Saturday, 10 October 2015

Game Two: Habs vs. Bruins


- Bruins really with nothing to lose in this period, so I expect them to come out with reckless abandon.

- Goodness, the Galchenyuk is a turnover generating machine. Bruins totally pinned in their zone.

- Spooner with five minute major for hit from behind on Flynn. So little discipline on this Bruins team. They have so little margin for error. This is just a killer.

- Bruins basically serving this game on a plate to the Habs via stupid penalty after stupid penalty, and even with 90 seconds of two man advantage, Habs can't even gain the Bruins zone. How is somebody not fired for this?

- If the Bruins find a way of tying this game, I will be pointing fingers at Montreal speciality units. I won't be alone.

- Boston seems to be wanting to return to its Big Bad roots, but man, their discipline is just horrid. Yet another penalty, and yet another hopeless Habs powerplay on the way.

- Yup. Hopeless. If this man advantage was a criminal offence, it would qualify as a war crime.

- A win tonight, but again, underwhelming. The Bruins are a terrible team this year, and play without any kind of discipline. Boston did everything possible to lose tonight, and still, the Habs managed to not win with ease. So many red flags popping up right now with regards to how this Montreal team plays, especially its speciality units.

- Mike Condon has done a pretty decent Carey Price impersonation tonight. Habs ridiculously blessed in net.


- Eller makes it 2-0, off a nice pass by Semin. The Habs second goal is an excellent example of how hockey games are won in the neutral zone, as the Bruins make a poor pass attempt near the red line, and provide the Habs with easy transition into the Boston zone.

- Petry continues to do an astonishingly good job in covering up for his woeful defensive partner - at both ends of the ice.

- Bruins are way, way too passive defensively - Habs are basically bringing the puck in on Rask at will. Lots of growing pains here for Boston.

- Eriksson backhand chip over Price, Bergeron clearly contact on Price in the crease. Still 2-0.

- Fascinating sequence. Goal was waived off, Julien then challenged the ruling that Price was bumped, which was upheld. However, previous to the play, it looked very clearly as though the Bruins had knocked the puck in after it had crossed the blue line (offside), so - if I understand the rules, Therrien could have challenged that, which means we could have, in theory, had a double reverse on that play. Clear as mud?

- Galchenyuk line is mowing the Bruins over. More poor puck possession by Boston, another bad turnover in their zone, and Galchenyuk with a sweet feet to Eller for wheelhouse blast past Rask. 3-0.

- Alexei Emelin once again proving his worthlessness, with a stupid interference penalty, with his team in command of the game. If the Bruins score on their powerplay, it would only seem just.

- Emelin is a disgrace to his uniform. Too bad his coach doesn't feel the same way.

- Beleskey with a the benefit of a bounce, deflecting a pass off a sprawling Petry and past Price who was moving the other direction in anticipation of the pass. 3-1.

- Not sure if the 2nd period was particularly impressive for the Habs, but more an indictment of the big challenges the Bruin face this year - lots of NHL inexperience on their roster, especially on their blue line. That inexperience was pretty glaring in the period, as the Bruins were guilty of many critical neutral and defensive zone turnovers, which helped the Canadiens tack two more on the scoreboard. There's no good reason for the Canadiens to not leave Boston with two more points in their pockets.


- So, the big question tonight, can the Habs look as mediocre against the Bruins as they did against the Leafs on Wednesday? Leafs got their clocks cleaned last night against a team that actually plays hockey with structure.

- Looks like Maxime Talbot will start his first game of the season tonight. Final lineups haven't quite been announced.

- Julien starts the game with his 4th line. Perhaps this means he's looking for a grinding-type win.

- Habs crash Rask off the power play, and Desharnais pushes the puck on his third whack. Habs off to quick lead.

- Therrien stubbornly sticking to deploying Emelin first PK unit. Hopefully Petry will be able to do all the necessary butt-covering.

- Emelin with a perfect screen on Price. Shot his the post. Bullet dodged.

- Bruins taking some pretty clunky penalties, if this team can't muster a good PK, they're going to have an even bigger disaster of a season ahead than my 15th spot prediction.

- Habs 2nd powerplay a disorganized mess - too many poor outlet passes, unnecessary shoot-ins from the neutral zone with the Bruins PK essentially surrendering the line, and headless chicken passing in the Boston zone. NEW AND IMPROVED.

