|05.02.14 at 1:29 am ET|
Back on March 1, in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin scored a pair of nearly identical power-play goals against the Bruins. He set up in his favorite spot in the left circle, and blasted two one-timers past Tuukka Rask.
After the game, the Bruins couldn’t really explain how or why it happened. They knew that was where Ovechkin liked to set up. They knew he was the most dangerous weapon Washington’s power play had. They had talked about all of it in their preparation for the game. Yet, it happened.
The Bruins learned from those mistakes, though. The next time they played the Capitals and actually took a penalty (they didn’t take any in a March 6 meeting), their penalty kill went a perfect 3-for-3. Ovechkin did end up with two shots on goal on those man advantages, but neither was anywhere near as dangerous as the rockets he blasted past Rask on March 1.
Fast forward two months, and the Bruins find themselves facing a similar situation. P.K. Subban is the Canadiens’ biggest threat on the power play, and the Bruins know that. They’ve known it for a long time. Yet, in Game 1 of the rivals’ second-round series, the B’s penalty kill twice gave Subban too much space at the point. And like Ovechkin before him, Subban made the Bruins pay both times.
The situations aren’t exactly the same, obviously. For starters, this is a much bigger stage than a regular-season game against a non-playoff team. Also, Subban isn’t just hanging out waiting for his teammates to get him the puck. While he is certainly capable of bombing a one-timer like Ovechkin, he’s just as likely to create his own shot or set up a teammate.
Neither of the goals Subban scored Thursday night came on a one-timer like Ovechkin’s. Both were quick shots from center point, though. And on both, Subban had way too much time and space. Read the rest of this entry »
|05.02.14 at 1:04 am ET|
P.K. Subban wasn’t turning cartwheels in the Canadiens dressing room after his power-play goal 4:17 into the second overtime lifted Montreal to a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Game 1 Thursday night at TD Garden.
There’s good reason for his reservation.
Three years ago, Subban’s Canadiens not only won Game 1, they came back and beat the Bruins in Game 2 soundly and everyone, including the Canadian media, had the Bruins dead and buried heading up north for Games 3 and 4. But a funny thing happened in the Lake Placid retreat between Games 3 and 4. The Bruins found themselves. They tied the series and took a 3-2 lead before losing Game 6 in Montreal.
Of course, Game 7 back in Boston was sent to overtime after Subban drilled home a laser on the same end of the ice where he won Game 1 Thursday night. Nathan Horton saved the day, the series and the Stanley Cup dreams with an overtime goal and the Bruins were on their way to their first title since 1972.
All of which led to Subban keeping it low key after the Game 1 win Thursday.
“Well, it’s great that we won, but listen, I have played against these guys more than a few times over the past couple of years and in the playoffs. The one thing I can tell you is this is a resilient team,” Subban said of the Bruins. “That’s not something that you can say about every team, but against these guys I have to give them credit. They always battle back. They always find a way to persevere. Tonight, it feels good to be the team that found the way to get it done.”
Boo him all you want, but Subban does understand the value of respecting your playoff opponent, especially when it’s the Bruins.
“Listen, I don’t think we can even think about winning the series,” Subban added. “I mean, a couple of years ago we came in here and took two games and went back and we lost in Game 7. When there is success you have to take it and get better. I still think that there are things we need to get better on. We can’t be giving up 50-plus shots, I can tell you that for the rest of the series. [Carey Price] shouldn’t have to stop that many pucks.”
|05.02.14 at 1:00 am ET|
One sign of a true leader is taking full blame for a difficult playoff loss. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask did just that Thursday night when he stood in front of his dressing room stall and told the world he should have saved P.K. Subban‘s rocket of a shot from the center point that beat him and the Bruins 4:17 into the second overtime, giving the Canadiens a 4-3 win in Game 1 of the second-round series.
Matt Bartkowski had just taken a holding penalty for hauling down Dale Weise in front of Rask. Seven seconds later, Subban beat Rask to give Montreal the 1-0 series lead.
“I think I saw enough of that last one to catch it but I don’t know. Just a typical overtime goal. Somebody’s mistake, right? Now, it was mine,” Rask said.
“When you suck, you suck. That’s it. What can I say? It’s the playoffs,” added the Bruins goalie, who stopped 29 of 33 shots on the night while Carey Price stopped 48 of 51 Boston shots on goal.
