Yesterday was the first NHL hockey game for most fans since the end of the Olympics. After two weeks of some of the best hockey ever played anywhere, ever, I had to admit that it was a little difficult to get into last night's game.
This is no fault of the players on the ice, mind you, as they are doing what they have always been doing and performing to the best of their capacity. It's just that I found myself finding the game to be slow with a lot of missed assignments and even more missed passes.
What happened to the beautiful tape to tape plays from the Olympics? The electric body checks and the outstanding saves?
Well, except for the latter, there is no question that a regular season NHL game is a step down from the Olympics. But we all knew that, right?
The Bruins scored first on a goal mouth scramble as Marco Strum, fresh off of an Olympic appearance with Team Germany, poked the rebound off of a Chara shot past Price.
Price should likely have stopped the first shot and, judging from the rain storm of negativity that poured down on him in the Twitterverse after the goal, it is clear that people are not ready to give him a chance.
I find that unfortunate because, as I said in my last post, I believe the break will have done a lot of good for Price and I anticipate a much better goaltender over the last 18 games than the first 64.
That being said, after the semi-weak first goal, Price simply shut the door. He did not collapse into the insecure, confidence lacking mass that we have become used to and neither did the team in front of him quit.
No, last night that script that we have gotten used to was flipped on it head.
Instead of giving up, the Habs simply took the play to Boston outshooting them 10-7 in the first, 14-7 in the third and 32-24 overall. It was during the third period that the Habs finally broke through Rask's wall and once they did, the floodgates opened up.
The Habs scoring started with Glen Metropolit—who played another solid game for the Habs—who tied the game at one, on a beautiful feed from Tom Pyatt at 2:40 of the third.
Next up was Maxim Lapierre, who played easily his best game of the season—feeling a little trade heat Max? Lapierre drove to the net and popped in the rebound off of a soft Travis Moen shot to make it 2-1 Montreal.
Ten minutes later it was Darche scoring and then Pouliot into an empty net, with less than two minutes to play to seal the deal.
Final score: Habs 4 - Bruins 1
1 - Carey Price played his strongest game of the season. When I saw him interviewed on RDS a few days ago, Price looked relaxed and ready to play. It is because of his demeanor that I believe he will continue to have a strong final stretch of the season and he started last night.
While there is no question he should have stopped the initial shot—from Chara—the led to the Strum first period goal, Price was lights out for the rest of the night and displayed some excellent moves in the process.
Today is trade deadline day, and I do not believe the either Price or Halak will be moved (until the summer).
2 - Maxim Lapierre also played his strongest game of the season. Last night, Lapierre looked every bit the player of last season who was a thorn in the side of all opposition.
In addition to agitating, Lapierre as moving his feet and the result was his sixth goal of the season -- which ended up being the game winning goal.
Every time Max was on the ice he was making things happen. Let's hope he keeps it up. Ummm, that is unless he gets traded today.
3 - The plumbers went to work. After two weeks off for Olympic play and with the Habs getting a lot of their injured stars back, you would have expected this to have been a game dominated by their first two lines.
Surprisingly, apart from the Pouliot empty net goal, it was the Habs third and fourth lines that did all of the scoring. As a coach, Martin has got to be happy to see those two lines winning the game for him when both were silent before the Olympic break.
If the third and fourth lines can continue to contribute they will take a lot of pressure off of the Gomez and Plekanec lines and balance out the Habs attack.
Standings and Next Game
The Habs now have 66 point in 64 games and while Habs fans should rejoice in the win, we have to keep things in perspective.
Currently sitting in sixth place, the Habs are three points behind Philly, who has three games in hand. Behind the Habs are the Bruins (65 points), the Rangers (65 points), Atlanta (64 points) and Tampa (63 points) holding three, one, three and two games in hand respectively.
So, while the win was a great way to start, the Habs have little to no breathing room and must keep the pedal to the metal if they want to make the playoffs.
Bold prediction of the day: The Habs will not make any major trades, only a few minor ones.
Trades So Far: As of this morning, the Habs have traded Matt D'Agostini to the Saint Louis Blues for Aaron Palushaj
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