I would’ve at least broke the exit sign after that one.where is the passion or the anger ? None
— Chris Nilan (@KnucklesNilan30) March 13, 2014
Prior to last night’s tilt in Montreal, I think a bigger deal was made about the Bruins five-game losing “streak” against the Canadiens than the actual reality. That’s five games spread over two seasons. None of them were playoff games. It’s not like this was pre-1988 all over again when the Habs had a rent-controlled studio nestled alongside every Bruins fan’s cerebellum. And it’s not like the losses last year had any ill effect on the Bruins season. But the Bruins playing the Canadiens ALWAYS has at least a touch more significance than the other 28 teams in the league; it’s not the best rivalry in sports for nothing.
So there was usual anticipation of expecting the Bs to get porked on a call (“Montreal typical”) and/or losing on some chintzy goal. Instead, the Bruins manhandled the Habs, 4-1, after weathering a first period onslaught (weathered thanks in large part to Tuukka Rask). Once again, the Bs got balanced scoring as the top three lines scored and Zdeno Chara effectively put a bow on it :23 into the final stanza to round out the offensive attack. Carl Soderberg once again showed off his deft touch in close when he notched his 12th of the year early in the second. Heart-and-soul man Patty Bergeron finished off a sweet give-and-go with Brad Marchand to double the lead with his 19th about eight minutes later. Nine minutes after that, Milan Lucic’s 20th was the equivalent of a stink bomb in the stands given how many people screwed after his goal made it 3-0. Way to keep the faith, Frenchy (or maybe they knew there’s no way they were scoring three goals in 20 minutes off of Rask?). Rask stopped 35 out of 36 shots and really earned his keep in the first, when the Habs predictably came out flying and definitely had a step on the Bs. He came within a third period goal of his seventh shutout (his six lead the league). And perhaps most importantly, he had a very good game against a team he has not historically fared well against, for whatever reason.
With the win, the Bruins extended their divisional lead over Montreal to 14 points and pushed them down to third place in the division, their 77 points one behind Toronto’s 78. They also have two games in hand on both. Their 91 points have them one behind Pittsburgh for the lead in the Wales. Barring a ’78 Sox-like collapse, the Bs should lock up the division easily and be guaranteed to play one of the wild card teams (I don’t like this Wild Card shit either). The aim here for the last 17 games is to stay at an even keel while remaining the well-oiled machine they are and to stay injury-free. Right now, they’re humming along just fine and playing arguably their best hockey of the year.
A few more buds for your St. Patty’s Day bowl…
*Best wishes to Rich Peverley and here’s hoping he makes a full recovery.
*I loved hearing Dave Goucher on the radio broadcast mention how empty the building was…a few different times.
*Hey Bettman, three years later and there are STILL tons of places that do not have NBCSN, including major hotel chains that NHL beat writers stay in. When asked in Vegas in June of 2011, you said that the league was “working on it” and that it would happen soon. But that was bullshit, apparently.
*Chara was third among D with 22:59 of ice. Matt Bartkowski and Johnny Boychuk played slightly more, with Bart’s 23:24 leading the way. I wouldn’t mind seeing Claude scale back the captain’s minutes (as well as his goalie’s) as the team gets closer to the playoffs. We need them both fresh for the Cup run.
*In the two games Andrej Meszaros has played, Dougie Hamilton has been the odd man out for the defense. My eyebrow was mildly raised when he got the scratch last night given the way Claude swapped his D in and out earlier in the year. I don’t think it’s anything punitive but rather, of the guys available, coaches feel he could use a bird’s eye view the most. But I got no complaints with the 20-year-old. That’s not to say the kid is perfect but rather he’s still very young for a position that takes the longest to develop. So I’m not expecting a flawless game just yet. The kid is still scratching the surface.
*Jordan Caron filled in for Dan Paille on the fourth line as Paille recuperates from what was termed a “mild concussion” after Ed Jovanovski checked him into the glass on Sunday in Florida. He had two shots, two hits, 2 PIM, and was a -1 in 10:50 of ice. Caron didn’t go anywhere at the trade deadline and the front office doesn’t seem as eager to cut bait as its fan base does. But management probably figures that they already have him signed for short money so they might as well get something out of it (he’ll be RFA again this summer). I mean, he’s the 13th forward, it’s not a big deal right now, particularly when the Bs will have a handful of guys on the taxi squad to choose from in the playoffs. Though he’s still only 23, Caron doesn’t project to be anything more than a bottom-six guy at this point. And that’s if he fulfills his potential. He has good size and when he’s engaged, he can battle though he hasn’t shown much scoring touch. But consistency has been an issue as has, to be fair, regular ice time (that old hockey version of the chicken and the egg). The Bs will need to decide this summer whether they want to give him another crack or trade his rights elsewhere. If UFA-to-be Shawn Thornton re-ups, as is expected, then there’s really nowhere in the line-up for him.
*As if part of a script or something, the Habs got the first power play of the game 3:43 into it when Andrej Meszaros was whistled for interference just for having the audacity to play the body against Brendan Gallagher. A putrid call even Pierre dumped on. *If you like Canucks schadenfreude then this has been a great season. Team is just falling apart at the seams. Assistant coaches arguing with each other coming off the ice. GM trading two #1 goalies away in less than a year and not getting a #1 in return. A coach whose Jim Harbaugh style his players are already sick of. Man, this team has sunk far since its SCF appearance just three years ago. And it couldn’t happen to a better squad.
*Have you heard of “NHL Revealed: A Season Like No Other”? Probably not because NBC/NBCSN either marketed it horribly or didn’t market it at all. Other than its own network, I hardly saw any support or promos. And that’s too bad because it was another great fly-on-the-wall, behind-the-scenes NHL reality show in the vein of HBO’s excellent “24/7”. But instead of tailing two teams, ‘Revealed’ focused on the teams playing in the stadium games in addition to the teams they played so there’s a diverse selection of teams and players that pop up to crack wise or score a goal. All episodes have aired but NBCSN will be replaying them a shitload in the next few days so you can set your DVRs. Definitely worth a watch if you’re a pucks guy or gal.
*We get a peek of the NHL office taking the trade calls from the teams and starting the paperwork process to make everything official. Then we see guys either departing now old teams or arriving at new teams. The scene with Stephane Robidas and Corey Perry, two guys who fought recently and have battled hard over the last decade, was pretty good and what you expect from these guys—“Hey, how are you?” Perry greets him with as he extends his hand. From hated enemy to guy you go to battle with. Because it’s all about one thing.
*The line from Dale Tallon to Roberto Luongo—“Maybe you sitting out the Heritage Classic was a bonus for us, worked out great”—cracked me up.
*How about NBCSN adding sounds effects to Chara plastering Pacioretty into the stanchion? Haha, some Skywalker Ranch shit going on up in this muhfug. Somebody had to sit and think, “What can we do to emphasize that the player’s melon smacked off that immovable pole? How about we splice in a loud “PING!” from a slap shot hitting the post just as his head smacks into that piece of metal with a sponge on it? Yeah, that’ll do.” (Here’s actual