Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Rask (W)
Habs goalscorers: None
Opposition goalscorers: Fraser
"Desharnais to Pacioretty with some speed. Rask's got it..." Was this the moment Pacioretty opened his curtains a crack and realized that the sun had risen on the playoffs? This was everything a classic Pacioretty goal is, except the goal of course (A game without goals allows one to highlight things like this). More important than any save or blocked shot/pass in what was ultimately a loss was this play, which if it does invigorate Pacioretty would be most meaningful going forward.
Michael BournivalThe little winger scooped from Colorado impressed in this one. On the basis of regulation time, he was the rookie of the game. Clearly endowed with good speed, we got to see a little more of his anticipation and instinct here. Next up, I'd like to see one or two more patient steps to add weight to the free shots he's getting.
Lars EllerEller is the handful that Boston can't get to grips with right now. They are trying a great many things to counter him and he seems to have an answer for each. His most conspicuous play was another breakaway pass, which had it been to Bourque would have been an undefended chance. Winning battles along the boards was the real name of his game in this one and it was his line that inflicted most of the damage on the shot dominance story the Bruins were writing. Where he and the line did best was to activate Markov and the points, something the others never have the time nor the possession to really do with regularity.
David DesharnaisHaving been under a blanket for far too long, Desharnais showed signs of struggling free. Iy was one of his shots (ultimately deflected by a defender) that I thought most dangerous. It's no fault of David's that Pacioretty has lost his mojo, and no mistake to minimize the harm that causes the team. He fed Pacioretty on one glorious open chance and then again on the play of the game shot -- he seems to be mindful that waking the big man is a big job of his. If Desharnais is squirming from his fetters, let's hope he continues to bring Pacioretty along so he can take his head out of wherever he's been keeping it since the playoffs began.
Josh GorgesI personally don't think the Bruins did a very good job of neutralizing Subban. Perhaps they did. It seemed to me he was inflicting his own wounds. Maybe he was just bound for a non-heroic effort. I credit Gorges for often being there when Subban did make a mental slip and for keeping the train on the rails for much of the early part of the game.
Andrei MarkovThis game was actually a defensive exemplar for the Habs. They rarely play any team to a standstill. Even allowing for goalposts, the good scoring chances were down. But it seemed to come at a great cost up front. That is except when Andrei Markov was allowed to direct matters. He didn't get his even strength point yet, but he was in on most if not all of the hood chances for his team in this one. The one regret is that pass Vanek had marked for him, which he left on the table. Those plays with long passes and pivoting out of position defenders can be seen on highlight goal reels every night of the season. We focus on many breakouts in the wings. I think Markov has one in him and he was looking just nearly ready to make it.
Carey PriceEffectively shutout hockey in a very difficult situation (trying to pin the champions). Can't ask for much more.It goes without saying that he kept his team in this one. And once again, I would say he outplayed Rask, as the chances he faced were of better quality. Strangely, I would also say this wasn't his best game. Or at least it was not the game in which he was called to be his best. The Bruins nominally had 12 chances from dangerous positions, but most were compound chances, so much of the game was quiet as can be for Price. If Price continues to play like he did in this game, and every game in this series, the Bruins will have to continue to rely on luck to win. Can that last forever?
Figures right? It seems to me there's a long roll call of players who can say they have scored their first career goal on Carey Price. It's probably just my perception, I still had a bad feeling about Matt Fraser, minor-league scorer coming in for Jordan Caron.
Figures also that the first game in which the Canadiens effectively outshoot, and definitely outchance the Bruins that it would be the boys in white and yellow that would win.
Figures that a comment from Julien was all it took to turn out the rule book for 6 periods. Figures that Emelin is penalized for boarding when the standard of boarding was set at anything goes by Iginla. Figures that the goal would be scored on a puck not blown dead in the crease after quick whistles had been such a help.
Still, there are many more positives to take from this game than negatives. The Canadiens outplayed the Bruins for long, long stretches. Price was steady as can be. The Canadiens didn't really let up many good chances against. Subban was able to dominate even under new tactics. Pacioretty may be coming to life. And if someone could think on Vanek's wavelength, he'd be influential in the goal column.
The temptation after a loss is to make changes. I wouldn't change for the loss. But there could be changes made based on the series moving back to Boston and what is to be anticipated from the Bruins after they feel they have the initiative back in their own building. Bouillon back from rest, in for Murray could be a big consideration. He outplayed the Bruins in Game #1. The Vanek/Pacioretty scenario could be adjusted, or not.
And I wonder if maybe Daniel Briere can be involved a bit more, always keeping in mind to favour him in the offensive zone. I am not saying he will star. But he could do what Matt Fraser did for the Bruins and force a shift in focus. he's played low minutes thus far, but found holes.
As the series moves back, should we be nervous or confident? I'm not sure I can answer. I'll say this: the Canadiens and Bruins have not made home ice the issue in this series, so why should it become the issue now? Each game has pivoted on very little and each could have been won by either party really. The Canadiens need to be mindful that this represents some success with their approach, as they stretch the President's trophy winners to the very limit.
As we know, they have yet to score off a Bruin, a bounce off the ice, a cheap scramble. Give enough time, and this will come too.