Habs Goalie: Price (L)
Opposition Goalie: Anderson (W)
Habs goalscorers: Bourque, Gallagher
Opposition goalscorers: Karlsson, Silfverberg, Methot, Latendresse
For me the play of the game was the goal that opened the Canadiens account. It all began with a 2-on-1 on which Pacioretty made a pretty poor decision to pass to a well-covered Desharnais. Desharnais took that shoddy pass and without a shooting opportunity never relented. he battled hard to retain possession, which continued through Subban and then a simple pass to Bourque. Bourque stepped out from the back of the net and showed Habs fans that there will always be ways to beat any goalie. That backhand shot was sublimely placed.
It would be hard to watch that game and come to any other choice among the forwards from the Canadiens. If there was ever any reticence about using a rookie in such a prominent role, it should be put to be forever now. Gallagher just did the #11 very proud with an extra gear during a playoff effort. His goal was very hard won and the product of his bravery, determination and quite some skill. There must now only be questions about how on a depleted forward unit, the little winger ended up with as few ES minutes as he did.
While his stick on Anderson bordered on the ridiculous, I can appreciate what it was all about. Sometimes when things aren't going well for your team, it takes something ridiculous to turn the tables. I would much rather Prust's antics than a dirtbag hit. Throughout the game, I thought Prust was playing these cards well, and had he been placed with better linemates, I'd suggest his work might have borne more fruit. With an Eller injury, it must be Prust that jumps the lines, as he proved once again his worth in different aspects of play.
What we learned tonight is that Ottawa's discipline is making Craig Anderson look almost unbeatable. There were moments, however, when the Canadiens broke the hold and posed a true threat. For my money, the player at the root of the most of these was Alex Galchenyuk. Like Gallagher, I think he proved his readiness for the test. He is slippery to cover and strong enough to come through swarm defending with the puck in shooting positions. I'd question the decision to reserve him for more. This dome is a line I think Therrien needs to carefully consider for tomorrow ahead in some situations over his current favourites.
PK Subban - Game Puck
PK started really slowly by his standards. If there was any doubt he read the papers, there's none now. An Erik Karlsson mastergoal woke the sleeping 76 and from that point he was the dominant force on either team. His premiere moments came in keeping pucks in while never losing his passing options on the PP and in the effortless skates from behind his net to wherever he very well wanted. If there's more games like this in store from Subban, Ottawa will not be getting through this series without losses. If I was to wonder about his weakness early, I'd wonder whether he deferred too much to Markov. Markov is clearly a master at setting up breakouts, but Subban should know he's no slouch. The sting of quick attack was removed by a bit of "no you take it" moments from the two early. Separate the players and the team gets slick breakouts more often (and possibly much needed help for the utterly lost Josh Gorges).
For the amount he played, I'm now surprised that Bouillon made such an impression with me. From his tree trunk hits to his useful forays forward, I thought he was a clear asset to his team. I think #55 has more to offer than as babysitter and mentor to the new 6th Dman. Against this opponent, he seems suited to the fight.
Although I wrote an article only a few hours ago about how the team wouldn't need to rely on heroics from Price to progress, I must question the level he was able to deliver tonight. The night started with such great promise and I was thrilled to see the old efficient movements dishing pucks out of harm's way. Although it's easy enough to distribute blame to others and absolve the goalie, he did at the end of the day allow four past and was close on a couple more. While Montreal had to work like dog's to get two past Anderson, it seemed like there were few threatening chances from Ottawa that didn't light a lamp. Carey may not have to play any better than this if his team gets their just reward for 50 shots on goal, but he probably will to get my vote here again.
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CommentsOK, so a lot of comments and no mention yet of Eller. Well, here we go. I dislike the hit on Lars Eller. And I detest the hockey fraternity's closing ranks defending it and blaming Raphael Diaz. If the league wants to avoid these gruesome events, it has to examine why there is such a thing as a suicide pass (I hasten to add it is just a run-of-the-mill pass 95% of the time when a dirtbag hitter isn't around). All that said, I do agree that it was probably not against the rules as they currently are applied. My primary issue then is with the rules and their inadequacy to protect a player taking a pass 200 feet from a danger area from grievous harm. Secondary, my full knowledge that most players when faced with the same available hit don't inflict this damage (though they could).
The loss of Eller for the Canadiens within the game was enormous. Eller himself was playing a very strong game. But who knew Therrien and co. would be so dumbfounded by the loss of a player that they'd float Ryan White as his sometime replacement. I very much hope he's OK because a young career does not need the shadow of concussion looming over it.
In other point unmentioned: where were some of the leaders of this team? Plekanec was visible, but Gionta and Ryder? The two wingers allowed their play to be negated without much adaptation of their own. Pacioretty played a lot of minutes and took a lot of shots, but few were dangerous and most were dead end efforts. Bourque scored a gorgeous goal, and maybe that is enough, but did I see him even play after that?Do I even need to mention Travis Moen? Finally, Josh Gorges. It is time for the player to get his game back in order -- nonchalant does not suit him and it is getting him into trouble often enough now. He deflected in the tying goals and had two pretty bad giveaways in a single sequence that led to the gamewinner. can Carey talk to his friend? His own stats cry out for the Josh of old.
OK, that's a bit gloomy. But don't be fooled, although the Canadiens did have 50 shots scored by their generous scorekeeper, Anderson and the Sens only felt under siege for a period at most. What Ottawa was able to accomplish with their successful counter was reminiscent of every Montreal playoff exit of recent memory: putting a lot of effort into playing down dead ends. Perhaps fewer shots next time, but more of the kind that have shown to trouble the opponent would be in order. After all, Anderson does not seem to want to let just any 30 foot slapper from the wing in.
Tomorrow is a new day and the Habs still hold all the advantages they did prior to this game. With Subban running on ring of the circus and Markov another, the forwards can learn from their youngest peers how to menace the great Anderson. The first signal will be the strategy to replace Eller. I hope Therrien saw what I saw.