Montreal 4 Boston 1 (TD Garden)
The Olympics are over.
It's funny. I found that I don't get tired of sports on my television 22 hours per day. Maybe that's not surprising. There was a dose of reality. I was reminded that my dream of riding in a bobsled someday is really dumb. And I love the sound of cowbells at the curling rink. Never too much cowbell.
How will I make the transition from Olympic hockey? I love no-advertising on the boards, no-touch icing, and the dreaded trapezoid erased.
But how can the NHL possibly compete with the skill, the speed, the intensity of Olympic hockey?
I think of the Team Canada roster. The bottom six forwards were: Toews, Nash, Richards, and Getzlaf, Perry, and Morrow. Wow! That's an impressive third and fourth line.
And who do the Canadiens have in similar positions? No, never mind, it's too depressing to think about.
Or is it?
The first two periods of tonight's game seem like they were played at a snail's pace. Yes, I was spoiled by the Olympics. Passes sometimes reached their targets. One-timers weren't well-timed.
After two periods the Canadiens were out-shooting the Bruins 18-to-17 but trailed 1-to-0.
Somewhere between the second and third periods, the Habs shook off the rust. They pushed the pace of the game as they found their skating legs. Shots on goal in the period were 14-to-7 in favor of the Habs. The Canadiens scored four unanswered goals in the period.
And who led this offensive outburst?
The afore-unmentioned third and fourth line of the Canadiens. The group combined for an astonishing nine points. Glen Metropolit, Mathieu Darche, and Tom Pyatt each had two-point nights. Most goals were scored on rebounds after players got pucks to the net.
Where was that production all year? On the eve of the NHL trade deadline, one wonders if they were playing for their jobs.
"We took it to them in the third period," said Metropolit, who joked about the uncertainty of Wednesday's trading deadline. "My stock rose, I guess. Maybe they can get a seventh-rounder for me now. A bag of pucks and a seventh-rounder. Are there still seven rounds?"
Andre Kostitsyn and Benoit Pouliot returned to the lineup after missing games with injury. Both had trouble with finish but each brought size and aggressive play. Coach Jacques Martin should be happy that he no longer has to fill the holes in the top two lines with spare parts.
The defensive game didn't match the work of the forwards tonight. The Bruins had several opportunities for odd-man rushes but in each case, Carey Price bailed out his teammates.
After the Bruins scored on the power-play with a shot that dribbled through Price, the Canadiens goaltender had a solid game making 23 saves. With tonight's win, Price is now 3-0 against the Bruins this season with a stellar 0.97 goals against average and a .971 save percentage.
Josh Gorges was partly responsible for the Boston goal as he was unable to tie up Marco Sturm. He had several gaffes during the game but led all defensemen with four shots on goal.
For the Bruins, Andrew Ference was minus three, Marc Savard was 4-for-20 on face offs, and Milan Lucic was invisible in his 11 minutes of ice-time.
Overall, it was a good character win. The Canadiens played a solid, hard-working road game and got excellent goal tending. Just like it takes to win in the playoffs.
Playoffs? They are in sight now with the season ending on April 12th. I'm already looking ahead. Now, if the league could only get rid of the trapezoid.
Oh, and one more thing: more cowbell.
Rocket's three stars
1. Glen Metropolit
2. Carey Price
3. Mathieu Darche
Honorable mention: Tom Pyatt
Player quotes from wire services were used in this report.
Montreal 4 Boston 1 (TD Garden)