If it wasn’t for Carey Price, the Boston Bruins would’ve fought back from more than a 3-0 deficit. They almost overcame a bunch of Hab greats in the building, an anxious dropping-of-the-puck by Elmer Lach and Emile ‘Butch’ Bouchard that had me a little worried for Butch, a fired-up crowd, and the rest of us in TV land who only had eyes on the Canadiens.
And the Montreal Canadiens got no help at all from the supposedly state-of-the-art Bell Centre.
It began like a Disney movie. The interviews with Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur, the old players introduced – Henri Richard, Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe and many others, the vintage photos and films, the lavish praise from hockey analysts, and most importantly, three big goals in the first period by Alex Kovalev, Saku Koivu, and Maxim Lapierre.
It was a perfect script. Better start drawing up the parade route plans.
But then, disturbingly, the Canadiens adrenaline, for whatever reason, dried up half-way through, and little by little, only Price was there to keep it close. So much for the classic third-period team I talked about yesterday. Montreal proved that first-period hockey absolutely isn’t good enough.
Shamefully, it was a construction flaw that almost turned a great night into a complete disaster. An innocent shoot-in that hit an obvious seam in the boards that fooled Price, banged in by the Bruins’ Marc Savard, and with only 47 seconds to go, the game was tied.
It’s unacceptable for the boards to have this flaw. Montreal brass better have a good long talk with the maintenance foreman.
In the end, Alex Tanguay scored the shootout winner and the night was salvaged. But it’s not good. Montreal has to play a full sixty minutes. Thankfully it’s early in the season and they can learn a big lesson from this.
This is how the Canadiens almost lost the opening round series to Boston in last year’s playoff, by not keeping the pedal to the metal.
So there’s still some fine-tuning to be done.
But it’s two points. And for now, that’s good enough.
Georges Laraque, in his first game in a Habs uniform, in the first two and a half minutes of the game, had a good scrap with Bruins’ Shawn Thornton. And although it was fairly even, Laraque made his presence felt, which I’m sure is what he wanted to do.
The crowd started to boo Guillaume Latendresse a little tonight. He has to pick it up a little.
Next up – The Phoenix Coyotes visit the Bell Centre Saturday. You can bet the boards will be fixed by then.