Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Game 66: Round Two

Are we ready for round two? Well, actually this is more like round five since it is the 5th occurrence of "The Rivalry" this season. We all remember what happened the last time these two teams faced each other; gloves and sticks were scattered all over the ice, 14 goals were scored, 182 combined penalty minutes were tallied, and goalies matched up as dance partners for a tango of their own...just another day at the office for the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens.

Coming into the game, Montreal trailed Boston by five points in the Northeast Division standings. The Canadiens also have a 20-8-6 home record, good for second in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins have yet to win a game at the Bell Centre, home of the Canadiens, this season. It was going to be a challenge for the Bruins tonight especially since Montreal came into this game with a four game win streak.

Regardless of all of the cheap tactics that both teams pull behind the play or behind the referee's back, the key for the Bruins was to play smart, plain and simple. Montreal's skilled players, if you want to call them that, are very small in size. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Adam McQauid, and other Bruins needed to give the hits and use their size against players like Mike Gionta, Mike Cammalleri, and Tomas Plekanec who are all under 5'-11". When a goaltender is the best player for a team (Carey Price for Montreal), take advantage of it.

The first period turned out to be one of expectation. The physical play was on display for both teams. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk attempted to unload on P.K. Subban and instead was met by Ryan White, who was just called up recently because he is known for his fighting. Coincidence? Either way, White earned himself 17 minutes worth of penalties on that one stoppage of play (2 minute instigator minor, 5 minute fighting major, 10 minute misconduct). It did not jump start the Bruins at all even though the Bruins led the Canadiens in both shots and scoring chances. However, Lars Eller (MTL) scored two goals and gave the Habs a 2-0 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes.

The second period was a disappointing one for Boston. The Bruins went 0-4 on the power play with 5 shots on goal. They were losing all of the battles in the neutral zone and that cannot happen if you expect to beat a team like Montreal. Goaltender Tuukka Rask (BOS) allowed two more goals in this period. Mike Gionta scored his 24th of the season and James Wisniewski scored his 8th of the season. Both were power play goals. You bet that the Habs' fans were chanting "Oh Lay" at that point of the game.

Towards the end of the period, Zdeno Chara hit Max Pacioretty clean right into the metal upright the supports the glass around the boards. He was served a 10 minute game misconduct and a 5 minute interference major on the hit. Pacioretty was motionless for several minutes until he was carted off the ice. In all likelihood, the NHL will review the hit and the Bruins might take another blow to that already weakened blue line.

It was obvious that the injury to Pacioretty got to the minds of both teams because the third period was generally slow and it went by fast. Milan Lucic scored for Boston as he broke up the shut out held by Carey Price (MTL). That goal was his 29th of the season and that leads the team. Brad Marchand (BOS) had an opportunity on a penalty shot, but it was stopped by Price. The final score was 4-1 in favor of Montreal. They are now three points behind Boston and they are on a five game winning streak.

Gold Star: David Krejci (1 assist, 4 shots on goal, even)

Black Star: Tuukka Rask...it was just one of those nights. He let in a couple of softies and failed to clear the puck on several occasions. Although he is not fully to blame for this loss.

During the period, it was announced that Max Pacioretty was reported to have feeling and motion in all four limbs and he was conscious after being taken to a local hospital. The severity of his injury is still unknown.

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