- I suppose credit where credit is due, Bruins have had very few opportunities to set up in the Montreal zone. It's been a pretty quiet period so far for Price.

- Really like the Habs willingness to crash the Bruins net so far in this period - it's clearly getting under Boston's skin, and the officials, at least so far, have been willing to allow the aggression.

- It's been a contrast in discipline so far. Bruins have been trying mightily to provoke the Habs into taking stupid penalties, but so far nobody's biting.

- Pacioretty looks strong again tonight. Two high percentage dangerous shots so far, if that continues, Rask will eventually be beaten.

- Pastrnak had Price dead to rights, with Carey flat on his belly and a gaping net. Price with a crazy save to keep Boston off the board. You can't attach a value to that kind of net minding.

- Kevan Miller tossed into a corner like a rag doll from a Fleischman bodycheck, if you can believe it. More examples of the defensive challenges facing this Boston team.

- Why is a guy as big as Smith-Pelly so easily worked off the puck?

- Habs 4th line looks pretty iffy in their own zone, really struggling to cover passing lanes. Bruins nearly tie it up with Black shirts being allowed to set up wherever they please to receive the puck.

- Subban with two horrendous plays in his own zone in front of his net so far in this period, each time bailed out by terrific saves by Carey Price. Not Subban's finest period of hockey.

- Looked at the replay, sure looks like Marchand slew footed Subban, causing him to fall and give the puck away in front of Price. Officials missed it.

- Habs cruised through the first half of the period, but the Bruins took over the second half, with Price needing to make more than a few tough saves to keep the game 1-0. Boston with a more physical approach to the period, which paid dividends as the frame progressed. Habs were also hampered by some poor shifts by its 4th line, which helped give Boston a definite boost in momentum.


How did it come so undone, so quickly?

You know, it wasn't very long ago - heck, it was only a couple of dozen months that the Boston Bruins were a team that was a force to be reckoned with. They were the de facto 1st place Conference team - the big Bruins whom many had chosen as the presumed eastern representative in the Stanley Cup Final.

A couple of funny things happened along the way which ruined the parade. A guy named Peter Chiarelli and this thing called the salary cap.

See, the Bruins were, not too long ago, an organization that was heaped with talent, especially young talent. Johnny Boychuk, Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, just to name a few.

It looked good - really good, back in 2009, when Chiarelli dealt Phil Kessel to the Leafs in a deal that in return, resulted in the Bruins getting Seguin and Hamilton. Not too shabby.

But then Chiarelli, who was once Boston's general manager, began to make some terrible, terrible mistakes in evaluating his best talent, and how he spent a finite amount of money to pay that talent.

First, Chiarelli began to dole out huge contracts with sums to above average players, that would normally go to proven elite talent. David Krejci a $7.2M AAV, Tuukka Rask a $7.0M AAV, the again Zdeno Chara $6.9M AAV, and then big sums of money thrown at free agents like Jarome Iginla, whose bonuses pushed the Bruins' cap up nearly $6 million, even though Iginla's base was a mere $1.8M. Within the span of a few months, the Bruins went from Stanley Cup champions, to a team that was blowing the League's salary cap.

The consequences were huge. Because Chiarelli lost control of his cap, the Bruins were forced to unload some of their key talent, resulting in the Bruins shipping out Boychuk, Seguin, and this spring, Hamilton, in return for some midling prospects, but fundamentally, in return for cap relief.

The net result? A Bruins roster that's awfully thin, especially on its defense, which now rests on the shoulders of the overaged and often injured Chara, and ... well ... Torey Krug. And ... Adam McQuaid. Yeah. Not good.

The Bruins are a model of when the front office fails to heed the dangers of not carefully managing the salary cap. The consequences can be profound, and can set a club's competitiveness back years. Boston is now facing a season of many losses, although they will benefit from the token of a high draft pick in 2016. At least the Bruins have that to play for.

So tonight, the Bruins will host the Habs. The aforementioned Chara won't be in the lineup, so the Habs, offensively hampered as they may be, will have a pretty decent opportunity to light up the lamp more than a few times tonight.

The Canadiens will be going with the exactly same lineup, offensively and defensively, as they did on opening night in Toronto.

Puck drop at 7:15 EST.

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