2009 Playoffs Eastern Conference Quarterfinals: Game One
Boston 4, Montreal 2 (TD Banknorth Garden)
posted by Rocket
Finally, it was gameday! Of course, listening to all the hockey pundits, there was no reason to drop the puck. We heard that, line by line, the Bruins had better players. We were told that the Canadiens would be wallpaper on the Banknorth Garden boards. We were led to believe that the Habs had no hope to win a game against the first place Bruins given the regular seasons series.
But the truth is that the Bob Gainey led Habs had a record of 0-0-1 vs. the Bruins in the regular season. Gainey's Habs proved that they were able to compete with the Bruins in game #81.
A funny thing happened after Rene Rancourt tortured the national anthems: the Canadiens didn't get blown out of the rink. Sure the Bruins came out attacking in the first ten minutes. It was expected, and the Habs withstood the pressure.
At the end of the first, the Bruins had a 15-to-9 shot advantage but only a 2-1 lead.
Defensive zone breakdowns by the Canadiens resulted in the two Bruin goals. Mathieu Schneider and Matt D'Agostini were guilty of not taking their man on the two goals.
Chris Higgins had a goal in the first and was very good on the penalty killing unit. Higgins had a great game for the Habs. His line mate Metropolit seemed to relish the chance to play an important role against his former teammates.
The Habs outshot the Bruins 13-to-10 in the second period. Alex Kovalev scored on a rocket to tie the game.
The supposed big, bad physical Bruins seemed to enjoy pasting Patrice Brisebois to the boards and running Carey Price. The Canadiens outhit Boston 31-23.
Boston was more disciplined than Montreal, but was also getting the breaks. A slow whistle enabled the Bruins to dislodge the puck while covered, giving them their first goal. While the Bruins were crashing the crease often, only one goaltender interference penalty was called.
Bad penalties by Tomas Plekanec and Josh Gorges also played a role. Gorges' penalty was particularly costly, as the Bruins scored the winning goal on a subsequent power-play.
On the play, the penalty killers, Max Lapierre and Tom Kostopoulos collapsed back to the slot leaving the point open for Zdeno Chara to blast the puck ito the net. Kostopoulos also provided a screen.
Suprisingly, Georges Laraque played a smart game and had a positive impact. He seemed to distract Chara. Laraque was used on a number of lines, including playing with Koivu and Kovalev.
Saku Koivu's line had three points.
Andrei Kostitsyn also had a strong game. He had three shots and three hits including a solid check on Milan Lucic.
The Lapierre line was quiet again (until the last four seconds of the game). In a physical game, the line had three hits combined. This is a key line for the Canadiens in this series. They will have to play much better, especially on the road.
Mike Komisarek had a solid game with hits and blocked shots. While he didn't get an assist, Komisarek made a good play to keep the puck in the Bruins zone on the Canadiens' first goal.
Roman Hamrlik seemed feisty, but in a strange statistic, he led the team in shots with five but recorded no hits.
It would be difficult even for the Brisebois-apologists to whitewash his brutal play tonight. There were errant passes, bad giveaways, and soft play. Brisebois showed none of the experience that was the reason for him being added to the lineup.
Mathieu Dandenault played a smart, simple game and showed how a veteran can make a positive contribution.
Carey Price made 36 saves. He had good positioning and controlled rebounds.
Special teams need to be better. Without Yannick Weber, the power-play looked lacklustre going 0-for-2. The Bruins power-play was 1-for-4.
The players seemed to be well prepared and knew their roles. Bob Gainey kept Julien off balance by moving Georges Laraque around. Gainey made minor adjustments to his lines and defensive pairings all game long.
The Canadiens played well and proved they are able to beat the Bruins, but this was a game that the Habs should have won. If so, it would have changed the dynamics of the series.
The Canadiens are indeed underdogs, but their performance tonight suggests that this series isn't over yet.
Starting lineup: Koivu, Tanguay, Kovalev, Dandenault, Gorges
Carey Price and Tim Thomas started in goal.
O'Byrne, Weber and Stewart were scratched from the line-up. Sergei Kostitsyn, and Markov were out with injuries. Bouillon and Lang are on injured reserve.
Rocket's three stars:
1. Phil Kessel
2. Chris Higgins
3. David Krejci
(photo credit: Getty images)