Almost a week ago, Eyes on the Prize's own Chris Boyle told us it was time for some perspective. After two games in which Montreal started slow and dominated most of the last 40 minutes against big, physical teams they're supposed to lose to according to the media, it's looking like Chris's patience is paying off.
After outplaying opponents in most of their first 8 games and losing 7, the Canadiens are finally starting to reap the benefits of puck possession hockey. Most notable is the increased efficiency of Erik Cole. After struggling to produce points early on, Cole is now on a three game point streak with 2 goals and 1 assist, and probably could have doubled that if he wasn't snake-bit.
The game was remarkably even, as most games against the Bruins are. Shots were 35-30 in favour of Montreal, but the shot attempts were 61-49 in favour of Boston. Mike Cammalleri led the way for both teams with 6 shots on goal.
Patrice Bergeron "scored" the first goal of the game on the powerplay for the Bruins on a fluke play at 14:05 of the first period. The only second of the game Carey Price wasn't totally focused and Tomas Plekanec won the faceoff back to his goaltender, who misplayed it and watched the puck slide into the net.
Price bounced back quickly however and kept the Habs in it as the Bruins dominated the first period. His focus and puck tracking were particularly strong tonight as the puck was bouncing all over the place in the visiting team's zone.
After merely surviving the first period, the Canadiens took it to the Bruins in the second, doubling up in shots and tying the game on a tip by Erik Cole off a Jaroslav Spacek shot at 10:27. David Desharnais set the play up with solid work in the offensive zone. His chemistry with Cole and Cammalleri is developing nicely.
The third period was the most intense hockey the Habs have played in so far this year as both teams traded chances. Montreal broke through at 10:46 when Plekanec gathered up his own rebound off of a blocked shot and slid it under a scrambling Tim Thomas.
Scoring Summary from NHL.com
In part showing possession, but also determination to win, the Canadiens blocked an insane three times more shots than the Bruins at 21-7. Spacek piled up 6 blocked shots alone. Knowing Claude Julien, he won't be pleased at the lack of sacrifice by the Bruins in their own zone.
If all that counted in hockey was puck possession, Lars Eller would be the best Montreal Canadien. His line caused the Bruins fits all night by being strong on the puck and quick to loose pucks. Once Eller learns to get his shot off quickly, the kid is going to be special.
Montreal narrowly lost the faceoff battle as they only won 49% of the draws, but newcomer Petteri Nokelainen (Nokia) managed a 64% winning rate and Plekanec was the only nature center below 50%.
The system is showing signs of rounding into form as Montreal had more takeaways (8-5) and fewer giveaways (8-12) than Boston did.
Raphael Diaz made some excellent plays tonight, including saving a clear goal and it was his best game in awhile, but I would still like to see Alexei Emelin draw in on Saturday as the Gill - Diaz pairing had a lot of trouble dealing with the heavy forechecking of Lucic and Nathan Horton.
Crazy moment of the game: P.K. Subban fell for an obvious strategy by Claude Julien to take him off the ice. After consecutive coincidental minors with Brad Marchand, the two finally fought. The beginning of the fight might end up being the low-light of Subban's career as he went for a haymaker, missed, and threw himself off his feet and onto the ice. He acquitted himself better after he got up, landing more solid punches than Marchand, and ragdolling him for awhile. If Subban knew how to throw a punch that would have been ugly, because he was clearly a lot stronger than Marchand.
Three Rich Peverley: 1) Tomas Plekanec 2) Carey Price 3)
Lots of great comments tonight on the game thread: Canadiens vs Bruins coverage
The bitter and dejected side at Stanley Cup of Chowder
The Habs faceoff against the Bruins again on Saturday, this time at the Bell Centre. The Bruins have been struggling in a similar manner to the Canadiens this year, but they still look like a playoff team to me. Maybe not the Starley Cup Chanpiars though.
Hamilton Bulldogs update: Louis Leblanc stole the show in his pro debut as he assisted on both regulation goals for Hamilton and the fired home the game winner in OT. He was a +2 and fired 5 shots. I guess his shoulder is okay.