Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damian Cox at ESPN,
This time, the pressure is all on the Bruins, and if they don’t treat the Canadiens like so much snow to be brushed off their skates, well, it will be the 2009 Eastern Conference champions who will suddenly appear more vulnerable than imposing.
Even the Bruins seem to understand that anything short of an impressive performance against the Habs will make them seem weaker.
“They’re going to have absolutely nothing to lose,” said Boston coach Claude Julien, who once coached the Canadiens and understands the emotional underpinnings of this rivalry. “We’ve got a lot to gain. We’ve got to make sure we don’t disappoint.”
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
You have to know that some people in this city have their priorities twisted out of shape when you see one of the city’s buses idling in Côte St. Luc with a sign flashing “Go! Canadiens! Go!”
Get real, folks: it’s only a number of hockey games involving the Canadiens and the Bruins. Seems to me there are a lot more important things to worry about, such as putting food on the table in homes where so many people have lost their jobs during an economic crisis that is likely to get worse before it gets better.
However, all I’m hearing and reading about these days is: “What’s better than a Canadiens-Bruins series?”
Sad to say: lots of things. Too many things. The earth won’t move if the Canadiens lose this series, which opens in Boston tonight. It won’t even if they move on to the second round.
All that’s certain is that you’re dreaming in Technicolor if you’re among those who think the Canadiens are likely winners simply because they’ve made a habit of doing it so often in the past against the Bruins.
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
Turning the other cheek in a playoff series usually occurs when your head swivels from a punch in the chops.
But that may well be one of huge keys for the Canadiens if they’re to upset the Bruins in their NHL quarterfinal series, beginning tomorrow night in Boston.
The ice at TD Banknorth Garden will still be wet when Mike Komisarek learns this, his photo probably pinned on a dartboard in the Bruins dressing room.
The Canadiens defenceman got a generous taste of Boston leather last Thursday, his face massaged by the gauntlets of Milan Lucic and used as a speed bag by Zdeno Chara in a boxing match that earned the Bruins captain a double minor for roughing, a great non-call in a game teeming with them.
from Elliotte Friedman of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
The Canadiens hit the iceberg this season, with Gainey’s reputation ripped apart like the Titanic’s hull. It’s as if 20-plus years of accomplishment have been wiped away by a province-wide case of amnesia.
And it’s why you can’t help but wonder if, win or lose (and it’s probably going to be the latter), Gainey walks away from the Canadiens once again. This time, for good.
It’s hard to make such a prediction with any certainty, because Gainey is the ultimate poker-face, someone who reveals little to even his closest confidants. (And, I am not one.) One person who is close to him told me in March that “it’s 50-50” the current coach/GM returns in 2009-10.
There is some of circumstantial evidence to suggest he won’t:
1) Gainey is clearly tired of the public scrutiny surrounding his hockey team, on and off the ice. One of his greatest strengths as both a player and an executive was the ability to keep calm in a maelstrom. There’ve been a few occasions this year where he’s snapped at questions, which is unusual for him.
from Sean Gordon of the Globe and Mail,
If the Montreal Canadiens are as ruthless maintaining their restraint and composure on the ice as they are at preserving their strict message discipline, the Boston Bruins are in for a stiff challenge.
Having already endured six months of crushing expectations in their centennial NHL season, the Habs are unmistakably lowering them for the postseason and focusing on more modest, incremental goals.
“We don’t have to beat [the Bruins], we need to win a game. We need to get into the series, and we need to get in with Game 1,” head coach Bob Gainey said in his customary measured tones. “I don’t have to think about how we beat them four times, how do we beat them once? We’re in eighth place, we may not like how our season unfolded. … We were in eighth place by the skin of our teeth, we’re going to have to play from that role, that’s what we are, that’s who we are.”
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
While the players will insist during the next few days it doesn’t matter which team they’ll be facing, I suspect they would prefer taking on Washington in the first round, and to do that they must finish as the No. 7 seed.
Why the Capitals? Why a team that has the NHL’s best player in Alex Ovechkin? A team that almost surely has this season’s Norris Trophy winner in Mike Green?
It starts with Jose Theodore.
from John Bishop of BostonBruins.com,
Despite his CHC pedigree, there’s no doubt that most members of the Boston Bruins organization would agree that compliments from Bob Gainey go a long way.
After the B’s 5-4 overtime victory over his Montreal Canadiens, Gainey, Montreal’s general manager and head coach, dolled out several puck bags full of respect for the Black & Gold
“It was a great game,” said Gainey. “I think, you have to give the Bruins credit—they came to play.
“They wanted to play hard. They brought all their tools with them. They were emotional. They were desperate and they’re a good team. They are in first place for a reason,” he said.
However, he was right about another thing: his Habs are not going to quit.
And, clearly, now that le bleu, blanc et rouge are in the playoffs, the standings simply don’t matter.
continued and check out the highlights of the game below…
But with puck-moving defencemen Mathieu Schneider and Andrei Markov on the shelf, the Habs have scored just three goals in their last two contests. Also, Montreal has been held to two or fewer goals in each of their last four games against the Bruins.
Some good news, however could be on the horizon. RDS reports that Schneider, who suffered an upper-body injury in Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, practiced with the club this morning and could be back in the lineup.
more on the Canadiens…
added 12:35pm, from Pat Hickey at Habs Inside/Out,
Coach Bob Gainey says there is a “good possibility” that defenceman Mathieu Schneider will be in the lineup tonight when the Canadiens face the Bruins in a “must-tie” game.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
And so the Rangers need just one more, need just one more victory in their final two games to clinch a playoff spot after taking advantage of Carey Price’s slipshod night in nets to defeat the Canadiens 3-1 at the Garden last night while the Panthers were being beaten 2-1 in Philadelphia….
The Blueshirts inexorably took the game away from the Canadiens over the final 40 minutes with a combination of smart work in the neutral zone, a five-in-the-picture look in the defensive zone and sustained forecheck work and down-low pressure in the offensive end. But they received an immeasurable boost from Price’s inability to keep his balance (and poise) or play his angles.
He was terrible when it mattered, which was in the first and early in the second, when the Blueshirts seemed both tentative and as if they were waiting for something bad to happen.
But when something bad happened, it was to Price, who surrendered a horrid short-side goal to Chris Drury at 13:14 of the first and then lost the puck behind the net to Sean Avery, who got it in front so that a headlong-diving Nik Antropov could chip it in for the eventual winner at 2:37 of the second.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org