MONTREAL 4, BOSTON 2:
- Habs and Bruins through 40 minutes. I'm not buying the "Boston has been better" narrative. Not for a second:
- In other news, Galchenyuk might not get 10 minutes of ice time tonight, which is kind of insane, and will most certainly not help the Habs in their cause.
- Smith-Pelly on the 2nd line "experiment" needs to end. He does a pretty good job maintaining puck pressure, but doesn't do his line mates, especially Galchenyuk, any favours in making himself a passing option. Smith-Pelly just doesn't have the anticipatory tools to be on anything other than the 4th line.
- Missed open net chances by Bruins forwards tonight (Krejci and Talbot). Let's see if that comes back to haunt them later.
- Pacioretty has been quite for a while, but he storms in off the rush, and gets four shots on Gustavsson, before Plekanec puts in the rebound. But Gallagher was in the crease, will he be nailed again for goaltender interference, costing the Habs another goal?
- Chris Lee the call, goal is disallowed because Gallagher deemed to have interfered. Thing is, what could Gallagher do? Chara was hammering Gallagher from behind into Gustavsson. Where could Gallagher go?
- Bruins stacking their line in defence of the Habs rush. Seems a little early ... but so far, so good.
- Sweet, so sweet. Galchenyuk with fantastic work deep in the Bruins zone, fires a shot on Gustuvvson, who gives up a juicy rebound to Eller. Tie game. Habs, who've been the better team overall, finally tie the game.
- Habs 4th line just had a fantastic shift, hemming Bruins in their zone. Momentum all Montreal at the moment. 10 minutes left.
- Krejci with three stupid penalties tonight, none dumber than the crosscheck he just got called for on Plekanec. Two minutes left, two minute powerplay.
- Bruins live off the powerplay, DIE off the penalty kill. I think we said that already tonight. Desharnais off the rebound (juicy) by a great Galchenyuk shot. Krecji one man wrecking crew tonight, against his own team. Bruins have just a minute left to tie this.
- Paciroetty. Empty net. Game over. Habs were the better team, and overtook the Bruins down the 3rd period stretch. Great win tonight for the Canadiens. Another notch on the belt. So awesome.
- Game ends on a garbage note as the classless Julien send outs career human trash Rinaldo who steams after Beaulieu, leaves his feet and extends his elbow for a head shot. Beaulieu, righteously, puts his arms up, resulting in his stick hitting Rinaldo's face. Chris Lee, an awful referee, gives Beaulieu a match penalty. The Bruins are pathetic. Claude Julien is pathetic. Chris Lee is pathetic.
- Habs and Bruins through 20 minutes, adjusted to exclude the wretched penalty calls:
- Just to be consistent, Luxmore, who's had quite the night, with a terrible hooking penalty on Krejci.
- Bruins live off the man advantage, and die off the man advantage - specifically killing penalties. Plekanec finishes off a pretty three way passing play to beat Gustavasson blocker side. Bruins PK pretty bad covering the passing lanes. Game tied.
Now Luxmore misses a high stick on Fleischmann, only five feet away from the official. Players from both benches are all over Luxmore, who's just having an awful, awful night.
- And icing on the cake, Luxmore calls Mitchell for a slight cross to Miller's shoulder, Miller going down like he was shot. The League needs to do an intervention with this official.
- On resulting powerplay, Krecji somehow misses a totally wide open net off a rebound. Condon totally out of position. Four feet of completely open twine. Krecji misses. Karma.
- Bruins aren't called for a clear-cut hook, and seconds later, Vatrano scores his NHL first goal, with Emelin doing a nice screen on Condon. At this point, I'm ready to just throw my hands up.
- Gustavsson is a bit of a wanderer in net. Either going after a puck shot in, or even in his crease. Surprised he isn't burned more often.
- Crazy given his flailing style, that Gustavsson has managed to hang around the NHL all these years. His success keeping the puck out really depends on a lot of luck.
- Terrible too many men call by referee TJ Luxmore. No, it wasn't Chris Lee.
- This Bruins powerplay is crazy. Bergeron scores, his 5th of the season. All of his goals have been on the man advantage. Off a terrible penalty call, no less. 1-0.
- Half way through the first period, Bruins' attack is pretty meek. Habs defence for the most part, is anticipating the rush, and breaking up most of Boston's zone entries. The Bruins truly are a team that live and die off their powerplay.
