7 thoughts on Game 7: What are Canadiens talking about?
|05.14.14 at 6:00 am ET|
Yes, there is a pretty important hockey game to be played and I know I’m taking the bait as a member of the media by playing up all of this non-hockey stuff, but a tipping point has to be reached with the love-fest going on with the Canadiens, their coach and perhaps some of their media with what Claude Julien would call “crap.”
When the Canadiens are involved, everything is magnified. Everything’s a story. So much so, in fact, that storylines appear from absolutely nowhere. First, it was the Bruins saying that they had “solved” Carey Price by learning to shoot high on him after Game 2, when, in fact, no Bruins had said that.
This bit from Tuesday takes the cake, though:
‘ Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) May 13, 2014
‘ Dave Stubbs (@Dave_Stubbs) May 13, 2014
So it’s been decided — one way or another — that the Bruins, who just got the crap (word of the series) kicked out of them in Game 6, are disrespecting the Canadiens. At that point on Tuesday, the Bruins had had no availability that day and no Bruins had said anything on the record since immediately after Game 6. The biggest thing said there was Julien saying the Canadiens’ on-ice antics should make people reconsider the narrative the Bruins are bad and the Canadiens are good. Were those late-game scrums the Bruins disrespecting the Habs? Who knows what they’re talking about.
Julien said after his postgame rant Monday that the Bruins aren’t innocent in the shenanigans that we’ve seen in the series. That’s true, with Shawn Thornton‘s water bottle squirt making headlines for a reason. Yet even that was overblown.
(For what it’s worth, talking to NHLers both past and present, squirting players with the water bottle is common; it happens multiple times a game, they say. In my mind, that doesn’t excuse Thornton for doing what he did in Game 5. It was dumb, if for no other reason than the fact that against P.K. Subban and with all eyes on this series, it would be a story.)
Subban made it a story, though. He volunteered the information that someone someone had squirted him in the visor and that he couldn’t see. By comparison, when Zdeno Chara was asked what Andrei Markov did to him at the end of Game 6 — the correct answer was “hit me in the you-know-whats with a stick — Chara said the play was “just a battle.”
The Canadiens are a very good team, with sensational players. Subban is literally awesome when he has the puck. Price is one of the top five goaltenders in the world. Tomas Plekanec is a tremendous player — the list goes on and on. The Canadiens are a great team that’s fun to watch, but they’re also a circus.
The reason I only say “some of their media” is because I don’t know who’s guilty. I don’t know who asked the question to Brandon Prust about the Bruins disrespecting them and I don’t know where a lot of these asinine story angles come from. I do know that the Montreal media has a ton of awesome people and that some of the best reporters in the NHL cover the Habs. When the players say these things, it’s their job to write it. It’s just astonishing what kind of stuff comes out.
This should be the last thing on the Bruins’ minds, but it’s on everyone’s mind in Montreal. For whatever reason, it’s on my mind, too.
Here are six more thoughts headed into what could be the Bruins’ last game of the season.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT FOR DAVID KREJCI
Though Patrice Bergeron is perhaps the league’s best two-way player and the Bruins have a couple of bruisers in Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla, Krejci is the straw that stirs the drink for Boston’s offense, especially in the postseason. One assist through six games leaves that drink relatively unsettled.
Boston’s second and third lines have been very good this postseason, but Krejci and his linemates can’t be a work in progress anymore. You need your best players to step up in the postseason, and Krejci obviously showed in 2011 and 2013 that his best is better than anyone else’s when the games matter the most.
Yes, Krejci would have more points if linemates buried some of the chances that ended up being hit posts or missed nets, so it doesn’t fall solely on him. Either way, that line — which was remarkably consistent during the regular season — could very well be the biggest scapegoat if this team is bounced in the second round.
THE FIRST GOAL IS IMPORTANT, BUT DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY
Despite the Bruins coming back from two-goal deficits in the third periods of Games 1 and 2, the first goal has been key — though not crucial — over the last four games. The team that has scored the first goal has won each game this series, though each team has won a game this series after scoring the first goal and giving up that lead (Montreal in Game 1 and Boston in Game 2).
