April 21, 2011

Live Blog of Bruins - Habs Game 4 - DIARY OF A MELTDOWN !!!

This post is a game blog of tonight's Habs - Bruins match up at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Canadiens' coach Jacques Martin said after Game 3 that he noticed in the morning skate that his team wasn't mentally ready. As someone who coaches mental performance, I find it hard to fathom that professional hockey players wouldn't be ready to compete at their best, but of course it happens. The lesson from Game 3 is that you have to bring your intensity right from the start so let's see how the Habs come out of the gate.

6:59 pm: OK, the first bit of bad news is that I have to watch the Bruins broadcast on NESN which means listening to the screeching of Jack Edwards. Ugh! Well, it's not the first time I have had to endure that so I shall survive.

7:02 pm: Great video from Annakin Slayd to get Montreal fans pumped up. Couple of nice digs at the Bruins included!

7:06 pm: Wish we got to see the pre-game activities at the Bell Centre. To Edwards' and Andy Brickley's credit, they recognize the special atmosphere that is the Bell Centre in Montreal.

7:11 pm: The fans are ready, are the Habs?

7:15 pm: It's time to drop the puck, are you ready???

7:16 pm: Good hit from Roman Hamrlik on Mark Recchi to get things going. Positive sign.

7:19 pm: Lars Eller scares me sometimes. Clearly, he has talent, but seems to turn the puck over a lot. Just made an errant pass coming out of the zone to absolutely no one.

7:21 pm: A fairly neutral start for both teams and Recchi just had a great chance in front of Carey Price. Habs have to do better there.

7:22: Monitoring Twitter during the game and theDAshow is worth following!

7:23: First screeching call from Edwards on hit on Kostitsyn. Helmet and head separation.

7:27: Moen with a chance in front of Tim Thomas. The line of Gionta - Gomez - Moen needs to play well.

7:28: Thomas with a great save on Moen, however I like the fact that the Habs are putting on some pressure now.

7:29: YES! Habs score and the Bell Centre explodes. A deserved 1-0 lead. Brett Sopel gets the goal and perhaps another questionable one from Thomas. You have to question his performances in the playoffs.

7:32: 10 minutes in and it's been a good start for Montreal. The early lead is so key to how they play. Will be interesting to see how much pressure they continue to exert.

7:33: Thomas looks very unsure of himself in the net. Keep firing at him!

7:38: Huge pressure on Thomas now. Bruins are reeling at this point.

7:39: 16-4 in shots now for Mtl. Looks like a B's power play coming up. That's unfortunate timing based on the flow of the game.

7:44: Good penalty kill for the Habs with 0 shots on goal. Time to put the pressure back on Thomas. Desharnais with a nice play tying up Chara in the B's zone on the PP! :)

7:46: Price stifles an attempt from Patrice Bergeron. Bruins mounting some pressure here at the end of the period. Dangerous. It's too early to start backing the bus in front of Price.

7:49: Bruins are finishing the period on a positive note with sustained pressure.

7:50: End of the first period and the Habs lead 1-0. Overall, a good bounce back effort on the heels of the Game 3 loss. Bruins didn't seemingly wake up until the period was about 18 minutes over. It will be interesting to see how the teams come out in the second period. Boston has to be happy that they are only down one goal and obviously that isn't an insurmountable lead. Habs have to continue skating and pressuring the puck. That will keep the fans in the game as well.

8:02: Bad timing alert - dinner almost ready and second period about to start. Don't think I can eat and type at the same time!

8:07: Back for the second period.

8:10: Lots of end-to-end action results in a goal from ex-Hab Michael Ryder. Ooof! Step up time right now. Good effort from Boston to come out well in the second period.

8:14: Thomas is complicating his evening by giving up juicy rebounds that the Habs are getting to.

8:15: 2-1 Habs with Cammalleri scoring. A just reward for the latest surge in pressure.

8:17: 3-1. Another quick counter by Mtl results in a goal from AK46. Bell Centre has exploded with noise. Smart by Boston to call a time-out at this point. They need to regroup big-time.