- Belesky with clear-cut snow on Condon, and officials give Plekanec a penalty. Okay, then.
- Habs kill the man advan ... never mind. Markov now nailed for a slash. Habs doing their best to muff this up, playing exactly into Boston's biggest (lone?) strength.
- Saw a reply of the penalty. Miler with a grotesque dive, and the official (Luxmore) totally got suckered. The officiating in the period has been abysmal.
- All the bad officiating has given the Bruins all the momentum, beside the fact they've failed their past two powerplays. At this point, the Habs want to just get through the 1st period, and start the slate clean for the 2nd.
- Emelin welcomes Vatrano with a crushing check into the boards. You can get away with that kind of thing in the Juniors, but not in the bigs, kid.
- Given how potent the Bruins man advantage has been this year, and how terrible the officiating was in the first period, Habs will be pleased with the 1-0 score. The Bruins still don't pose much of an offensive threat at even strength, although their forwards did a very nice job bottling up the neutral zone, which stifled many a Habs transition attempts. Still, 1-0 is not a big deal.
GAME PREVIEW: SORRY BOSTON, YOU'RE STILL A TERRIBLE HOCKEY TEAM
Hey, check out those Boston Bruins!! 6 wins! 5th place in their Division. Not nearly the 2nd-to-last-place team yours truly predicted at the start of the season. Boston is GOOD.
Well, you could argue that the Bruins aren't a bad team, but then, you'd be wrong. The Bruins are still a bad team.
Sure, Boston does have more wins than regulation losses. Sure, the Bruins have the 2nd rated offence in the NHL. Sure, the Bruins have the top rated powerplay in the NHL. And sure, what I've just mentioned is kind of the big problem with Boston right now.
To explain what I mean, let's back up a little. The Bruins got their season off to a pretty terrible start - losing three straight to Winnipeg, Montreal and Tampa Bay by pretty resounding final scores (outscored 16-7). But then the Bruins went on a nice little 7 game streak, posting a 6-0-1 record. Not bad!
But who did the Bruins beat over that 7 game period? Teams like the Colorado Avalanche, the Arizona Coyotes (twice), the Philadelphia Flyers and the Florida Panthers. In other words, Boston wasn't exactly generating victories over the cream of the League's crop.
Still, the Bruins did beat Tampa Bay (whom are off to a slow start), and New York Islanders. Those are two pretty good hockey teams.
How did they do it? By riding what has been a remarkable wave of powerplay success. The Bruins, through 12 games, have a powerplay scoring at a 35% success rate. That's unbelievably high, with unbelievable being the key word here not only because they're nearly 8% points higher than the second rated powerplay (Dallas), but also because 35% simply isn't a sustainable figure. To give you perspective, the all-time mark for powerplay success was the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, who had a 31.88% success rate. The 2015-16 Boston Bruins are not the 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens, who were arguably the single greatest hockey team ever constructed in the history of hockey.
Anyway, recall that 6-0-1 streak? During that time, the Bruins scored 32 goals. Of those 32, 8 were scored with the man advantage, meaning that even while winning, Boston is dependant on their powerplay scoring at least 1/4 of all their goals.
The powerplay has helped bolster the Burins to the number 2 rated offence in the NHL, scoring at a 3.58 GPG clip. Take away Boston's powerplay goals, however, and their GPG drops to 2.33, which would drop their offence ranking from #2, down to #23.
So it's all a house of cards - and it shouldn't be a surprise that the Bruins has lose their past two games against a couple of good hockey teams, the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars.
Tonight, the Bruins are faced with the task of taking on the very best team in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens. The Habs continue to roll along, putting together a pretty impressive win over the New York Islanders a couple of nights ago. The Habs, in addition to leading the League, also have the League's #3 penalty kill, with an 89.8% efficiency.
Tonight's game shouldn't post too much of a problem for this Habs team. Not as long as they can stay out of the penalty box. Stay out of the box, and you take away the Bruins best, if not only, weapon.
Lineups tonight? No changes for the Habs. For the Bruins, their lines will look like this:
Whooops? No Rask tonight? Probably because he's been a career disaster playing in the Bell Centre. Gotta roll those dice, if you're the Boston Bruins.
Puck drops at 7:10 EST.