Is Rask confident he will better Saturday when the Bruins take on the Canadiens at 12:30 p.m. in Game 2 at TD Garden?
“Yeah, we have practice [Friday]. Maybe I’ll save [good performance] for Saturday. That’s the only option. We played a great game. We can’t change anything except we have to kill those penalties and I’ve got to keep the puck out of my net. That’s the only change we need.
“We played overall a good five-on-five, pretty much dominated, had a lot of chances, couldn’t score. But I was [expletive] today. I’ve got to be better.”
But then Rask clarified, adding, “Not an off night. I made some saves, but I couldn’t make the game-savers as you say. So, just go home, sleep and regroup. We had a lot of bounces there. Could go either way, especially in the first overtime. It just went the wrong way, on the goal line and stuff.”
Rask was referring to the puck that came from the stick of Carl Soderberg and passed along the goal line behind Carey Price midway through the first overtime, only to just barely stay out of the net.
Said Rask: “I think as a team, we deserved to win, but from a goalie’s standpoint, Price played a lot better than I did.”
|05.01.14 at 11:28 pm ET|
The Bruins came back from deficits of two goals and one goal in the third period, but the Canadiens got the last laugh in double overtime as Montreal took Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 4-3 win at TD Garden.
P.K. Subban scored his second power play of the night to end it for Montreal, as Matt Bartkowski had taken a holding penalty seconds earlier. Prior to the game, the Habs were 2 for their last 36 on the power play.
Boston had its chances in overtime with Carl Soderberg getting a puck off the end boards in front and sending it across the crease behind Carey Price but not going in. Price later came up with a big stop on Brad Marchand and robbed David Krejci on a feed from Milan Lucic.
After the Bruins had come back from a two-goal deficit in the third period, Francis Bouillon beat Tuukka Rask to break at 12:09 of the third period. Boston had one more comeback in them, as Johnny Boychuk fired a slapshot from the top of the zone that flew past Carey Price with Loui Eriksson in front of the net to tie the game at three.
The Bruins carried the play throughout the first two periods, but Subban’s power play goal in the first and a Rene Bourque goal off a Torey Krug turnover gave Montreal the lead through two. Prior to Subban’s goal, Montreal’s power play was 2 for its last 36 opportunities.
Reilly Smith finally got the Bruins past Price 2:44 into the third period, taking a wrist shot from the half wall through the legs of Andrei Markov that went past Patrice Bergeron and Alexei Emelin before sailing past the Habs netminder. After the B’s wasted a power play off a Subban interference penalty, Torey Krug tied the game by taking a feed from Milan Lucic and blasting it past Carey Price for his second goal of the postseason.
Price stopped 33 of the 36 shots he saw in regulation, while Rask made 20 saves on 23 shots through the first three periods. Paille made his return to Boston’s lineup after missing the first round with a head injury.
Game 2 will be played at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at TD Garden.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– Wasted opportunities were a theme throughout regulation for the B’s, and it cost them again in the third period. Lucic fanned on a feed in front from Krejci with the game tied, and when the puck went the other way, the Habs went on to have a long stay in Boston’s zone by Montreal’s third line eventually leading to Bouillon’s goal.
|05.01.14 at 2:33 pm ET|
One of the most encouraging signs the Canadiens were able to take out of their first-round sweep of the Lightning was the play of Montreal’s third line. The trio of Lars Eller between Rene Bourque and Brian Gionta combined for six goals as the Habs cruised past Tampa.
The question now is what that line will do against stiffer competition and a starting goaltender. Ben Bishop missed the entire series for Tampa, which gave Montreal a bit of an easier path to scoring 16 goals.
Bourque in particular saw the biggest uptick in his game, contributing three goals after scoring just nine goals all regular season. The 32-year-old hasn’t produced at the pace he did in his Calgary days when he scored 27 goals in back-to-back seasons from 2009 to 2011, but he thinks he’s at a point now with the Habs where he’s contributing a deep offensive group that could give the Bruins problems.
“I think we match up great against them depth-wise,” Bourque said Thursday morning. “Obviously they’re a good team, but I think we can play with them.”
Should the third lines play against one another, Bourque will go up against a familiar opponent in Loui Eriksson. The two played against one another often in their days out West, as Bourque played for the Blackhawks and Flames while Eriksson played for the Stars.
