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Canadiens vs. Bruins game recap: Spiritless

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In the past, even the bad Montreal teams got up for the games against Boston, and gave spirited efforts. This game didn't even have spirit going for it.

NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Montreal Canadiens has been struggling. They are 2-6-2 in their last 10, and the last game against Boston didn't go so well, what with Phillip Danault taking a shot to the head and all. This time, with Jonathan Drouin on the wing, and in Claude Julien's first game back in Boston, they hoped for a better outcome.

It certainly began well, when Jakub Jerabek banked a puck off Zdeno Chara and past Tuukka Rask less than a minute in for the first of the game, and his first of the season.

Montreal then held the Bruins off the shot board for the next four minutes or so, launching four pucks on target of their own. Boston's first shot came about six minutes in, but they had some good zone time nonetheless.

David Pastrnak tied it up at 6:50 on a tic-tac-toe play that saw absolutely no opposition from the Canadiens.

The Habs responded with a will, as Drouin, Alex Galchenyuk, and Jacob de la Rose had a good shift, buzzing around Rask on the next shift, followed up by a high-energy shift from the third line.

The minutes that followed saw a fairly free-flowing game, with Boston tying the shots up at six. Price was called upon to stop Brad Marchand at point-blank range, which he did, as well as repelling a couple of others, as the Bruins began to control the play.

With just under three to go, Price got caught out of the net against Riley Nash, but Boston was unable to get control of the puck and the Habs cleared the front of the net. The Habs got lucky again when Noel Acciari rang the cross-bar with roughly a minute left in the first.

The Habs ended the period with possession of the puck, but found themselves out-shot 12-6, and after the first couple of minutes or so, largely outplayed as well.

The first minute of the second looked good from the Habs, but that did not last, as play went spectacularly downhill, with the puck bouncing off Drouin in his attempt to play defence and into the net.

Boston really put their foot on the gas after the five-minute mark, the puck only kept out of the net by some lucky defensive scrambles, and a few more saves from Price.

Montreal drew a power play with 11:24 to go in the second, and got it to a five-on-three moments later, drawn by the speed of Drouin on a break toward to the net. The Habs were able to establish zone time, but in a very non-threatening style that failed to put anything past Rask during the 1:09 on the two-man advantage. The remaining five-on-four was also killed off with limited danger.

Max Pacioretty was the most dangerous looking player on an otherwise weak advantage, though Galchenyuk also showed a flash or two.

Image credit: HockeyStats.ca

Boston created absolute havoc in the offensive zone after their successful kill, but the Habs escaped on that particular shift, and the ones that followed, despite the fact that Boston really should have been leading by considerably more than one goal.

Montreal took a penalty at 18:48, but Boston was unable to beat Price, and the period came to an end, shots 25-13 for the Bruins, but the score just 2-1.

De la Rose took a hooking penalty 2:41 into the third, and though Price held down the fort early, making a big save on Pastrnak, Marchand made it 3-1 on the power play, once again standing between Price and his defence.

Montreal responded with energy, gaining momentum with a number of consecutive offensive-zone shifts, only for Byron Froese to take an hooking penalty in the Bruins end. The Habs escaped unscathed, but couldn't counter Boston enough to pick up another goal.

An empty-netter from Ryan Spooner with 2:37 to go put the seal on a dreadful night, and in addition to their 4-1 victory, the Bruins outshot Montreal 32-22, claiming a second victory over the Habs in a five-day span.

Thoughts

  • Bad. That was bad. I don't know if I'd go so far as to say it's the worst Habs game I've ever seen, but it was bad.
  • The first part of the first shift of that second-period five-on-three was good, but the rest of it was absolutely non-threatening, while the penalty killing in general was disastrous.
  • For a game that was tied, or only 2-1 for a majority of the time, it was remarkable how out of reach it felt.
  • I don't think I've ever seen Lehkonen be so much of a non-factor before, and JDLR as first-line centre was a bad experiment cut mercifully short.
  • The rivalry really has burnt out, hasn't it? It was just another game, with none of the hatred, or even a bit of tension simmering away under the surface just waiting to erupt at the slightest provocation. Even the really bad teams of the past got up against Boston — because it was Boston, and the principal of the thing mattered.
  • I'm not at all keen on the trade Pacioretty/Galchenyuk/Price/Petry/etc. bandwagon, because I don't think they're the problem here. But the Habs really do have to do something. Forty-five games in, and this is all they muster up against Boston??