Okay, that’s not great. No one likes to lose the first game. And maybe if it wasn’t for a poor first period and a needless crosschecking penalty late in the game, they might not have lost this first game. But it’s all hindsight. Lousy, rotten, gut-wrenching %$&#@ hindsight. Habs go down 4-2 in game one.
Yes, it was only 2-1 Bruins after the first period, which usually means the other team is keeping it close. But the Habs, maybe reading in the papers that they didn’t stand a chance, came out and played like a beer league team against a bunch of ringers. They let the Bruins play keep-away. They’d looked almost sheepish and tentative. Only Georges Laraque made an impact. Georges probably played the most minutes of his season, and he made his stand against Boston’s roughnecks. And his message seemed to be taken to heart.
Players like Milan Lucic, Shawn Thornton, and Zdeno Charo started to think a little about should they or shouldn’t they attempt to fight Laraque. They decided not to, with the help sometimes of the linesmen. And you could say that these Bruins were just being smart and not being goaded in, but Georges still sent his message. Boston no longer had their way with the Habs.
The second period was different. Alex Tanguay came within a whisker of scoring. Glen Metropolit played well on this night against his old team, and broke in on a rare three-on-one to no avail. And finally, Alex Kovalev fired a laser past Tim Thomas and the game was tied. No more keep-away by the Bruins. No more tentativeness from Montreal. Maybe it was because of Georges Laraque’s presence. But all of sudden, Lucic, Chara and company weren’t so much in the forefront, and the Boston crowd began to think that maybe they needed another eight dollar beer or three.
Even in the third, the momentum belonged to the Habs, for a while at least. But everything changed when Josh Gorges took a cross checking penalty and Chara blasted one home from the point. After that, it was beer league against ringers once again. The game was decided when the penalty was called. And the Bruins iced it with an empty-netter.
Saturday night the Habs need a better first period. No unnecessary penalties throughout. And most of all, the Canadiens have to believe. Maybe because of Georges Laraque, they do now.