Habs beaten by Bruins in more ways than one
Well where to begin with this one??
Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens had pretty much owned the Boston Bruins in the regular season, but this game was just plain weird.
Fights? Yeah just a few, including a "goalie brawl" between Price and Tim Thomas who both appeared to just want to get in on the fun. In general, it was reminiscent of a typical "old time" game circa 1970-1988 with 192 penalty minutes dished out nearly even between the two clubs.
But of course the final score is what really counts, and in this case it was an 8-6 decision in favor of the Bruins.
The unfortunate situation for the Canadiens is that they lost a crucial four-point game, and now sit three back of the Bruins for first in the Northeast Division. Boston also has game in hand.
It seemed to be a game that the Bruins wanted more than the visiting team, and was evident through the first 20 minutes.
The Bruins jumped to an early 2-0 lead, catching the Canadiens up ice on one and taking advantage of the poor defensive coverage on the second.
On both occasions, Scott Gomez, Andre Kostitsyn and Lars Eller were on the ice. Gomez spoke to TSN during the first intermission and praised Price for his play (16 saves to that point), acknowledged that he and his teammates needed to step up. It might have happened for some of the Canadiens, but Gomez and his linemates finished -4 each on the night. Coach Jacques Martin had seen enough from that trio, and benched them for most of the third period. Somewhere Jack Todd is chucking to himself, much like Kostitsyn was spotted while his ass was bolted to the bench.
The second period saw the Canadiens rally back , but by the end of the period both teams had scored four goals apiece. It was clearly the Bruins night as they simply brought the physical game to the Canadiens, winning the battles in the corners and laying out 27 hits to the Canadiens 21. You know this is a tough team when Mark Recchi can still dish out four hits.
The Bruins are also a team that will go to the net on any opportunity, something the Canadiens forwards are often criticized for not doing. It was noted on Twitter that a Habs scout was spotted in Edmonton tonight, and that Dave Semenko (former tough guy and now a scout) for the Edmonton Oilers) was spotted at the Bell Centre on Sunday. Could those Dustin Penner rumors be more than just that?
The other side of that is that the Canadiens allowed it to happen the way they did. When Price has to take a roughing minor against Milan Lucic, in his own defense after being crashed, you know there is something wrong. A lack of emotion is also a question posed to the Canadiens, especially Martin who shows absolutely nothing from the bench and really needs to in a game like that one.
Things didn't really change in the third period, as the teams each scored a pair of goals. It clearly wasn't Montreal's night, and you have to wonder what they will have left in the tank after a flight home to face the New York Islanders on Thursday.
"We came out slow, and they took advantage," was how Canadiens captain Brian Gionta summed it up. "A lot of important points were on the line, and you saw what happened."
It was the first time that Carey Price allowed eight goals in a game in his career. To be honest, I thought Jacques Martin should have pulled the franchise goalie after the second period. Sure it was still a two-goal game, but at this point the team in front was not ready. Martin likely felt he was handcuffed though, with Alex Auld likely to start Thursday. But why not give Auld a period and have a possible option to start Price against New York?
If there was one positive that the Canadiens can build from, it was that they scored four power play goals in ten opportunities. The Habs had been on a 0-for-22 stretch with the man advantage. A honorable mention goes to Yannick Weber, who finally scored his first NHL goal of the season.
Opinions on the game from the side with the temporary bragging rights at Stanley Cup of Chowder
Oh, and cue the Gainey bashers: Michael Ryder had two goals, one called back and 3 takeaways against his former team.
Another reason I hate the man between the benches: I don't like he idea of the TV networks using a guy between the benches to talk to the coaches during the game. Pierre McGuire approaching Claude Julien after the brawl midway in the second period had to be the most inappropriate time I've ever seen this happen. Can you imagine someone like him going to Fred Shero, Don Cherry, or Scotty Bowman in a situation like that in the '70s?
Three Stars: 1. Nathan Horton 2. Milan Lucic 3. Michael Ryder