Monday, May 12, 2014

Boston-Montreal Game #6: Habs Use Home Ice To Max Effect

Date: 12/05/2014
Opponent: Bruins
Location: Montreal

Win: 4-0

Habs Goalie: Price (W)
Opposition Goalie: Rask (L)

Habs goalscorers: Eller, Pacioretty, Vanek (2)
Opposition goalscorers: None

Play of the game

This play could have been any number of things. A blocked shot, a save, a beautiful passing play, a sustained effort, a penalty kill. Maybe it seems like I'm harping on Max Pacioretty, but right now I think that matters -- t get the 40-goal man rolling, that is. The play itself couldn't have been more sweetly scripted. The Bruins had just missed after penning the Canadiens in. Beaulieu, a player the Habs drafted high enough to nab because of the Bruins in 2011, and inserted in the lineup only this evening, outworks first star of last game, Carl Soderberg, flips it over the head of Patrice Bergeron and others, with a hop that lies for Pacioretty. Max eyes the puck and his nemesis bearing down on it. With a few extra explosive strides and a deft rump, he takes Chara out of the play and beats Tuukka Rask at even strength. It was a Max Pacioretty signature goal and it lit his smile. I was premature about that monkey off his back a few days ago. I think the evidence of the rest of the game will convince even Max it's gone now.

Dome hockey team

The 6 players we're playing in a no changes, do or die contest in the dome


Max Pacioretty

The best forward in a number of different ways in this game. He scored the most important goal. He did it versus a well-positioned Chara and Rask. He looked the fastest man on the ice during that play and a few others. his defending, never in question, was again very helpful in the cause. If he is not to be declared back for good, he was at least back for this very important game. This is a nice thought for those in the tricolore.

Thomas Vanek

The reason we're not all goalscorers is because it really is difficult to develop as a skill and a method. All the floating, the timing, everything to be just so. Vanek was not the two-goal man in this one by pure chance. While it is true that some bounces did end up on his stick at just the right time, that's the madness to the method. Goalscorers of the proven variety always come away looking like this. He pounced for the goal that really gave Montreal that extra gust and the empty netter, redundant as it probably was, sealed the affair without a moment of hesitation. Apart from this, there were his passing plays -- very pretty at times.

Tomas Plekanec

Pleks really stood out for me on numerous occasions in this game. I thought that in the midst of the fairly quick burial of Game #5, he was subdued. I was concerned that he might check out. Quite the contrary, he was as energetic as I've seen him in many games, one of the fastest Habs on the ice. All the pressure that came early in the third to take away half a period of pushback was due to this Montreal speed. He was a leader in this defence from the front.


Josh Gorges

Few and far between now are the claims that he is the most underrated in the league. Finally, it seems he is being underrated as he skates in PK's wake. But some of his best work is because he skates so well in that wake, when many times there is work to be done in the turbulence. This game was as important a statement as Boston's apparent return to form (guess all team's with leads do it) in Game #5, and Josh and his fellow defensive-minded teammates did a superb job at limiting Boston's zone time in this game.

Andrei Markov - Game Puck

It's like the old days, Markov doing all the little things so sublimely well to get the puck from this site. The solid effort came from the whole team. He just somehow offered that which was a little more mature, a little more polished at times. Some of the standout moments were the usual, good ushering, PP maestro stuff. Slightly more uplifting to his teammates must have been the two hip checks, the tamer one on Krejci and then the absolute corker on Lucic. The Bruin has never been hit so convincingly by a Hab. I also disagree with Don Cherry (surprise), I think the play on Chara at the end was fine. Zdeno will be motivated just plenty by the Game's number and a little trip in a rout won't affect anything at all.


Carey Price

I vouched for him last time, so I'm glad with the response. To come into Game #6 and get a shutout is so very impressive for Carey. This was him vanquishing more than the best team in the NHL this season. His personal demons too and shaking off some rough stuff from last time out. Perspective is everything though. Down the road, but for a few detailed reports, this game will be remembered as his shutout, a statement. Yet he was clean beaten three times. He owes his defencemen and Desharnais some lunch at least for the shutout, but they owe him as much and more for his work to now. The shutout itself is a nice headline to loom over Boston's planning session for next game.


This game was a masterpiece by recent Canadiens standards. And it was largely made possible by a moment of fortune/misfortune that was the first goal.

What doesn't get said enough about the Habs is that they are a very difficult team to wear down when they lead. As we are force-fed a Bruins diet on CBC, with all the impossible to break down, impossible to count out, blah, blah, we miss the plaudits for the work the Canadiens have managed this season with their early explosions.

But this game was better than most. While the Habs still favoured the "let them come" approach at times, the majority of the game after the second goal at least was spent in an even, if not Habs dominated contest. The spurt that came midway through the third was the Bruins offering, and even that ended when Desharnais smothered what would have been another fortunate bounce in for the Black and Yellow.

As well as the dome, I think the whole squad deserves credit. It is as hard to select a dome after a game like this as it was after the stifling loss. All the defencemen did things that deserve mention, much of it blocking. The forwards all two did better in their own end and somehow finally looked to be getting the feel for puck possession in the Bruins end. I think the moves by Therrien helped in this regard. Briere was good in his targeted use. Prust was the right choice over Moen. And Beaulieu just turned in a performance quite some games beyond his experience.

