Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bruins send Montreal into Habernation for the summer

In Montreal, summer vacation has arrived before April turns to May, a hopeful long run into the NHL playoffs cut short by a deflected shot in Overtime that propels the Bruins on to round two and the Canadiens on to their summer time ritual of rounds of golf.

The drama was so intense in Game 7 that the teams added time to the night to make things even more tense, but when the final goal went into a net, it was Carey Price looking backwards in dismay as the sound of relief and celebration bounced around the home side's rink, signalling a spring time advance for the Boston Bruins with a 4-3 sudden death victory.

Game seven provided all the thrills that were advertised, fast paced end to end action, scoring chances, hits, goals, as well as a come back burst for the Habs who had  fallen to a two goal deficit and by night's end some redemption for the Bruins, who twice had let leads get away from them, bringing them to the brink of disaster for a second year in a row.

The game got off to an ominous start for the Canadiens, as Boston took control of the play and quickly jumped to that two goal lead, a cushion that could very well have been the margin of victory on most nights, but on this final game of the series would prove to be but a temporary diversion for a focused Montreal squad.

With no sense of panic on the ice, the Habs battled their way back, chipping away at the Bruins lead taking the punishment in front of the net and along the boards to muck out the puck from the corners, eventually finding the two markers that would draw the teams even until the third period.

The Bruins again took the lead midway through the third period as Chris Kelly proved to be a worthy nemesis with a backhand shot from in front of the net to put the Bruins one goal up and take the crowd to frenzy status in anticipation.

An untimely penalty however  with less than two and half minutes to go however gave Montreal new life, as PK Subban, who it would seem is not a crowd favourite at the TD Garden silenced the fanatical mob with his power play blast that was launched into the back of the Bruins net at the eighteen minute mark.

Some wild play from end to end brought period three to an end without further scoring, setting the stage for yet another Overtime period in this remarkable first round of hockey, where extra time has seemingly become the norm across the NHL this spring.

Nathan Horton achieved hero status for round one in Boston, his Overtime marker almost six minutes into the extra period would prove the clincher, a deflected shot from the point that changed direction on Carey Price and found the back of the Canadiens net, bringing an end to the hopeful dreams along Rue Sainte Catherine and beyond.

For the Bruins, it was a declaration that perhaps this year was to be different after all, memories of their 3-0 collapse last season against the Flyers finally banished, though now those very same Flyers will be back to torment Bostonians once again.

Montreal while providing for some entertaining hockey this post season, simply couldn't match up with the Bruins size wise in the series, in game seven the Bruins for the most part were constantly in the Habs face, checking the puck carrier (and perhaps a few that didn't even see the disc), standing up at the Blue line or turning back the Habs at centre ice.

Though to the second to last shift, the Habs continued to the attack, pushing into the Boston zone and finding opportunity but no finish.

And while there will be disappointment at their first round exit, there were some promising signs for Montreal for the years to come, both Price and PK Subban stepped into the spotlight this playoff year and seemed comfortable in that glow. They provided a valuable contribution in this playoff drive, gaineing valuable experience for the campaigns to come.

On the other side of the comfort level however, both high profile Habs Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez seemed to have their problems getting untracked in the series, sometimes it seemed that they were a step behind their Bruin competition, a scenario that surely disappointed both who had hoped to find much more success along the path of this year's Stanley Cup trail.

For this year, that trail has come to an end, the Bruins moving further along, the Habs holding up to reflect on their year and the changes that will need to come should they hope to be participants beyond the first round in 2011-12.

You can examine the full review of this highly entertaining series from our Stanley Cup review section, click here for the reviews from both Boston and Montreal.

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