Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Rask (L)
Habs goalscorers: Weise, Pacioretty, Briere
Opposition goalscorers: Iginla
CBC cheapened the play almost as soon as it happened, but that battle won and pass from Briere to a wide open Dale Weise was a beautiful goal. You find yourself in these moments wishing for Pierre McGuire. It epitomized all that the Canadiens did to win this series: the positive approach, the speed, the risks, the quickness. Don't tell me Claude Julien didn't wish he could employ Daniel Briere on his 4th line instead of the meatheads so overrated by Bosotn media. This goal sounded the end. When all pregame plans went out the window: and the "not again" crept back in to Bruins thoughts.
Max PaciorettyAs the guy who had to eat his words about making Pacioretty a defenceman, I do fancy myself a more astute reader of his body language than many (now -- not before, obviously). The Play of Game 4 was Pacioretty's shot, the Dome in Game 5 was Pacioretty's, the breakout came in Game 6. A lucky guess, actually. How important that it did happen though. When Pacioretty lit up, you could see the ice given back to his linemates. In this game, Max was a stick hold away from a perfect game. His goal was pure goalscorer stuff (Oh, how the Bruins would relish one of those (Kessel, Seguin, ahem), his rushes came with purpose and his shots with sting. Otherwise, he was making those plays that made him look like a defensive candidate.
Daniel BriereMichel Therrien's secret weapon was used to ultimate effect in this one. On the PP he was actually pretty poor, but how can anybody fault being the primary man in two goals over 9 shifts. Hand it to Briere for being the mature contributor too. One gets the sure sense that he makes no peep about ice time and instead relishes this playoff run and the contributions he can make when called onto the ice. I wouldn't necessarily play him more. But keep the pinch hitter in that dugout.
David DesharnaisDavid was all over the ice tonight. It's hard to believe that a team reputed to be so big and so bad could be run so ragged by a top line centre of the smallest possible stature. Our little ECHL MVP and 3-time Frank Selke trophy winner (most sportsmanlike in QMJHL) deserves all the credit he ever gets. To go from playing in Cincinnati to dominating Zdeno Chara in a Game #7 is astounding (it beats the fact that Matt Fraser played in the AHL). He makes the dome because his contributions were so pivotal to the Habs. He broke the back of the Bruins with his linemates on the shift that wouldn't leave their zone until Pacioretty silenced the crowd. The pass on that goal among the best of the playoffs so far. After that, he just ate minutes with his feet, seemingly always first to a puck, never letting the Bruins reeling defenders off the hook.
Alexei EmelinA sound game from our prodigal pick of 2003. What really stood out for me in his game tonight was speed. I had forgotten that he had any, but on a few occasions he bailed out a defensive lapse with a burst. If Lucic was quiet all series, look no further than the anti-Komisarek for a reason. Subban and Lucic did battle, Emelin just put him in a stupor. Such a key battle to win, because after that the Bruins fall off in force quickly. I would be remiss not to mention his 7 hits, which led both teams in a gritty match.
PK SubbanPK didn't do it the way I anticipated. He impressed, nonetheless with the performance that was required from a team with a defendable lead. We probably all take for granted the little things he does well: skating, crisp passing, outmuscling. It all contributes to making life easier across the board for all, and for making wins against powerful teams like Boston possible. He did have his flair as well. He was on for the game-winning goal and played a part as everyone did in keeping that pressure alive on the Boston icing. He had a signature moment on the PP at one point stepping inside for a sure wrister. Something was holding him back from the shot -- not quite sure what. Anyway, he knows he can be a hero through anonymity now too, and what a lesson that has been for him.
Carey Price - Game PuckAt some point this season, Carey Price decided that winning was really what he wanted to do. The transformation that has gone from calm about everything to sublimely serene has been sensational. His ability as a technician is now put to full used as it is propelled by a singular desire to reach the highest goals. I guess being around all those champions at the Olympics did him some real good. In this game, it really was just Price being Price, making pretty difficult saves look routine. This was not a frantic battle, more a day at the office. He made his life easier by already being in the heads of key Bruins: forcing tight hands on sticks and skyward shots with saves he made more than a week ago. He gets the Game Puck as recognition, but he can share it with his whole team if he likes.
CommentsI had a strange calm come over me today. I'm not always calm for these games. I was completely on edge for the early games of the series. I don't think I sensed anything. I think it was just the confidence instilled by a team that could have really won 5 of the previous 6 games, and managed to play several different styles throughout the match-up.
One thing I am never calm about is saying things about the opposition within the matchup. I dread making a big deal of something that ends up being part of a losing series for the Habs. So with the Bruins behind us, I can say Hallelujah for that. Strangely, the desire to deride them is fading too. But do go have a chuckle at Masshole Sports and the ridiculous world in which these people live. Will someone from Pittsburgh (see 3rd post after quite some scrolling through typical eloquence) please make note of how dirty the Boston bed is?
Another note is the CBC: WTF? This is the last year the network may carry choice games in the early rounds of the playoffs (so might be a while before they show another Canadian team. We don't ask for a Habs bias, but Boston boosting was way over the top. The final straws for me were Don Cherry segueing to another useless point of self-reverence by showing the sickening hit that broke Pacioretty's neck (and calling it, and I quote, a "beauty"). Getting a homer like Adam Oates who ends every statement from the voice of Boston player added nothing to that already tedious segment. Bring on Strombo already!
What can we say now about our team. The Dome is Not Enough. Each and every player in this game and the last one played with the greatest level of desire and commitment I can remember from the Habs in a very long time. In the past, individuals have shone brightly to help the team to small victories. This time, the list is long. When one can look down the 9 minute men and point out a play of huge gravity for each, one can truly talk of depth. And what depth. I alluded to some depth in the preview of this series, I completely left out the defenders. Bouillon, Murray and Beaulieu (Ds 6 through 8) all had great moments in this series that just can't be matched by Meszaros or Bartkowski. And the forward depth is not hyperbole. There is not a dark spot in the Canadiens quick strike machinery right now. All lines can score at any given notice.
All these things undid the Bruins in the end. For all their discipline and alleged depth, the top seed could not address the desire coming from 19 players in bleu, blanc, rouge through the whole series. Even in Game #5, the only game to which the Bruins can truly look back with any fondness, the Canadiens desire produced two goals and sustained the life of the rivals.
This is quite some feat to beat this hockey machine, as flawed as it may be with 3 rookie defenders and no weighty forward shot. They won the regular seaosn because in a league of parity, they had the least flaws of anyone. The Habs should be proud.
What is not told in the regular season standing is how the changes made during a season make a team better than their points totals dictate. The Canadiens are clearly improved. Vanek adds depth acorss the entire lineup by coming in as the top forward and simple additions like Dae Weise and Mike Weaver reconfigured the team in just the right way.
The Canadiens should take heart from this and also be aware that other teams improved as well. The New York Rangers, our next opponent, are a clear example. They made similar moves, bringing in Art Ross trophy threat Martin St. Louis and adding Raphael Diaz (we all know and love him). They had a light schedule to come into the playoffs, but have reeled off two impressive series wins. They have depth on paper and a goalie with a big resume. They should be another match for the Habs. More fun to come.
Enough about that. Your team wanted to beat Boston as much as you did and showed it in every step tonight. Relish that.