The mission was accomplished here. The task now is to find what was on tap in Boston for Games #1 and #2 and funnel that. Perhaps it is as simple as not getting behind by three. If that is the case, it is still against the Bruins gameplan and will take plenty of the hard work and determined skating from this one to put into effect.

I would go ahead with the same lineup, personnel permitting. Beaulieu adds that wild card that Boston never considered and he seems up to it. I should have known Prust over Moen, must be getting soft on 32. And Vanek maybe just needed a few games with Pleks to get going. Fair play, it looks better to me now.

Get your best game routine in gear. It's Game #7 with an important prize on the other side.



  1. You don't think Price for the game puck? Otherwise, great recap. Nice to see it.

    1. He was one among many who could have had it. I think he's had lots of credit given this playoffs.He won't miss it.

  2. Remember those unfortunate days when moen moonlighted as a top-six forward? I'm glad those are over.

    I will eat my words on prust, because he played a good game tonight, injured or not, and playing at this level contributes more than the more lethargic travis moen (who had a good season, in my opinion).

    I doubted whether the habs would bring it tonight, but they did, and it was great. What I did not doubt was beaulieu's ability. Remembering him from earlier this season, he is full of confidence in his obvious abilities. Plus, any guy who's crazy enough to lay a tandem-beating on some guy with his own dad has my vote on the ice sheet (if not in any other setting).

    1. My worry about him was largely due to that tandem beating. The team had been so good at turning the other cheek. That report didn't make him out to be a cheek turner at all.

    2. As I understood it (link on my OP name), they initiated the fight really in every sense, so it wasn't so much a matter of turning a cheek because they were just being jerk sports guys, which sucks in most situations, but not necessarily on the ice.

      And let us not forget that they were heavily boozed, which is not the case on ice either.

    3. Chelios was a bar fighter too I hear...

  3. Great game that could have gone either way despite the score. Can't se Boston losing the next one, but I can sort of see CH winning -- not that I am making any sense. :)

    1. No one saw the series playing out exactly as it has, not even the people who safely predicted Game 7. I will watch the game with great anticipation after this display.

  4. Whoo! What a night. I expected Montreal to win this one: home ice, desperation and Ginette all were good reasons for the Habs to come out big. And boy did they come big. They controlled the game for a solid 50 minutes for sure. I could only count the moments the Bruins were really dangerous on a single hand. They hit the post and spent an extended time in the CH's zone at some point and that was scary, but our team managed to get lady luck on their side whenever their skills, grit and energy ran out.

    Here are some players which I believe also deserve recognition for last night's victory:

    Michael Bournival - Finally, Lars Eller can stop being the designated forward when it comes down to checking ( I believe he was the #1 forward for MTL in checking this season ) and he can focus on production. Bournival's speed, resilience and fearlessness makes his linesmates look better. The kid's so polyvalent. I think he's going to be similar to Prust - but better overall and without the fights.

    Another guy I loved was Mike Weaver. If Josh Gorges is often said to be in the shadows of others, well this guy is clearly overshadowed by Gorges himself. Weaver blocks shots like there's no tomorrow. His age and history makes him the perfect soldier - he never surrenders. What a move by Bergevin.

    I also need to eat my words on Prust ( see previous post on game 5 ). Whilst it's true Prust had a pretty bad game saturday, he redeemed himself last night wonderfully. Of course, he wasn't an elite player last night, but he managed to deliver a solid job. I'm not sure he will be able to repeat that performance in the long term though. Seems to me Prust's career is slowly going down now. So many injuries have plagued him recently. It reminds me of Darcy Tucker's decline and that was pretty sad for me to watch - I loved to hate that guy. They're both relatively small players who weren't afraid of hitting hard, no matter the size of the opponent.

    Desharnais didn't score but he saved Carey's shutout and that's worth a goal in my book. Pacioretty needed to score to regain confidence and Vanek needed one as well.

    Brendan Gallagher quickly became one of my favorite players of all time. I can't get enough of seeing him defying giants around the net. His clash with Chara last night was epic. Whenever this kid gets crosschecked in the back, he gets up with a smile on his face and goes back to work. He's insane and I love it.

    I'm less confident when it comes down to game 7, but who knows? Anything can happen. Maybe Beaulieu can do what Subban did during his first playoffs.

    1. How neat is it to see the difference in skating technique between gallagher and desharnais when the former can absorb much heavier leans and stay on his feet? (not to denigrate desharnais, he has his strengths as well) Gallagher's turning radius is incredible as he maneuvers with the puck at the goal-line, pivoting to position in front of the net.

      May we all feast on all our prust words.

  5. Love Weaver stepping up to defend Markov from the big fellow. Ballsy
    And like you say, which Hab didn't play well?
    My prediction of Bruins in 6 is now out the window, so win and on to face the Rangers!

  6. You were rooting for your prediction over your team? Is your real name Gaston Therrien?