Friday, 14 November 2014

Game 17: Canadiens 5, Bruins 1

The Canadiens won a game tonight that they were supposed to win, against a depleted Bruins team missing notable players Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, fatigued after playing the previous night in Toronto and traveling to Montréal, and led by an excitable, exasperated Claude Julien.  So they went out and beat the Bruins resoundingly, pulling away with a 5-1 rout.

For once Carey Price didn't have to be heroic, just solid in the first, until his teammates found their range.  In the meantime, he was only beaten by a flutterpuck by Dougie Hamilton that dipped and swooned on the way to the net.  After that, he barred the door, and he didn't need help from a couple of posts and crossbars, there was no luck involved, it's like the Bruins never came close afterwards.

The real star of the game was Dale Weise, who picked up a Gordie Howe hat-trick and a couple of pats on the back from Michel Therrien on the bench.  He crunched Gregory 'Sonny Boy' Campbell along the boards, who objected to this treatment and came seeking redress, but instead got what-for.  He scored on a penalty shot, sniping between the legs of Niklas Svedberg, who was spelling a grateful Tuukka Rask.  To finish off, he set up Max Pacioretty's first goal with a nice back pass on a rush in the Bruins zone.

Jiri Sekac is a revelation, almost playing too well to believe.  We all want to keep our expectations in check, Fabian Brunnström being forefront in our minds, but the results he's getting, both personally and in his linemates Lars Eller and Brandon Prust's improved performance, are undeniable.  Mr. Sekac scored again tonight, on the rush, while walking around a hapless Bruin defenceman, and sniping the inside of the far post. 

L'Antichambre host Stéphane Langdeau said after the game that Lars Eller is playing like the ceding of René Bourque to Hamilton had removed a piano off his back.  I would have gone with an anchor around his neck as the analogy, but it's such a change in his game now that he's buzzing all over the ice with Brandon Prust and Jiri Sekac.  He's doing less fancy stickhandling and charging the net more.  When he has the puck he shoots more, and goldarn it, it's going in.  Good for him

Nathan Beaulieu scored another knockout, against Matt Fraser, a player in a similar weight class, so it should have been an even matchup.  Instead, Nate hit him right on the button and dropped him.  I was skeptical of the reports of Nathan as a gritty, tough player, due mainly to his problems with conditioning.  I thought maybe he was tough when playing against junior players, but as a Bulldog I'd see only indiscipline, penalties when he lost his cool and would crosscheck or slash, but not many bodychecks or fights.  Well, once is an incident, twice is a coincidence, will a third time turn it into a trend?  Nate, who was slotted in the Yannick Weber-memorial position, the hallowed twelth-forward/seventh defenceman, got little ice time at first but more at the end, maybe as a 'REE-ward!' from Boss Hogg.  He put it to good use and set up Jiri Sekac's goal.

Max, who sometimes launches lots of shots at the net and is frustrated at coming close but not converting, notched two tonight, one of which on a lucky bounce from a nice play from David Desharnais.  These things will tend to even out over a season.  If he goes through dry spells once in a while, but pots two against the Bruins every time, I'll take that.

Sergei Gonchar played well.  He seemed to settle things down on the powerplay, although he didn't connect on anything.  Much was made on Sportsnet that he had coffee with Michel Therrien this morning to feel things out, and that these two have a good rapport from their Penguins days.  It dawned on me that Sergei may be a Francis Bouillon equivalent, a security blanket for Michel Therrien, a veteran on the blue line he can trust.  As a fan and draft nerd who wanted the kids to get more icetime, this is a little frustrating, but Marc Bergevin insists you can never have too many defencemen.  We may be happy about this acquisition when the injuries inevitably hit.  Right now though, I'm not happy.  I wants my rookie defencemen, and I wants them now!

What can we say about P.K.?  He's so smooth and polished in front of the cameras, says that he wants to be team captain, but tonight played like a punk.  He slewfoots a Bruin, interferes with a Bruin when he commits a turnover, and then fronts Milan Lucic after the latter delivers a bodycheck.  P.K. jawed at him, crosschecked him fully in the chest, with the refs very nearby, and deftly avoided Mr. Lucic's invitations to drop the gloves and have a go.  For $9M P.K., and since you're not exactly filling the net, and since you painted yourself in that corner, you kind of had to dance there.  Just grab the guy, try to get inside, wrestle him to the ground, do something for heaven's sake.  I hate when you get booed as a rule in opposition rinks, but with a showing like tonight's, I can see why a Bruins fan would boo.

But not too many flies in the ointment in this great win, which brings our record to 12-4-1.  We spend a lot of time looking for warts and picking at scabs, but les boys keep winning, which is kinda nice, when we take a step back.

1 comment:

  1. Really do enjoy your insightful posts, Normand. Glad to have found you this year. Do you ever sleep? :))