Habs Take Stranglehold Over Tampa in ECQF

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Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

It is as close to a perfect game as it gets, and it left the Montréal Canadiens with a two game series lead, and left the Tampa Bay Lightning paying a hefty price – no pun intended.

Despite the Bolts looking hungry immediately after the initial puck drop, it was the Habs that showed consistency and speed, and that was the difference maker.

There was a ton of improvement over their game one performance. The forwards showed great support to the defensive unit, the turnover rate was much improved, and the goaltending of Carey Price was outstanding. Price stopped 26 of 27 shots (.962SV%), and he looked flawless and back to his normal self.

David Desharnais also got the 0-for power play monkey off the teams back, as he opened the scoring early in the second on the man advantage.

But the night – surprisingly – belonged to Rene Bourque. His highlight reel goal, as he split the defence, avoided Anders Lindback’s poke check, and steered the puck inside the post to light the lamp, seemed to be indicative as to how the rest of the game would be played.

It was a night of speed and tape to tape passing. Les Boys controlled every facet of the ice. They exited their defensive zone effectively, shut down the neutral zone, and cycled well in Tampa’s region of the ice.

Celebrations, however, need to be put aside. Although the team has taken a commanding position in this series, memories of the not-so-distant past are lingering with players and coaching staff alike.

In 2011, Montréal walked away from Boston’s TD Garden after taking the first two from the Bruins, only to go on and lose that series in seven games. The postseason of 2006 saw the Canadiens take the two opening games from the Hurricanes on Carolina ice, only to have the Canes take the next four straight to eliminate the Habs.

Granted, the Lightning are hardly a comparable team to the ’11 Bruins or the ’06 Canes, but those memories are still close at hand. There is still plenty more hockey to be played, and this is not the time to get cocky.

Brendan Gallagher put it this way:

“You don’t want to take your foot off the pedal. Going up 1-0 on the power play gave us momentum and we have to keep pushing.” ~B. Gallagher

We’ll find out Sunday if Les Glorieux manage to keep that pedal firmly suppressed.

Puck drops just after 19h00 in front of 21,273 fans in Le Centre Bell. Join us on Twitter @BleedBBR for live in-game Tweeting.

The game can be watched on CBC and listened to on TSN690.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Postgame Report | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadiens Outlast Lightning in Game One

Habs CelebrateWritten By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

In a fast paced, ping pong style game that saw top stars explode, flashes of brilliant hockey followed immediately by serious errors, and unsung heroes rise to the occasion, it’s hard to believe this was only game one of the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs. If this is any suggestion of the future – WOW!

Both the Habs and the Bolts went into this series literally in a dead heat in regards to skill, speed, and determination, and most people believe it’s one of the tighter match-ups for the opening round of the Playoffs. Neither team disappointed as far as that thought goes. At least not as far as the scoring went.

But there were areas that were completely mismatched between these teams, and they can’t be ignored heading into the remainder of this series.

The shots on goal count will most definitely be a topic of discussion on both sides of the fence, and this will be a happy discussion for head coach Michel Therrien. La Flanelle severely outshot the Lightning 43-25, with the majority of Tampa’s shots coming in the third period and overtime.

Yet despite seeing very little action, Carey Price can not be happy allowing 4 goals on only 25 shots (.840 SV%). Granted, they were not all on him as far as blame goes. Defensive errors and giveaways were what allowed a couple of those goals to be scored. But even though – as usual – Price showed moments of brilliance, he wasn’t in his best form.

The giveaway discussion will be a team discussion for both squads. Before heading into overtime, four of the eight goals scored by both teams were the result of giveaways. Two on each team. You can’t expect to win hockey at this level allowing that many giveaways to your opposition.

