Whitby - Sep. 26, 2011 - Boston Bruins’ special teams were on fire Sunday evening at the Halifax Metro Centre (HMC). Five of the Bruins’ seven goals were a result of both power play and short-handed goals. The game’s first star, Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara had a goal and two assists to help power his team to a 7 - 3 victory over the rookie-filled Montreal Canadiens lineup.
It was just last March that Chara first created headlines when he steered Montreal Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty into a glass partition near the Habs’ bench that resulted in Pacioretty receiving a fractured vertebra and severe concussion. Tonight Chara created headlines on the score sheet. Pacioretty did not make the east coast trip. Pacioretty is slated to play on Monday night in Montreal at the Bell Centre; however Chara is not expected to play.
In front of a sold out (10,595 paid attendance) HMC, the atmosphere was playoff-like with a Montreal favoured crowd. Unfortunately, Boston took advantage of an inexperienced Montreal defence on Sunday night as four Habs-hopeful rookies were dressed to man the blue line.
Montreal opened the scoring at 6:55 on a Scott Gomez goal, but Boston stormed back with five unanswered goals to cement the victory. Canadiens rookies Brian Willsie and Aaron Palushaj had the other markers for Montreal. Habs’ netminder Peter Budaj played the entire game, facing 34 shots and took the loss for Montreal. Netminder Anton Khudobin played a strong game in nets for Boston as he stopped 27-of-30 Canadiens’ shots.
The announced three stars of the game were pro-Boston all the way: Defenseman Zach McKelvie (3rd star), hometown hero Brad Marchand (2nd star) and Chara (1st star).
The Canadiens now travel back to Montreal to face the same Boston Bruins again on Monday night.
Time to Evaluate the Players
The exhibition season is a time for the Montreal Canadiens’ coaching staff to evaluate the players that are ‘on the bubble’. With five games in six nights and with a depleted lineup, the Canadiens’ coaching staff is giving their AHL players and young prospects a chance to show their worth with the big club.
Sunday night’s ugly loss to Boston showed that the Canadiens need to have better puck management. Lots of work needs to be done by the players and coaching staff alike. The Bruins excelled on specialty teams and exposed one of Montreal’s major weaknesses with an inexperienced lineup.
Game Stats Review
Rookie Brendan Gallagher had another good game. He led the team with four shots. He has been consistent in the three games he has played for Les Habs. Gallagher continues to create opportunities for his linemates. I feel that Montreal would be doing Gallagher a gross disservice if they allow him to play the 2011-12 NHL season with the parent club. He should return to Vancouver for another junior season.
Aaron Palushaj and Brian Willsie both had a goal and an assist.
Defenseman Alexei Yemelin played well considering the final outcome.
Defenseman Alex Henry and Bruins’ forward Shawn Thornton had a nice tussle in Sunday night’s matchup, with a narrow margin of victory to Thornton.
**NOTE** Box score unavailable.
Until next time, play every game as if it is your last one…