Game 6 was a good example of the first goal not determining the outcome. Though Lars Eller‘s goal in the opening minutes proved to be the game-winner, the Canadiens did not pack it in defensively immediately after that. The game was wide open until late in the second period, and the Bruins got plenty of chances to tie the game leading up to Pacioretty’s goal.
Maybe the team that scores the first goal packs it in the rest of the way and hopes it can last. That isn’t the way the series has gone so far.
ASIDE FROM LAST CHANGE, HOME ICE WON’T BE A MAJOR ADVANTAGE
The Bruins have played better this series at TD Garden than in Montreal. Their two disasters have taken place at the Bell Centre, while the Bruins have two wins and a double-overtime loss in Boston this series, with the B’s carrying the play in that Game 1 loss.
Yet the Garden isn’t the Bell Centre and it isn’t even close. The Canadiens shouldn’t be intimidated at all entering Game 7, as the pressure is all on the Bruins. Having last change will be a benefit for Julien as he’ll be able to keep Chara and Bergeron on Pacioretty’s line all he wants, but don’t think for a second that the Canadiens will be rattled by the Boston crowd like that Montreal crowd can rattle opponents.
The Bruins should be expected to win this game because they’re the better team and their coach will get the matchups he wants. That’s the advantage the home team has.
TUUKKA RASK HAS TO BE HIMSELF
Rask has had an up-and-down series. Game 4’s shutout stands as the one the Bruins goaltender stole, but he’s had uncharacteristic moments both before and after that. Game 1 saw him misplay a two-on-one on which Rene Bourque scored, as Rask failed to respect the shooter despite the pass option being taken away by Johnny Boychuk.
In Game 3, Rask was partially responsible for Subban’s post-penalty breakaway, as the goalie did not bang his stick to alert his teammates. He also misplayed Pacioretty’s partial breakaway in Game 6 when he tried to go after the puck, retreated abruptly and was caught flat-footed.
The Bruins can’t have any of that in Game 7 — not when Price is in the other net. Price is one of the very best goaltenders in the world, but Rask has used the last two seasons to establish that he is better. Through the first six games Price has statistically outperformed Rask, as his .931 save percentage is superior to Rask’s .910 clip. Each goalie has a shutout.
The series started with the Bruins figuring out how to beat Price, and then it shifted to the Habs being stymied by Rask in Games 4 and 5. Rask’s mental errors have stood out more than Price’s so far, and he can’t commit any in Game 7.
THE BRUINS CAN’T GIVE MONTREAL’S POWER PLAY A CHANCE
By the Canadiens’ seven power-play goals this series, you should probably be able to tell that Montreal capitalizes on the man advantage. With as tense as things have gotten between the two teams this series, the Bruins can’t let bad blood turn into bad penalties.
Emotions boiled over at the end of Game 6, when minds were lost as a result of a David Desharnais slew-foot on Brad Marchand and a Markov stick to Chara’s groin. Scrums ensued and bad words were said.
While the Bruins can’t control what the Canadiens do, they need to consider that the penalties haven’t always been matching when they’ve expected them to be. A bad shorthanded situation could be the difference with how effective the Habs have been on the man advantage when given the opportunity.
THE B’S YOUNG D MUST RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
With Dennis Seidenberg taking contact, the conversation can start about when he might return this postseason. Yet before that happens, the Bruins need their young blueliners help get them out of this round.
Game 6 was largely forgettable for Boston’s young defensemen. In addition to Matt Bartkowski‘s struggles when he’s been in the lineup this postseason, Torey Krug had an uncharacteristically poor showing and Kevan Miller had the flub that led to Montreal’s first goal in Game 6.
There can’t be a repeat of that in Game 7. Julien switched up his pairings midway through the first period of Game 6 looking for better results before going back to the usual pairs for the second. Bartkowski and Krug were big-time postseason performers last year and Krug has been his usual playoff self this spring with two goals and seven assists for nine points, but there is no room for any hiccups Wednesday.
Julien always has Andrej Meszaros kicking around if he wants to insert the veteran into the lineup in place of Bartkowski, but in a game where the team needs everyone’s best, Bartkowski’s best is better than Meszaros’ best.