Eriksson is one of Boston’s top two-way players, and he and fellow 200-foot skaters Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci were part of an offensive group that aided Boston’s defense tremendously in eliminating the speedy Red Wings in five games in the first round.
Bourque hopes that the Habs can use their speed to their advantage against the Bruins with better success. The aim is to chip pucks behind Boston’s defense and maximize on Montreal’s quickness down low, but Bourque knows it won’t be easy.
“I think every round’s going to get harder,” Bourque said. “Boston’s a big, physical team, especially in front of their net. It’s going to be tough for us to get in front there and get those second and third opportunities. I think we have to sacrifice our bodies and just get to the front of the net. We know they’re going to be physical on us, but that’s where we’re going to score our goals.”
It goes without saying that Montreal’s top line is its most dangerous. The trio of David Desharnais between Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek packs an offensive punch, but Bergeron’s line figures to match up against them in Boston. From there, Krejci’s line will likely get Tomas Plekanec‘s line with Brandon Prust and Brandon Gallagher.
Peter Chiarelli said before the first round that top-six forwards often cancel each other out in the playoffs. If that’s the case, it will be interesting to see how the two offensively deep teams fare in the battle for secondary production. After all, Eriksson’s line with center Carl Soderberg and Justin Florek had a superb series against the Red Wings.
“I think they probably are [better defensively than Tampa], but I think that’s what made our team successful the first round, is that every line chipped in with a goal here and there in every game,” Bourque said. “To be successful against Boston, that’s what we’re going to need again because they have a lot of depth up front, a lot of depth on the back end and a good goalie, so I think goals will be hard to be come by, but I think the same could be said for our team.”
|05.01.14 at 12:44 pm ET|
The Canadiens are feeling plenty confident heading into their second round matchup with the Bruins, but Michel Therrien painted a pretty black-and-white picture of his team’s situation prior to Game 1.
After finishing second in the Atlantic Division to the B’s in the regular season, Montreal swept a Tampa team that was missing its starting goaltender in the first round to set up a meeting with the Bruins. Asked Thursday morning whether he felt his team should be considered an underdog in the series, Therrien, whose team beat the Bruins in three of four regular-season meetings, said Boston deserves to be favored.
“We’re playing against the best team. Underdog or not, the Boston Bruins are the best team in the league right now,” Therrien said. “We understand that it’s a huge challenge not only for us, but all the teams that play the Bruins this year.
“They finished in first place and it was well-deserved. So yes. We’re confident, though. I liked the way we finished the [regular season]. The way that we finished the year gave us the confidence to approach the playoffs. We had a really good first round, and again, the way that we played in the first round gave us the confidence for the next step, and this is the next step.”
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|05.01.14 at 12:04 pm ET|
Montreal sports radio host Mitch Melnick of TSN 690 joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins-Canadiens playoff series and accusations that the Habs sell out in an effort to get penalty calls. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Canadiens often are criticized — at least in Boston — for embellishing physical contact in an effort to draw penalties.
“When the Bruins talk into microphones and cameras and are talking about stuff like, ‘We don’t do stuff like that. We don’t dive. We don’t embellish. We don’t do this, we don’t do that.’ Everybody does it. Everybody does it. Shawn Thornton, stand-up guy, he does it. Every player dives and embellishes a little,” Melnick said.
“The fact of the matter is, if you polled players around the league, who’s the most disliked guy on the ice, Brad Marchand probably wins that poll by a mile since Sean Avery was kicked out of the league. And do they respect Brad Marchand? Absolutely. It’s kind of like Boston toward [P.K.] Subban. The bigger the moment, the more P.K. Subban wants that spotlight. Those guys are winning hockey players. On the ice, in the heat of battle, they do things that drive you absolutely up the wall, and you want to strangle them. But there’s a respect factor. As long as they don’t cross the line and do stuff that ends up in a serious injury. These are winning hockey players.”
Subban has become the poster child for Bruins fans’ distaste for the Canadiens’ style. Melnick said Subban “takes a lot of abuse ‘¦ behind the play” and it’s not always visible to fans.
“I’m not trying to defend him. He’s still learning. He’s still a kid,” Melnick said of the 24-year defenseman. “He’s doing things that he won’t do a year from now, or two years from now. But it’s a growing process. And he feels that he gets so much abuse that once in a while he’s got to put some mustard on it.”
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