Special teams, special teams, special teams. It was a massive strength for the Bruins in their series win over Detroit (the B’s were 6 for 16 on the power play, and held Detroit to 2 PP goals in 20 chances). In just one game, however, the Canadiens have already equaled Detroit’s total power play production. PK Subban scored a pair of power play goals for the Habs. The first gave Montreal a 1-0 lead, the second gave the Habs a 4-3 win.
Meanwhile the Bruins power play went 0 for 2.
I would say that special teams was the deciding difference in the game, but it wasn’t. The difference was goaltending. The Bruins came into the series with likely Vezina winner Tuukka Rask in net, and the Habs brought Carey Price, who was unspectacular in Montreal’s sweep over Tampa Bay. Price had a .904 save percentage in that series, with a GAA of 2.33. But it was Price who was vastly superior to Rask in Game 1.
Price stopped 48 shots, 19 more than Rask. Price also had more difficult stops to make. He played so well that he affected how the Bruins attacked. At times the Bruins tried to be too fancy with too many passes and too many moves in an effort to beat Price. It wasn’t until the B’s went back to basics that they were successful.
Montreal’s second and third goals were saves that Rask should make. The first goal he was screened by his own players. But the second goal simply beat him high, and the third goal he had a perfectly clear view of and still got beat. So far this morning the media narrative for this game seems focused on missed offensive opportunities. I disagree. Rask didn’t play up to the level he’s capable of, and that should be the focus.
Rask only faced 6 shots in the 3rd and he let 1 of them in. If not for Johnny Boychuk‘s goal with under 2 minutes left, Rask and the Bruins lose the game in regulation.
Those missed opportunities were frustrating. But I don’t consider hitting the post to be “unlucky.” It’s a miss. The goal is 4′ x 6′ and always has been and the posts are outside of the goal. When basketball players hit the rim it isn’t unlucky, same goes for field goals in football that hit an upright and ricochet out.
The Bruins’ young defensemen were exposed in this game. Torey Krug scored a goal but his miscues also led to 2 Montreal goals. Matt Bartkowski committed an unwarranted holding penalty that led to Subban’s game-winner 7 seconds later. I miss Dennis Seidenberg. I miss Adam McQuaid. I miss Andrew Ference.
On the bright side, Brad Marchand finally scored some points with 2 assists. The Bergeron line was +2. However the Krejci line was -1, so was the Merlot line. And as mentioned, the Bruins were -2 on special teams.
I’m a little worried. After Dennis Seidenberg went down the Bruins penalty kill went through some tough times. They seemed to sort it out at the end of the regular season, and they shut down Detroit. But you’re only as good as your last game. Which is great news because Game 2 is Saturday afternoon at 12:30 on NBC, which means the Bruins have a chance to improve their special teams. And their goaltending.