Habs Goalie: Condon (L)
Opposition Goalie: Rask (L)
Habs goalscorers: Byron
Opposition goalscorers: Eriksson, Ferraro, Bergeron
Paul ByronIt’s never a bad idea to throw a puck at the net but beyond that he played well. He consistently drove to the net all night eventually drawing an important penalty that we all hoped would have worked out better for the Habs.
Tomas PlekanecBesides an assist on Paul’s goal then going hard to the net, causing the turmoil that resulted in the puck actually going in, Tomas played hard in both ends for the majority of this contest (at least two periods). He was creative up front albeit looking a little snake bitten, but he was tough to play against in his one zone. He skated hard, gave effort, was defensively responsible, and while he didn’t throw any bone crushing hits (not in his contract) he did pin guys up against the boards aggressively forcing more than one Boston turnover. If Galchenyuk can emerge as a legit #1 centre, Pleks has been the kind of #2 centre every championship teams needs to win the Cup his whole career.
Tomas FleischmannAlong with Desharnais and Weise, Fleischman was part of the most consistent line for the Canadiens all night and the only one that showed much of anything constructive in the first half of the third period. Coupled with his efforts even strength he was stellar on the penalty kill tonight as well.
Andrei MarkovAndrei was solid tonight. Tough on the boards, getting shots towards the net, driving and distributing offensively and blocking shots defensively. He even got in a solid hit. Markov was a driving force for the Canadiens in the first two periods.
Alexei EmelinThe Bruins are a big and (not so) bad team who seem to be of the opinion that they can intimidate the Canadiens with brute force. Emelin let them know tonight with a few big hits of his own that he and his teammates are far from intimidated.
Mike Condon - Game PuckHe wasn’t real busy in the first two periods or in the second half of the third period. I’m sure we all wished he had have saved a couple of those third period goals but a short handed breakaway, a top corner snap from the slot and an unmarked Bergeron just about in the blue paint with enough time to deke around Condon certainly can’t really be faulted to our goaltender. Aside from that, in each period Condon made a save that I thought was surely a goal. Short of scoring himself, Condon did all he could be expected to do, give Montreal a chance to win.
CommentsFor two periods Montreal skated circles around Boston. They put pucks on the net and Rask was the difference. A former Vezina Trophy winner, his lacklustre play against Montreal is not indicative of the man’s NHL career and it was bound to turn itself around. Tonight was the night. While Condon got Montreal’s game puck it was Rask who won First Star honours and rightfully so. For two periods I was cocky. Another win over the Bruins in the books. Too slow to compete with the Habs. Not skilled enough. What would I write on the facebook walls of my friends who are unlucky enough to root for them.
And then it all came crashing down. Often times when you outplay a team yet opportunity after opportunity to put the game away come and go with nothing to show it comes back to bite you in the keester. The Bruins were outplayed in just about every manner tonight and yet there they were, down by a goal, heading into the third period. I believe I was just as shocked as the players when the first goal banked off the inside of Condon’s right skate and slid into the net.
Body language says a lot. Every player on the ice for that goal, looked dumbfounded. What just happened? We were in cruise control. Boston can’t play with us. How did they just manage to score. The game waits for no one and analytical thought is best left for discussions post 60 minutes. It wasn’t even 60 seconds after Eriksson’s goal when Montreal was picking the puck out of their net again. On a night when Montreal didn’t look to have that spark in the offensive zone and Rask looked to be in a zone of his own, at 8:35 of the third period, Landon Ferraro had sealed Montreal’s fate.
Immediately I felt robbed. Cheated out of a deserved win over a disliked rival. We out skated them and out shot them, but is there more to it than just bad luck, a potential scoring drought, and a hot goaltender? Boston has been embarrassed by Montreal over the last two seasons. Rask has been even worse. Boston has built their team to be big and tough which is fine against most teams but you can’t hit what you can’t catch and Montreal have three lines of speed. When Boston gets to chasing Montreal around they get sucked out of position and, tic-tac-toe, the puck is in the back of their net. They didn’t chase last night.
Why skate out to the wings when you won’t catch the player out there anyway? Why not hang out in front of your own net and wait for them to come to you? They’ll have to eventually if they want to score. Tonight the vast majority of Montreal’s shots were from away from the net with Bruin defenders strategically positioned to prevent shooters from getting into the high shooting percentage positions. Defenders were able to muscle away potential screens and had good body position, for the most part, to slap away rebounds. The Bruins played a smart game last night, by hanging back and letting Montreal come to where they were waiting for them, they essentially neutralized Montreal’s speed and brought their brawn back to being a factor. Last night I don’t think Montreal were beaten by a better goaltender, or a scoring drought. I think they were out coached. Let’s hope Michel figures it out before January 19.