The biggest black hole in the Canadiens game tonight was in the faceoff circle. They managed to win only about 25% of the puck drops, and even when winning the draw, poor player positioning often resulted in le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge losing possession right away. There will have to be a substantial increase in this area of their game to allow for better success.

weisecelebratesgame-winninggoal_4085-430x298Despite all of that, Montreal held off a very powerful team, and poured on the pressure in OT allowing unlikely hero Dale Weise to open himself up in front of Lindback to top shelf the game winning goal.

Also on the scorecard for the Habs were Brian Gionta, Lars Eller, Thomas Vanek, and Tomas Plekanec.

Scorers for Tampa were Killorn, Stamkos (2), and Kucherov.

Both teams will get back to work tomorrow in preparation for Friday nights game at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Pregame is on CBC at 18h30 followed by puck drop shortly after 19h00.

Join us on Twitter @BleedBBR for live in-game Tweeting.

 

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Postgame Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Canadiens Begin Playoff Run in Tampa

Round 1Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

It’s hours before puck drop and fans all over the country as well as the globe are anticipating a strong showing from their Montreal Canadiens tonight.

Over the past two days, the Habs have been working on their late season deficiencies on both rinks in Brossard, before departing on an early morning flight to Tampa today. Coach Michel Therrien spoke of the lack of 5 on 5 scoring, and how it becomes more difficult during the post-season. Which leads to the importance of the power-play.

“When you get a chance to get momentum on the PP, we’re going to make sure we do that.” ~ Michel Therrien

With the power-play going 0-23 during the last eight games in the regular season, the team spent a lot of the practice time focussing on making vast improvement for when they get those opportunities against the Lightning. The first power-play unit at practice had Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais, and Thomas Vanek up front with Andrei Markov and P.K. Subban on the blue line. The second unit had Daniel Briere, along with Tomas Plekanec, and Brendan Gallagher, while Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges took the point. Rene Bourque rotated in on the second line of forwards.

The good news for Les Boys came with the announcement that Lars Eller will make his return tonight after being out of the line-up for several games with the flu. Also announced after this mornings optional skate was that Brandon Prust will be in the line-up this evening after missing 12 games (upper body injury), and will most likely be playing alongside Plekanec and Gallagher.

“He’s had two good practices with our team,” coach Michel Therrien told reporters in Tampa about Prust. ”He’s excited and we’re all excited about him being back in the lineup. He’s a leader, he’s a tough guy to play against, he’s got speed and, most importantly, he’s a gamer.” ~ M. Therrien

Carey Price will be the starter for La Flanelle, with much to prove after some less than impressive past Playoff appearances. Coming off a career high season and a Gold Medal win in Sochi, he will be determined to improve on his career 9-17 playoff record with a 2.90 goals-against average and .905 save percentage.

Tampa coach Jon Cooper confirmed that Ben Bishop will miss the first game, but would not concede who would get the start in his place.

The puck drops just after 19h00 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Join us on Twitter @BleedBBR for in-game live Tweeting. The game can be seen on CBC, RDS, and heard on TSN Radio 690.

Posted in 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Pregame Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Win A Markov Autographed Habs Logo Card

Markov AutographWritten By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

Want to add an Andrei Markov autographed Habs logo card to your Montreal Canadiens collection?

Help BBBR get to 200 followers on Twitter, and we’ll place your name in a draw for the card pictured here.

And while you’re at it, make sure you follow our BBBR FaceBook page as well, and share this with all your followers!

Thanks for the support and see you for the playoffs – Good Luck!

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Canadiens Finish Season On The Right Note

Gionta Win

Written By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

It was a fitting end to a solid season, as the Habs took to the Bell Centre ice in front of 21,273 fans to complete the 2013-14 campaign.

Coming away from back to back losses to Chicago and the Islanders, Les Boys looked to bounce back and complete the season on an up note before heading into the post season.

The team seemed flat early on, but managed to gain some speed nearly halfway into the contest. As usual, Molson Cup winner Carey Price carried the team as he turned away 41 shots on goal. It took until 2:04 of the overtime frame before Captain Brian Gionta found the back of the net, snapping over 120 minutes of scoreless hockey for Le Tricolore. Gionta was awarded a penalty shot after being tripped by former Montreal Canadien Raphael Diaz.

