Before the regular season began, the major question regarding the Montreal Canadiens and their season was: How will Carey Price play as the Habs' starting goaltender?
With all the pressure of the Montreal hockey world, Price answered the call all season long. He carried the team to the sixth seeding in the Eastern Conference and would head into Boston as an underdog, a role he must be pretty familiar with by now.
And so tonight, after a 31-save shutout of the Bruins in Game 1, did he perform up to standard?
Of course he did, but he received some help from his teammates, which is something that could not be said after a lot of victories in the regular season.
I thought the Bruins looked pretty flat and unmotivated in the first period. They looked like they needed some guidance after Brian Gionta scored 2:44 into the game after a nice pass form Scott Gomez. They managed eight shots (same as the Habs) and needed some regrouping during the first intermission.
They came out gunning in the second period. It was if the Canadiens had awoken the sleeping giants and they hadn't gotten their beauty sleep.
The Bruins peppered Price with 18 shots in the period, and if it wasn't for some key shot-blocks by Brent Sopel (both he and fellow defenseman James Wisniewski were tied for the team lead with four of 19 total), Carey's shutout, and most probably the Canadiens' game in general, would have been ruined.
Montreal stuck to the plan and stayed disciplined (for the most part) and had three penalties in the game.
Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta were brilliant.This is the playoffs—did you expect anything less from the former Stanley Cup champions? With two assists and two goals respectively, the veterans came to play.
Tomas Plekanec had some opportunities and skated Zdeno Chara into a rage.
After taking a shot off of his skate early in the first, Andrei Kostisyn went to the dressing room. He missed the rest of the period, but when he came back, he was as solid as any forward on the team defensively.
The Habs played a near-perfect road game, focusing on containing the Bruins defensively more than anything.
If there is anything the Canadiens could hope to improve in Game 2 of the 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, in would be to get more pucks on Tim Thomas who looked shaky in the opening game. Thomas allowed two goals on 20 shots, a far cry from his record breaking .938 save percentage in the regular season.
Obviously, the Bruins have to be disappointed by the way they began the game. It was an uphill battle after an evident no-show in the first period.
The Bs were clearly frustrated by the Canadiens spread-defense; the Habs left no man unmarked.
Milan Lucic looked lazy on his own blue line when Scott Gomez picked his pocket and set up Gionta for his second of the night. Lucic and his linemates need to step up their game in a big way.
Tim Thomas needs to play like Tim Thomas can, not like Tim Thomas has against Montreal in the past.
The Bruins are going to have to keep the Canadiens out of their heads and put Game 1 behind them if they wish to have any success in the series.
But boy, I have a feeling it's going to be a tough one either way.
Follow Jason on Twitter: @jhytel
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!