Tonight your Boston Bruins traveled North of the Border to take on their longtime rivals, the Montreal Canadiens. The Bruins were looking to build upon their win last night vs. the Rags; whereas the Habs were looking for anything positive as they’ve gone winless in their 10 previous games heading into tonight’s game at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens honored one of the sport’s brightest stars prior to puck drop as HHOF Guy Lafleur passed away Friday due to lung cancer. The Flower was on another level during his career and received the tribute that Patrick Roy had called for. Roy said that he hoped teams across the NHL didn’t have a moment of silence for Lafleur but instead he implored fans to “raise the roof with an ovation worthy of the thrills that Lafleur created on the ice.” The fans obviously got St. Patrick’s message as they honored their fallen hero with a 10-minute+ standing ovation with chants of “Guy – Guy – Guy” echoing through the barn. In front of a packed house including former teammates of Lafleur’s, and with the boards stripped of all advertising and instead showing Lafleur’s signature, number and dates; the Canadiens honored The Flower with a fantastic video tribute along with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way”. What an outstanding tribute to an outstanding player. RIP Gone too soon.
The Bruins left David Pastrnak and Hampus Lindholm home for the trip, which was planned by the training staff. Per HC Bruce Cassidy, the plan all along was to not have either player skate in the back to backs, so settle down Francis; they both are fine. With Pasta out the Bergeron and Coyle lines remained the same, but Tomas Nosek slid up to play alongside Erik Haula and Taylor Hall. Marc McLaughlin (the pride of N Billerica) slotted in on the 4th line with Nick Foligno and Curtis Lazar. On the back end, Mike Reilly was back in, paired with Brandon Carlo while Matt Grzelcyk skated top pair with Charlie McAvoy. Derek Forbort and Connor Clifton remained as the 3rd pair. Jeremy Swayman got the nod in net vs. Sam Montembeault who was in net for the Bleu Blanc et Rouge.
Patrice Bergeron got the B’s on the board with about 5 minutes played in the first when he finished off a Jake DeBrusk rebound to claim 4th all time on the Bruins goal list. The sequence started with some terrific wall work and effort by Brad Marchand. The Little Ball of Effort initiated the play high on the left wing and then worked his way down the wall behind the Montreal net. Marchy fought through 3 different MTL skaters to find DeBrusk at the post but Montembeault made the save (but didn’t control the rebound) and it popped to Bergy alone in front. 1-0 good guys.
Later in the first, Haula was awarded a penalty shot for a phantom call on a Mike Hoffman “slash”. On the replay you can clearly see Hoffman’s stick miss Haula’s but when Haula “accidentally” dropped his stick, the ref made the call and sent Haula to center ice. Lining up behind the puck, Haula did his best Dean Youngblood imitation when he over skated the puck BUT DID NOT TOUCH IT, and circled back to start again. Coming down on a (I’m guessing) confused Montembeault, Haula beat him over the glove to put the Bruins up by a pair. Per rule 24.4 of the NHL Rule Book :
The puck must be kept in motion towards the opponent’s goal line and once it is shot, the play shall be considered complete.
Much like Youngblood with his legendary circling of the puck: the fact that Haula didn’t touch the puck means he could go back and start over. Think of it as a practice swing. Wait a minute, Youngblood wore #10 and Lafleur also wore #10…. Nevermind.
The Bruins took the lead into the 2nd period but had some penalties to kill off to start the middle stanza. Jeff Petry made himself no new fans on the Bruins’ roster when he green lit Bergeron coming into the Canadiens zone. Marchand immediately jumped him (I mean lately Marchy’s got hands of stone, so not a bad call using them to pummel someone?). At the end of regulation, Trent Frederic went over to voice his displeasure with Petry’s play and earned himself a 2-minute unsportsmanlike to put the B’s down 2 to open the period. The Bruins killed off the first penalty but in the “vulnerable minute” as Homeboy Jack likes to say, a loose puck in the slot found Josh Anderson and his backhand slid under Swayman’s leg to put MTL on the board. It looked like Anderson missed on the backhand and didn’t get it up over Swayman’s leg as Swayman anticipated. Ironically, if Anderson got the shot he wanted, I think Sway would have had it.
Just over 2 minutes later Butchie’s move to put Nosek up on the 2nd line paid off as he and Haula combined to put the B’s back up by a deuce. Cliffy fed Nosek breaking up through the neutral zone and he drove the net on the right wing with Haula busting to the cage. Watch Nosek on his off wing as he just subtly opens up his hips to feed the puck with a perfect seam pass for the punch in. Plays like that are why Nosek is Hal’s ( @halshottakes ) favorite player.
Big time players like big time moments : In the closing minutes of the 2nd (again during 4 on 4 play) Chuckie Bright Lights had the dagger from the point. A clean win at the dot from Bergeron (where have I heard that before?), went right to McAvoy who gathers the puck and waits….just a second for the slot to fill before putting a wrister on net. Over blocker and that’s game.
Well, it would have been game if the boys were only playing 40 minutes. Apparently no one told them they were playing all 60, as they seemed content to keep the Canadiens on the perimeter and ride out the clock. First McLaughlin airmailed a puck over the glass to put the B’s on the PK and a bomb from Hoffman off the face-off beats Swayman to put the Canadiens back in it. I mean, if I know Hoffman’s the shooter, you’d think the B’s would know too.
Nick Suzuki closed the gap to 1 when the Bruins went for change on the back check? Yup you read that right, the same idiotic play you make in your beer league happens in NHL rinks too. The MTL fore-check popped the puck to Suzuki alone in the slot and Swayman had no chance.
The Bruins survived sloppiness in their end and their inexplicable issues clearing the puck tonight to get the W (Bergy with an ENG to seal it) and head home to face the FLA Panthers on Tue night. Au revoir Montreal.
Play the music – Goalie Hug (on the road)
In honor of Guy Lafleur and the beautiful ceremony the Canadiens put on tonight, I’m going to skip Plus/Minus and Game Notes for tonight and just post the ceremony.
Qu’il repose en paix et que sa famille trouve réconfort dans son souvenir.
May he rest in peace and may his family find comfort in his memory.