Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Boston Bruins on Paper - War of words escalates in advance of Pivotal Game 3 in Montreal

Momentum is such a fickle thing in hockey - if you don't seize it, it will envelope you and eventually chew you up and spit you out.

That said and true, it's time for the Boston Bruins to bring the hammer down on the Montreal Canadiens.

Game three on Tuesday night should feature more of this...
No, not the "German Hammer" Dennis Seidenberg - though him coming back from torn knee ligaments would be cause for much happy jabbering and celebration amongst the faithful of the Black and Gold - but to bring down the hammer on the Canadiens in Tuesday night's third installment of thier best-of-seven Eastern Conference Semifinals faceoff.

The Montreal Canadiens had the momentum taken from them in Game 1 when the Bruins found their legs with about five minutes left in the second period, blowing a two goal lead before eventually winning in double overtime - and although they ultimately got the result on the scoreboard that they desired, their game disintegrated with every tick of the clock...

...the Bruins shoving them around the ice until an uncharacteristic lapse in judgement gave the Canadiens the man advantage in overtime, and though it seemed to the layman's eye that Montreal had come out and again grasped the momentum in the first two periods of Game 2, nothing could be further from the truth - and when the Bruins' snipers started finding the range on their shots, the Habs were finished...

So going into the Bell Centre in Montreal on Tuesday night, the Bruins really don't have a lot of adjustments to make with their lineup - what they've had on the ice has been downright dominant at winning time - just come out fast, score first, then bury the Canadiens in front of their home fans to seize back the home ice advantage that the Habs took from them in Game 1.

Oh, and try to stay out of the penalty box.

Then come back and do the same thing in Game 4 on Thursday to take away their will - because it goes without saying that the crowd in Montreal is of the rabid-dog variety, and if their Habs get the early lead the Bruins will never hear the end of it.

Bruins' Projected Lineup


Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Daniel Paille - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Jordan Caron - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Defensive pairings

Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller


Tuukka Rask
Chad Johnson

The only noticeable change for either team will be in the defensive pairings, where Boston brings back Matt Bartkowski following a one-game hiatus after having a rough go of it in Game One, while the Canadiens counter with big-bodied but seldom used defenseman Douglas Murray in place of garden gnome Francis Bouillon in an attempt to gain a bit more physicality on the blue line.

Of course, Murray has at least a half a foot and nearly 50 pounds on Bouillon - who will be relegated to the press box as a healthy scratch - and will be paired with Bouillon's fellow gnome Mike Weaver on Montreal's third defensive pairing.

In actuality, Bouillon has been a healthy scratch almost 30 times this season, but not since the Habs picked up Weaver on the trade deadline as the two have formed a pretty dependable third pairing - but it's no secret that the two have not made the Bruins pay along the boards enough to impact their play.

"There's no secret what he brings," Canadiens' captain Brian Gionta said of Murray. "He's a big body who can grind their forwards down low. Great on the penalty kill. He's big for this team."

 Canadiens' Projected Lineup


Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Tomas Vanek
Rene Bourque - Lars Eller - Brian Gionta
Michael Bournival - Tomas Plekanic - Brendan Gallgher
Ryan White - Danny Briere - Dale Weise

Defensive pairings

Josh Gorges - P.K. Subban
Andrei Markov - Alexei Emelin
Douglas Murray - Mike Weaver


Carey Price
Peter Budaj

Therrien has tinkered with the lineup and shifted second and third lines, but has also succeeded in shifting the focus away from his team's deficiencies by calling out the Bruins - salvo after salvo fired across enemy lines as a war of words (mostly from Therrien) has erupted - mostly focused on goaltender Carey Price.

On Sunday, Price started the soap opera by claiming that he thought that the three goals that the Bruins scored on him in the third period were "lucky" - and when the Bruins' countered by stating that they have found a weakness in Price's game, words escalated...

...then on Monday, Therrien accused of the Bruins of seeking unfair advantage by barking at the referees - for which Boston coach Claude Julien was assessed a bench minor for unsportsman-like conduct in Game 2...

"I thought they got away with a lot of things, as far as we're concerned," Therrien said. "But they try to influence referees. That's the way they are. That's not going to change. That's the way they like to do their things, but for us we're not paying attention to those things, honestly."

He's not paying attention, but decided to mention it anyway - but came up short when it came to coming to his goaltender's defense when informed of Boston blue liners Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton's statement that they've been aiming high on everything shot at Price, exposing a weakness in his armor.

Price had already countered the two young defensemen's comments by stating ""I've seen a lot of scouting reports on lots of goalies throughout the League, and that's pretty much the scouting report on everybody, It's a pretty irrelevant comment, I thought."

Price actually did a pretty decent job of not making a mountain out of a molehill - taking into account that Krug and Hamilton are young and not terribly experienced in keeping bulletin board material to themselves - but Therrien wasn't going to skip the opportunity to denounce the Bruins as blowhards.

"Whatever comments they make on us, I'm not a coach that's going to start making comments on the other team," Therrien said.  But since he was already on the subject, he continued. "It's never been my philosophy; I don't like that. They can say whatever they want, that's their choice, but we know what we have to do get success."

So do the Bruins, Michel, and a lot of that is borne in not paying attention to the hype or the war of words.

Oh, and staying out of the penalty box, not giving P. K. Subban so much room to skate around on the power play and shooting high on Price, which the Bruins will continue to do and hope for the best on Tuesday night.

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