Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Thomas (W)
Habs goalscorers: Gionta, Subban, Weber, Desharnais, Pacioretty (2)
Opposition goalscorers: Marchand, Seidenberg, McQuaid, Ryder (2), Lucic (2), Horton
I don't really like fights in hockey. I don't mind the odd time when players drop the gloves to stick up for teammates or to send a message, but on a night like tonight I didn't really like what I saw. I can't, however, not choose a fight for in here; simply because I can't remember much else right now. On a night when it was clear for all to see that we aren't built to fight (or be as dirty and cheap as Boston) I liked the fact that calm-old Ben Pouliot laid the nicest punch of them all. Sure he was only fighting Krejci, but a punch (a knock-out in hockey terms) like that deserves a mention. It was an irrelevant play amongst a bunch of meaningless plays, but it stood out to me as the one big Habs-better-than-Bruins moment on the night.
The kid was quite possibly playing for NHL life tonight. He is a small, offensive centre that isn't so great in his own end. So, to be put on the 4th (and later 3rd) line with a certain defensive responsibility against a good (and big/dirty) team was going to be a challenge. I think, though, that he passed this test. He played with heart and made things happen in their end. In all it was a goal, an assist, 56% on face-offs and an even rating.
Players that keep playing until the end, no matter what the score, will always have a friend here. That is exactly what Max did. He didn't give up or stop trying, but instead went for goals. Is it selfish to try and score when the game is out of reach? Not at all. One should always be trying to score and what better practice than to do just that in any situation. That all said he scored 2 PP goals in the final frame to up his season totals to 8.
After a weak first period it was our captain who set the tone early in the second. Within 8 minutes the game was tied and he was at the heart of both goals (goal, assist). He also led the team in shots and happened to be the only Hab to finish with a positive rating.
Yannick Weber - Game Puck
If you don't think playoff goals count (like the NHL) then Weber scored his first NHL goal tonight. Of course I can see their argument: why would we count stats from the only time of the year that matters? He also picked up 2 assists and now has 10 points which isn't that bad for him at all, in fact that is a 30+ point season pace. I can't say he played well in his own end (did anyone?), but do like that we are getting contribution from him as it certainly adds to our back-end.
I liked PK tonight and felt bad that he is a perceived target around the league and now must fight pretty much wherever he goes. Stupid because apart from playing with a lot of spirit and a big mouth I can't say that he is that bad. If being young and those things is enough to be a target (it clearly is) then I guess watch out. The ironic thing is that the people who say that he has no respect are the very players who lack the most class (Richards, Lucic, Horton etc.) and who think being dirty is the way to 'teach' players the 'code'. Anyway, Subban narrowly misses this dome because I think that Wis played a better game, even though I have more to say about PK. James was instrumental in 3 of our goals (2 assists) and was only on the ice for 2 of theirs. We certainly have missed that positive contribution.
Was this the type of game that goalies can't do well in (fired-up offence, poor defence)? Or, were goalies the cause? I realize that Carey made some big saves and kept us in it early, but I am thinking that had he played his best, even behind our porous D, we could have won. In fact, I think that this was Price's worst game, by far, on the season. 8 goals, despite making many good saves, is a horrible result. Martin probably should have pulled him after 4 or 5, but I guess assumed that it was just one of those nights. This game alone cost him .004 in Save % (now .918) and .11 in GAA (now 2.43) as he falls back towards the middle of the pack. I, however, am not worried about him because of one bad game and am actually glad that if your stats take a beating they take them all at once. He'll be ready to go next game and can rest assured as he wasn't the only reason that we lost tonight, far from it.
I can deal with a loss, I can deal with poor D and poor goaltending. One thing that I hate seeing, though, is hockey like we saw tonight. Sure, there were a lot of goals and that is exciting, but what are the refs thinking letting things carry on like this? In all there were 192 minutes of penalties! That is 3+ games worth. There were two full-out, everyone-in type fights and even the goalies got in on it. This to me is not exciting, no, it is far from it. All this really does is put players like Pyatt, Spacek, Pouliot, Pacioretty, Gionta and others at the risk of injury. For what? What is gained by playing like this? Now, don't get me wrong as I don't think that this was the Habs' fault. No, this was Boston's doing. Old Fat-Head and the other brain-dead folk on that team want to intimidate the Habs and fail to see that scoring 8 goals is as intimidating as anything else. There will now be a cry in Montreal that we need to get tougher (otherwise known as the February toughness cry) and you can bet your bottom dollar that Gauthier will give in. That means we'll land a useless player (remember Laraque and how much we loved him) at the expense of picks, prospects or talented players. If we can all agree that Boston didn't win tonight because of toughness (I am pretty sure it was the 8 goals) then we can all ask do we need to be tougher? Chicago, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Washington are far from being as dirty and tough as Philly or Boston (0 cups in 35 years, 4 in 70 playing like this), but their strategies seem to work. We can beat this Boston team regularly enough (and we have been doing for the past 5 years) that I really urge everyone to calm down about being tough, about the need for toughness in the playoffs. What a team 'needs' in the playoffs isn't as simple as scoring or goaltending or toughness, no, it is different for each team. The Habs right now have a very goo team and we shouldn't let one stupid game (in which we managed 6 goals, 4 on the PP, of our own) affect our plans and our design.