Well, that was “entertaining”, right? Is that the right word? Combined 14 goals, 182 penalty minutes, a goalie fight (sort of). If you’re a Boston Bruins fan then of course it was, you dummy! Resurrecting The Beantown Brawlers, giving Mike Milbury that “funny feeling” from his cozy NESN booth (yes, I watched the 1st period on NESN, you want to talk about biased?), and most importantly, distancing themselves further from the Habs in the standings by winning one of those special “4-point” games.
For the bleu, blanc, et rouge, last night’s game was an eye-opener. Despite their resiliency, they’re unrelenting never-say-die attitude was admirable to watch, but simply not enough to surpass the B’s. With the win, Boston holds firm to 3rd place in the Eastern Conference, leaving the Habs still searching for answers.
It wouldn’t be much of a rivalry if the Bruins didn’t win every once in awhile; Boston showed some serious intestinal and testicular fortitude in this game. Walloping the Habs with every chance they got, earning every goal, hitting every body, punching every face.
Was it pretty? Of course it wasn’t. It was downright nasty. At some points it looked less like a hockey game and more like an audition for Slapshot: The Broadway Musical. For some of our older fans watching Wednesday’s game, it certainly conjured up memories of O’Reilly, Jonathan, and Wensink going “Tasmanian Devil” on the NHL during the 70’s.
In my previous post, I had mentioned that the Canadiens would win Wednesday night’s tilt vs. the Bruins simply on the lack-of-success displayed by the Boston Bruins goaltenders against Montreal since, well, the beginning of time. Tim Thomas surrendering 6 goals (in 2 periods none the less) doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is Jacques Martin’s continued trust in Scott Gomez as a 20-22 minute a game centre. The trio of Eller-Gomez-Kostitsyn combined for –12 and only 5 shots. Gomez was blanked in the face-off circle and the Big Bad Bruins, with their towering size, completely dismantled the Habs’ defacto second line.
What to do now?
Wednesday night’s game proved once again that the Canadiens need a skilled, physical presence down the stretch. Ottawa Senators forward, Chris Neil comes to mind, seems unlikely he will be traded to a divisional rival. The Islanders Trent Hunter is another. Habs fans are screaming from atop the highest watchtower, “Where’s the Beef?”. Montreal Canadiens General Manager Pierre Gauthier will have to appease the fans soon, before this game becomes the focal point of the Habs’ unravelling in the 2011 season.
The Canadiens will return home to face the New York Islanders at the Bell Centre ce soir. The Islanders are working on goaltender #5 this season as they are going through netminders faster than Larry King goes through wives.
This is the 4th and final meeting between these two teams this year with the Habs holding a 2-1 series lead. The Islanders were the victors during their last meeting on Boxing Day, 4-1 in Uniondale.
After surrendering 8 goals last night, it looks as if Big, Bald, Alex Auld will get the start for Les Canadiens in place of Carey Price. The Habs have called up Ryan White from Hamilton, looks as if Tom Pyatt will be the odd man out after getting his face split-open by Gregory Campbell.
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The Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins will add another chapter to their storied rivalry as both teams renew hostilities ce soir at the TD BankNorth Gaa-den. Tonight’s game marks the 4th meeting between these two Northeast divisional teams this season with the Canadiens holding a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s game.
Vezina trophy front-runner, Tim “The Toolman” Thomas is slated to start for the B’s. Thomas’ last outing vs. Les Canadiens was solid… for 58 minutes, until two soft goals sent both teams to the extra frame and Max Pacioretty sealed the deal (and a shove to Zdeno Chara) with his OT winner. Thomas’ comeback into the Bruins spotlight is nothing short of spectacular following what many feared to be, a career ending surgery at 36 years old to repair his hip. He has certainly earned his place atop the league as one of its elite netminders. Versus the Habs, not so much.
Thomas may a boast .945 save %, a sparkling 25-6-6 record with 7 shutouts this season; against the bleu, blanc, et rouge though, the numbers are not so flattering. Lifetime vs. Montreal, Thomas has a 8-14-4 record with an alarming 3.05 GAA and a .870 save % a far-cry from his squeaky clean numbers this season. Truth be told, has there ever been a goaltender in the Boston Bruins organization to have ever handled the Canadiens with relative ease? Other than Andy Moog (on a stacked Bruins team in the late-80’s early 90’s…hello…Cam Neely anyone?), I cannot, for the life of me, remember any Bruins goaltender having continued success against the Habs (including the playoffs) throughout his Bruins tenure. Not Dafoe (In the playoffs), not Raycroft (regular season and playoffs), not even the great Gerry Cheevers (The Lafleur goal comes to mind)!
As my good friend Anthony Di Domizio would say, “The Bruins goal crease is cursed, CURSED I tell you! The Bruins could have both goaltenders starting and they would still find a way to lose against the Habs.”
“The Chosen One” Carey Price will be Thomas’ rival tonight, Superman to his Lex Luther, Neo to his Agent Smith and so forth. Price has garnered a respectable 26-17-5 record this season and leads the NHL in wins. What’s more impressive is Price’s career record against the B’s. In 16 regular season games against Boston, #31’s record is an outstanding 12-2-2 with a .926 SV%. You have to love those numbers!
Speaking of numbers…The Canadiens are only two-points shy of surpassing the Bruins for the Northeast division lead and the #3 spot in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. The Habs have won 3 out of their last 5 games since the All-Star break and are 9-3-3 in 2011.
James Wisniewski should return to the Habs lineup tonight. The Wiz was battling the flu this past weekend. The Habs are 0-for-22 on the PP in their last 5 games and 3-for-10 on against the Bruins this year. The Habs would love to have #20 on the ice tonight to jump-start the Habs power play.
Tonight’s game will mark the 709th meeting between these two bitter rivals with the Habs holding a 342-257-103 lifetime record (Both regulation losses and Overtime/Shootout losses are lumped together).
I will provide highlights of tonight’s game via my tweeter-feed @JohnnyBertolo
Enjoy the game!