5 Key Statistics for Series Between Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins
The Montreal Canadiens enter Game 2 of their Eastern Conference semifinal against the Boston Bruins as unlikely winners of six straight, including a four-game sweep as arguable underdogs against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Round 1.
While by most accounts the Habs got decisively outplayed against Boston in Game 1, they didn’t when it comes to the one position that matters most, in net. Goalie Carey Price was outstanding, turning aside 48 of 51 shots on net in the overtime victory.
Including Price’s heroics so far this postseason, here are five key statistics that might help shape the rest of the series between the Habs and Bruins.
5. Boston: 62.8 Corsi for Rating in Game 1 Against Montreal
While the 51-33 edge in shots on goal for Boston in Game 1 was bad enough, that’s only half the story…almost literally.
In all, the Bruins directed 98 shots (including those that missed and were blocked) toward the Montreal net compared to just 58 for the Habs, according to extraskater.com. That’s good enough for a 37.2 Corsi For rating for the Habs, which really isn’t good enough to win a playoff series. It isn’t even good, period.
In sharp contrast, the Habs never posted a rating below 48 percent in their four-game sweep of Tampa Bay. Excluding Game 2 of that series, they didn’t have one below 51.2.
While the nine days off between series may have had something to do with Montreal’s Game 1 performance, there’s still a lot the Habs need to work on if they have any hope of sticking with Boston, let alone moving on.
4. Montreal Power Play: 25 Percent After Game 1 Against Boston
At least one area into which the Habs must have put some serious work between series was special teams.
After scoring just two power-play goals in Round 1, the Habs doubled their output with the man advantage in just one game against Boston.
Perhaps more impressively, that 25 percent in the headline isn’t a reference to Montreal’s power-play success against Boston just in that one game. If it were, that would be impressive in its own right. However, the Habs only had three opportunities with the man advantage in Game 1 and are now 4-for-16 overall.
It’s a similar story on the penalty kill, as the Habs successfully kept the Bruins off the scoreboard when they had the man advantage. Montreal was only 71.4 percent successful on the penalty kill in Round 1, but are now a much more respectable 77.8 percent.
Seeing as Montreal already owns a 1-0 series lead despite being thoroughly dominated in Game 1, if the Habs can get both their even-strength game and special teams going at the same time they will a pose a very real threat to Boston in this series.
3. Montreal: Zero Regulation Losses When Leading After Two Periods
With a record of 35-0-3 during the regular season when winning after two periods, the Montreal Canadiens are arguably the most successful team when leading.
No other team has more wins without at least one loss in regulation. Tack on another four victories during the playoffs—including Game 1 against Boston, when Montreal was up 2-0 entering the third—and that record becomes an even more impressive 39-0-3.
That of course isn’t to say every Montreal lead is safe. In fact, few are in all honesty. In Game 4 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal had a 3-1 third-period lead only to cough that up before winning on a last-minute goal by Max Pacioretty.
In Game 1 against Boston, the Habs gave up that aforementioned 2-0 lead and managed to go ahead again with less than eight minutes left. They, of course, had to eventually settle for a 4-3 overtime victory.
So, arguably, Montreal doesn’t really know how to play all that well when it has a late lead. However, much more importantly, the Habs know how to win…as head coach Michel Therrien and all Habs fans lose their hair in the process.
2. Price: .931 Save Percentage Since Game 1 Against Tampa
Price was of course the main reason the Habs won Game 1 against Boston, making 48 saves on 51 shots (.941 save percentage). It was his third noteworthy performance in four games, during which he has made 121 saves on 130 shots overall (.931 save percentage). That’s excluding his postseason-opening win against Tampa in which he allowed four goals on just 25 shots (.840 save percentage).
Since then, his save percentage has increased to .916 overall. To put in perspective just how great he has been recently, especially in Game 1, it had been .904 immediately beforehand.
It’s maybe a bit too early to say Price owns the Bruins. At the very least, though, Game 1 saw his postseason mastery over the Habs’ longtime rival continue.
Heading into this season, his only playoff series victory came against Boston (2007-08) and in 2010-11, he posted a .934 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average during a seven-game, opening-round loss to the Bruins.
While, from the Habs’ perspective, those seven games overall didn’t turn out as planned, Montreal likely wouldn’t mind a similar series-long performance from Price, nor heading back home with the same 2-0 series lead. It’s not as impossible as it sounds.
1. Rask: 0-9 at Home Against Montreal in His Career
At the other end of the rink, the Habs just may be getting into Boston goalie Tuukka Rask’s head. He now has a 3-10-4 record overall against Montreal in his career, including a shocking 0-6-3 record against the Habs when playing within the normally friendly confines of TD Garden (where Game 2 will be played).
Admittedly, Rask didn’t play all that poorly against the Habs in Game 1. Sure, he might have liked to have Rene Bourque’s 2-0 goal back (along with Subban’s overtime winner for obvious reasons).
However, he did make several highlight-reel, key saves up to that point and his .879 save percentage in the game is at least proof that stats don’t always tell the whole story.
By the same token, though, when you have a .928 career save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average in the regular season but only a .906 percentage and 2.63 GAA against just the Habs heading into Game 1, something is clearly off.
While the Habs certainly can’t afford to play this entire series as they did as a team in Game 1, Rask needs to be better as well in order for the Bruins to move on.