8:24: Bruins close the gap to 1 goal against the run of play. Ference blasts it over Price's glove - his usual weak spot. Habs have to be careful here and tighten up defensively. Bruins aren't going away - to their credit.

8:32: PK with some nice moves in the offensive zone. He was looking 5-hole, but Thomas closed it up.

8:33: Just read on Twitter from HNIC's Jeff Marek that Ference gave the finger to the Bell Centre crowd after scoring. I wouldn't call that professional behavior. Sounds like something Sean Avery would do.

8:37: I was just thinking how I'm not liking the trend of this game and all of a sudden the Bruins tie it up - ugh! The third period is going to be some battle - the series may be on the line.

8:39: OMG! Kaberle just took a shot on goal. His first since 1991. At least that's what Leafs fans think.

8:41: Bruins are taking a page out of the SJ Sharks playbook from the other night when they came back against the Kings in LA to win in OT. One more period to go - this is a bit nerve wracking. I'm not liking what's happening, but the intermission is probably coming at a good time. Montreal needs to settle down and come out hard in the last frame as they need this game.

8:56: Price needs to play at his most confident in this third period. His team is committing defensive lapses and they need to be bailed out by a confident net minder. It's Patrick Roy time!

8:59: Time for the 3rd period. Habs can't lose this game. They dominated Boston in 3 regular season Bell Centre games. It would be unforgivable to drop 2 to the same team in the playoffs.

9:00: Power play time right away.

9:01: PK! 4-3! The thorn in the Bruins side gives the Canadiens the advantage via the PP. Great shot by Subban going top shelf. Now, can they hold this lead???

9:07: AK46 with a nice move. A very talented player who often annoys me for his mindless play and bad penalties.

9:09: Price with some big stops to maintain Montreal's lead. I get the feeling that he's going to be called on a few more times before this one is over.

9:15: Krejci in all alone on Price and he can't quite get a handle on it. That's a close shave!

9:16: Cammalleri with a break away on Thomas, but he fires it right into the Bruins goalie. Good play by Thomas.

9:17: I hope the Habs aren't going into a defensive shell here. It's not the night for that. Bruins have shown resiliency this evening.

9:19: Glenn Healy enraged by Ference's salute to the crowd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjF9-rns5Ng&feature=player_embedded. To be clear, it doesn't take much to enrage Healy. I think he wakes up pissed off. Anyway, Habs have bigger worries than a moment of idiocy from Andrew Ference.

9:25: Conservative play from the Habs comes back to haunt them. Chris Kelly ties the game at 4. This is exactly what I feared. Bruins will not go away and you could almost see this scenario unfolding in the last few minutes. 5 minutes to go in regulation. Hello overtime?

9:28: Canadiens with a good rush, then Bruins come back with a point blank chance on Price. Difficult to watch now.

9:29: Bruins are getting the better scoring chances. If Habs are to win this game in regulation, it will be agains the run of play at this point. They need to start skating and pressuring the puck again. That's the formula for forcing a critical turnover.

9:32: Seidenberg with no stick is forced to take an interference penalty to stop Plekanec. Habs powerplay to finish regulation.

9:35: Heart pounding ending to this 3rd period. We are going to OT. Wow!

9:52: OT underway. Let's go Habs - come out hard!

9:53: Good early pressure from Mtl. Cammalleri has had a great game tonight - 3 points thus far.

9:54: Ryder ends it with a goal on Price as he is all alone in front of the Montreal goal. Critical defensive lapse again leads to a Bruins goal. The series is tied now as both teams have lost their home games.

Canadiens have somehow managed to blow a 2-0 series lead and a game in which they never trailed until the end. It will certainly be a mental challenge for this team as they go back to Boston for game 5. As good as the defense was in the first 2 games, it was decidedly poor this evening as Price was left all alone several times including on the game winning goal. If there is one thing that this team has shown throughout the season, there doesn't seem to be any connection from one game to the next. They're going to need that if there is any hope of pulling out this series.

- Brian Lomax

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