents the final frame. The Habs hitting in the 3rd really paid dividends in slowing the Bruins up, whether or not that will carry into overtime, we'll have to see.


- Habs more aggressive with Rask to start the period, looking for dirty rebound goal. Rask isn't giving any up, though.

- Push by Boston. They're getting free entries into the Habs zone, which is a bad thing for the Canadiens.

- Habs need to hold on here - Bruins determined to get the game's first. Not sure how much longer Price can keep it out.

- Bruins 3rd and 4th lines really rolling right now, which is wearing the Habs ragged, especially in their own zone. This could have big playoffs for Boston as they game progresses.

- Refs have had whistles firmly in pockets, but make a bizarre marginal interference call on Subban. Wow.

- Nothing going right for is Boston powerplay. Totally disorganized and utterly ineffective. Habs PK has dominated this series.

- Bad powerplay for Boston and as a result, ice now tilting in favor of Montreal. Chance to capitalize at hand.

- Excellent shift by Eller generates Habs first PP of the night.

- Eller line all engines firing tonight. If Habs score tonight don't be surprised if that line is on at the time.

- Margins are ridiculously narrow between these two teams. The intensity of the battles out there are fierce as you'll see in any hockey game. Both teams playing for the mistake to break this scoreless tie, neither team has committed that big error. Yet.


- So Julien does shake up the lineup with the young Caron, and maybe more surprisingly, reinserting Barkowski, who really struggled in game one. It's an interesting gamble.

- Therrien juggles them up right off the bat - Plekanec/Gallagher/Vanek. Hmmm ....

- Murray out. ICING. Annnnnnnd ... drink.

- Habs focusing on hits and checking, Bruins on taking shots at Price early going.

- Another humdinger tonight. Desharnais had a sparking chance off a complex series of set passes, but hesitates on taking high percentqge shot. That's the bad Desharnais. 

- Chara, and I could be wrong, just doesn't look right.

- Iginla boards Pacioretty who hits his head hard on the glass. Pretty borderline.

- Pacioretty determined to continue his shifts. Concussion protocol apparently in the backseat.

- The good Doug Murray, who absolutely wrecks Thornton who had his head down entering Habs zone. Lovely.

- Game has settled down a bit, which I'd consider a Habs win. The Bruins came out hard but Canadiens kept them at bay.

- Bruins with possession edge, Habs controlling centre ice. Tradeoff is making this game reasonably even.

- Good P.K., outstanding sliding check to wreck a Bruins break. Bad P.K. Thoughtless blind turnover behind his net, Soderberg hits the crossbar. Bruins have to be totally frustrated at this point.


So the day was suddenly interrupted by all the nonsense happening in Toronto - with the Leafs making the perplexing decision of not only keeping their head coach Randy Carlyle around for one more season, but extending his contract for two more years. Oh Leafs fans. You poor, poor bunch. We feel badly for you. Well. Almost.

It goes without saying that if a guy like Carlyle can be as bad as he's been, and get rewarded with contract extension, it basically totally extinguishes our hopes of Michel Therrien going anywhere, anytime soon. In fact, with the Habs now well advanced into the 2nd round, he'll probably get a similar job extension this summer.

Oh yeah. We have a game tonight! It's a pivotal biggie. In a few hours time, the Habs will either find themselves enjoying a stranglehold 3-1 lead, or the Bruins heading home tied up and plenty of momentum in their sails.

What is there to expect tonight? Probably not a whole lot different, lineup-wise, than what we saw Tuesday night. That means another 60 minutes of Doug Murray, who even after an extraordinarily awful performance, even by his standards, is probably going to get another start tonight. Therrien continues to overlook the obvious when it comes to Murray, and while Doug hasn't committed any errors that have directly resulted in a loss, it's only going to be a matter of time. Forewarned!!

That aside, a few concluding thoughts:

- Let's get the obvious out of the way. Bruins will come out roaring for that first goal - the team scoring first in this series has won every game. The Bruins, let's be honest here - cannot lose tonight. Expect anything and everything. Physical play in overdrive. Ferocious forechecking. A desperate team playing desperately. Which means Carey Price can expect to be very, very busy tonight. Anything less than his "A" game will mean a Habs loss.

- Keep an eye out on Chara. Speculation around Montreal today that his wrist injury is actually pretty serious, but he's playing through it. If there's any semblance to that speculation, then keep an eye on his willingness to fire shots from the line. He may not be able, which won't help the Bruins' production.

- Habs really need to just do the same thing tonight. This means effective zone clearance, more east-west rather than north-south passing through the neutral zone, a tenacious forecheck to stifle the Bruins transition, and staying out of the penalty box.

- Will this be the night that David Desharnais and Max Pacioretty start collecting actual goals and assists? We're getting itchy waiting for top line production to finally arrive.

- Speaking of production or lack thereof, Bruins fans are getting pretty restless about David Krejci's failure to make a significant impact in the series. We saw Julien do a little bit of line juggling at practice this morning, breaking up the Krecji line as (we assume) part of attempt to spread the offense. But I just don't think come gametime that Julien will actually take such a radical and risky step. It's a diluting strategy - fine if the new combos "catch fire", but wrought with incredible downsides in that if it fails to work, then your team probably doesn't score a single goal.

Puck drops at 7:40 EST. The Habs are still a long 10 wins away to winning the greatest prize in sport - but a victory tonight will take them a considerable way towards achieving hockey glory.


So we've arrived, the probably-series-deciding Game 4 tonight at the Bell Centre. A few things happened this morning, mainly Bruins-related.

- Claude Julien shuffled many deck chairs this morning. Whether or not it reflects the Bruins actual line combinations tonight remains to be seen (it probably doesn't). Anyway, here's how it went down. With defensemen Carl Soderberg taking the morning off (optional I guess?), the Krejci line, which hasn't had its greatest series ever, was split apart, with Krejci shifted down to the second line with Marchand and Smith, Bergeron shifted up to the top line beside Lucic and Eriksson, and Iginla shifted down to the 3rd line next to Campbell and Paille. Still with me?

I wouldn't read a whole lot into the line juggling routine. It seems to me a more tactical move by Julien to mess with the Canadiens mind. I fully expect Julien to start the exact same line combos tonight.

Speaking of combos, Bruins defensive pairs this morning, with Sodenberg's absense, were Chara/Hamilton, Meszaros/Boychuck and Krug/Miller.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome, even anonymously. All I ask is that you behave, and in support of good taste, avoid the use of course language, or express opinions that are just plain silly (racist, sexist, etc.)