Thursday, 8 May 2014

'14 Playoffs Round 2, Game 4: Canadiens 0, Bruins 1 (OT)

We won't blame the Canadiens for feeling like Sisyphus after this game.  They've been pushing that boulder up that hill.  They have led the Bruins on the scoreboard for vast portions of this series, while the Bruins only led briefly, at the end of Game 2, and at the end of tonight's game.  The Canadiens have buzzed around Tuukka Rask, they've set up great scoring chances with effective breakouts.  They got the puck out of their zone with relative ease.  They bodychecked the Bruins often and sometimes hard.  They stymied the Bruins, forcing them to commit turnovers.  When Boston threatened, the Habs blocked shots, they defended fiercely.

And when they were poised to win the game, to take a 3-1 stranglehold on the series, when they had the boulder almost at the crest of the hill, Boston scores a clunker of a cheap overtime goal.  Boston wins 1-0.  They tie up the series at 2-2, and regain home-ice advantage.  The boulder has rolled all the way back down the hill.  C'est tout à refaire.

Tuukka Rask didn't lindback us the game, he made some big stops on a couple of breakaways, which he couldn't manage in the past few games.  I thought that the Canadiens might have misplayed their hand with him, seeing how much he's battled the puck lately.  While there's the old saying that a shot on net is never a bad play, I felt that the number of times he got to stop slappers from the neutral zone, or wristers from way outside the slot, might have allowed him to work on his game, get his confidence back, get centred.  Like a batter who gets punched out by a pitcher in the first inning and looks bad in the process, but in subsequent at-bats sees the ball better, has a better feel for the pitcher's stuff, and starts to anticipate pitches and make contact.

Carey Price went toe-to-toe with Mr. Rask, they faced roughly the same number of shots.  Carey dodged a few bullets, in that three shots clanged off his posts, but kept his team cool and confident with his calm and control.  

Michaël Bournival proved his worth again tonight, forechecking ferociously, baffling the Bruins with his speed and relentlessness.  He got off a few shots on goal, some of which might not have been the best play he could have chosen, but that's understandable from a rookie who isn't expected to play a sniper's role.  Such tolerance is harder to extend to Max Pacioretty or Thomas Vanek, however.

Douglas Murray was a menace again, throwing big hits and forcing the Bruins to play a little bit more on their tiptoes.  It was a little bit contagious, and we saw Travis Moen get a good lick on Zdeno Chara, Max finish a couple of checks, and Andrei Markov get some good hits in as well.  Douglas may not see action on Saturday though, seeing as the Bruins will have the advantage of the last change, and Michel Therrien may not risk putting his heavy-footed defenceman in harm's way.  Gaston Therrien of RDS also feels that Francis Bouillon will draw back in on Saturday.

Very, very long shot:  Nathan Beaulieu, who took part in the warmup tonight, might be in the lineup to provide a spark, and more mobility on the back end.  It would be a bold, uncharacteristic move by Michel Therrien if this played out, since he does love his veterans.

A good game by the boys with an unhappy ending, and one which we hope won't be too deflating for them.  

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