The moment we have been waiting all week long has finally arrived, the start of the Montreal-Boston series.
The Canadiens welcomed back Mike Komisarek, after a hip injury gotten on game #7 vs. Bruins during the regular season. Komisarek's return was a game day decision, while Francis Bouillon, and Saku Koivu still have to remain on the sideline. Francis Bouillon's ankle is reportedly recovering well, but he has not been cleared for the game yet. For Koivu, he does not even practice yet.
Rookies O' Byrne, Stewart and Grabovski are tonight's healthy scratches. O' Byrne left his spot to veteran Patrice Brisebois, and Stewart was originally recalled to replace Ryder who is back after a leg injury.
However, I am glad Stewart stayed with the team. Recalled from the AHL with Matt D'Agostini last week, he had an excellent first game against Toronto, registering two scoring chances and a fight against Leafs Brian McCabe. D' Agostini has been reassigned to Hamilton last week end.
For Boston, it seems Patrice Bergeron might see some action during this weekend. Savard is back, after a back injury from a Begin's forechek during game #8 of the regular season.
As the Habs hit the ice on the usual Coldplay's "Fix You" invading the Bell Center, the fans were standing to welcome the 2007-08 Eastern Conference regular season champions. It's playoff fever!
Claude Julien was behind the Montreal bench back in 2004 (what a coincidence), when he could bring his team past the Bruins to finally win the series 4-3. This time around, the Bruins will inspire from that 2004 version of the Habs.
Starting the game, I just had the time to sit down and get ready and the score was already 1-0 for Montreal!
Sergei Kostitsyn scored after only 34 seconds on a rebound from Patrice Brisebois's shot. Two minutes later, brother Andrei doubled his team's lead on Thomas Plekanec's assist.
By then, Carey Price did not face that much shots. Obviously! However, he was beaten by Bruins Shane Hnidy midway through the first.
After 20 minutes, he allowed one goal on six shots. His defense-men played amazing in front him all night, clearing the rebounds and restricting the shooting spots of the Bruins. In fact, Roman Hamrlik and Andrei Markov were the first two stars of the game.
Alex Kovalev - whose father is in town to watch the playoffs - has been scoreless tonight but still showed a few of his amazing moves. He could count on his fans who went with "Kovy! Kovy!" to reward his stick-handling tricks. In 22 minutes of time on ice, he managed three shots on goal.
Brian Smolinski and line-mate Tom Kostopoulos scored the two other goals of the Canadiens.
The fun thing with this young team is that everything gets to be named "first". The brothers Kostitsyn got their first playoff goals, Maxime Lapierre got his first playoff assist (on Kostopoulos' goal), as well as Mike Komisarek (on Smolinski's goal).
By the fourth goal, the crowd was chanting his usual "nana-nana-nana- hey hey hey- goodbye" hymn.
Rookie Price was not very busy for his playoff debut, with 18 shots in the win. On the other side, Thomas stopped 28 shots, and was particularly shining on the penalty killing.
Doug Jarvis (Habs assitant coach) might want to take a look at his boys' power play. There have been six one-man advantage tonight, plus one two-men advantage, but all remained scoreless.
But they won, and that is what matters.
Playoff series are usually more physical, and between the Bruins and the Canadiens, hitting and roughing must be part of the routine. Steve Begin and Guillaume Latendresse are some of the players who got some action tonight.
The next game will be on Saturday, and both team will fly to Boston for game #3 on Sunday.
(picture: Steve Begin, game #7 regular season, Yahoo! Sports)