The win gave Montreal it’s 100th point of the season, and a boost heading into the post season, however the lack of shots over the past two contests has got to be a concern for head coach Michel Therrien.

It will now be up to the Tampa Bay Lightning to secure home ice advantage with a win in their final game Sunday afternoon against the Washington Capitals.

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins on Tuesday night.

Posted in 2013-2014 NHL Season, Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Postgame Report | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Habs Close Out Season Against the Rangers

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Written By: Andrea Gordon, BBBR

The Montreal Canadiens are looking to close out the 2013-2014 NHL season on a high note.

The Habs go into Saturday night’s contest having lost two straight games to the Chicago Blackhawks and what can only be called a “B” team ,the New York Islanders.  Thursday night the Islanders went in to the game with a roster boasting 12 rookie players, and they managed to emerge victorious 2-0 over Les Glorieux. The loss put a dent in the Habs chances of having home ice advantage going in to round one. With Tampa having won their game, they essentially control where the series will begin as they still have 2 games remaining to Montreal’s one.

It was a lack luster performance for the Habs, who seemed to have nothing left in the tank after losing to Chicago in Overtime the previous night.

One can only hope that the playoff bound Montreal Canadiens are the ones who show up to face the Rangers on Saturday. One key piece will be out of the line up both tonight and for round 1 of the playoffs as Alex Galchenyuk is out injured (Lower Body). Word on Brandon Prust is the team is hopeful he’ll be able to go in time for the first round.

Lars Eller is doubtful to play as he is still suffering from flu-like symptoms, Michael Blunden was called up from the Hamilton Bulldogs today in case Eller cannot play.

The Rangers come into the Bell Centre on a two game winning streak and in a playoff position, boasting wins over the Carolina Hurricanes and and Buffalo Sabers.

It was a rocky start to the season for the Rangers, with a lot of talk about firing new coach Alain Vigneault early on, but they soldiered on and currently sit second in the Metropolitan division four points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers.

It’s been a low scoring series between this two teams thus far. In two games a total of 3 goals have been scored and two shutouts have been recorded.  The first game , on October 28th, saw the Habs blank the Rangers 2-0 on the night the newly renovated Madison Square Garden re-opened, the Habs playing the spoilers oh so well. A few weeks later the Habs played host to the Rangers in what was a 1-0 loss

Habs fans still sit on the edge of their seats going in to the final game, waiting to see who (and if) will hit career highs and career records.

Brendan Gallagher is in search of his 20th goal, his first 20 goal season in his young career. Max Pacioretty is still in search of that elusive goal number 40, while Daniel Briere is hoping to net goal #300 of his career.

Follow us on twitter (@BBBR) for your live in-game updates, you can also catch the action live on CBC, RDS, NHL Network(USA Only) and TSN 690 Radio

Posted in 2013-2014 NHL Season, Atlantic Division, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL, Pregame Report, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Habs: Galchenyuk and Murray Making News

GallyWritten By: Iain Carnegie, BBBR

Two major concerns after last nights debacle concerned both Douglas Murray, and Alex Galchenyuk.

After the pitiful loss on home ice to the New York Islanders, Habs fans were left with one certainty, and one question.

Murray HabsSadly enough, the certainty was in the announcement that due to a lower body injury, Alex Galchenyuk will be sidelined from the Canadiens roster for the length of the first round of the post season.

The question mark was whether Douglas Murray would face yet another disciplinary hearing for the second time in as many weeks, after a hit from behind on Johan Sundstrom.

In the end, the NHL announced there would be no supplemental disciplinary action for the hit, and that the match penalty that he served last night would be sufficient.

Posted in 2013-2014 NHL Season, Announcements, Eastern Conference, Montreal Canadiens, NHL | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment