Montreal - May 13, 2014 - You knew the Habs would be energized to start the game - but to stay alive and force game 7 they needed to do more than raise their energy. They also needed to:
- Score the first goal
- Intimidate with speed
- Get 51-20-67 going
- Rely on their goaltender to bounce back
The crowd ("They were awesome" said the goaltender) might have forced the early turnover that set the tone for the evening. Can a packed Bell Centre be heard in Boston?
• Carey Price. The loss in game five was not on him but when he's locked in he doesn't allow pucks to slip through him. He was locked in pretty tight. In four elimination games this season (three with Team Canada in Sochi) Price has allowed one goal.
• Max Pacioretty. Finally. Just as impressive as his first goal of the season was his determination in front of the net when the Habs scored on the power play. Anybody think he won't score again Wednesday night?
• Thomas Vanek. There were signs early on that he was going to break the ice. On a rush in the first period Vanek - while moving to his left - fired a strong wrist across his body with something on it. A surprised - and impressed - Tuukka Rask made a good glove save. On the power play to open up the second period Vanek made a perfect pass on a set play to David Desharnais who again forced Rask to make a strong save. He led all Montreal players with 4 shots on goal. Suddenly the Bruins killer (30 goals in 55 career games) has 4 goals in 6 games against them.
• David Desharnais. Has not stopped battling. Stripped Brad Marchand in the neutral zone to set up the clincher by Vanek. Better yet was his save early in the third period when Zdeno Chara's slapper bounced off and over Price and there was Desharnais making like a desperate prisoner attempting to escape under a fence as he managed to scoop the puck out just as it was heading all the way over the goal line. A lasting image to be sure, if the Habs can win game 7.
• Andrei Markov. Was already having a solid series. But took his game to another level. Who'd of thought the hardest check on Milan Lucic would be delivered by Markov? It was Markov's slap shot from the point (after he & P.K. Subban chatted before the face off and changed sides) that Rask couldn't squeeze that led to Vanek's first goal.
• Alexei Emelin. Had no doubt (see previous blog) he'd come out banging. Incredible shift killing a penalty when he nailed Reilly Smith, Carl Soderberg and Chara in succession before sprawling on the ice to clear the puck out. Inspiring stuff.
• Mike Weaver. Slow start. Very strong finish. Had 25% of Habs 20 blocked shots. Good line by Eric Engels post - game: "(I) tried to take a shot of Therrien's presser but Mike Weaver blocked it".
• Tomas Plekanec. Return to form after some imposter invaded his body in game five.
• Brandon Prust. This was the Prust we saw last season. What a boost if he really is healthy again (7 hits). Maybe it was Ginette Reno.
• Dale Weise. Me Dale. Me strong too. [Obscenity] you.
• Lars Eller. Huge early moment. Hey - he could have missed - a la Lucic. Up to 9 points in 10 playoff games.
• Rene Bourque. Good time to arrive in the series. Looked much stronger. One of several Habs to knock Chara on his ass.
• Brendan Gallagher. Missed by that much. Twice.
• Josh Gorges. Led the way on the perfect (3 for 3) PK unit - along with Plekanec. Logged a game high 26:19 - also a non-overtime season high.
• P.K. Subban. What else is there to say? For those clamouring for a few shifts by Subban as a forward - "He's a bad left winger" said his coach about the shift from hell early in the second period. But it would be cool to see Subban as a forward in the offensive zone. How can you not love his swag during his post game interview on the Montreal bench with NBC's Pierre McGuire? Pierre: "You know you're going into a tough environment for game 7, there's no - "(interrupted by P.K) "I love it". That's all you need to know. And a happy 25th birthday.
• Nathan Beaulieu. First professional playoff game. I'd say he passed the audition. Reminded by John Bartlett that Beaulieu's coach in Junior hockey was current Habs assistant Gerard Gallant. Now comes the hard part.
• Michel Therrien. Made the right moves (Beaulieu for Douglas Murray. Briere for Moen. Stayed with Prust). To say he had his team well prepared for an elimination game would be like suggesting Donald Sterling is a crazy old man. As worn out as Habs looked in game five - and as much energy as they put into game 6 (even out-hitting Boston 39-34) they should be ok for game 7. Other than Gorges, ice time was reasonably alloted. Key players (Pacioretty 15:41; Vanek 14:07; Desharnais 15:09; Eller 16:12; Gallagher 13:12; Bourque 11:39; Prust 11:18; Subban 24:27) were not overtaxed.
• Bruins 3rd line (Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson - Matt Fraser), which had been killing Montreal, combined to go minus six.
• David Krecji - Jarome Iginla - Milan Lucic. Krecji & Lucic remains scoreless in the series (Krecji still hasn't scored in 11 playoff games) but the line was all over the ice. Krecji, in particular, was flying. Bad sign if you're a Habs fan.
• POM Fan of the Game contest. Embarrassing and unfair outcome. Whoever is responsible - you've been served. Was she your girlfriend?
• End of game garbage. "We're perceived as the bad guys and they're the good guys" said Claude Julien afterwards. Markov upends Chara with 30 seconds left to play. Boo hoo. Chara punches Weaver. Lucic punches Weaver. Iginla punches Markov. Torrey Krug punches Brian Gionta.
Bruins look totally bush league.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) May 13, 2014
— Canadiens Montréal (@CanadiensMTL) May 13, 2014
Mitch Melnick is the host of Melnick in the Afternoon on TSN 690 - Montreal's Sports Authority. Mitch also has his own website at MitchMelnick.com where you can find his blog, music links, upcoming events, neat photos and more. Listen Live to Melnick - weekdays from 3:00 - 7:00 pm. If you have questions or wish to contact Mitch, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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