Despite Thursday’s big 5-4 OT win in Boston, the Canadiens weren’t satisfied with their overall play — most notably, the contributions from prized trade deadline acquisition Thomas Vanek.
Michel Therrien says that Thomas Vanek needs to “step up” his game.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) May 2, 2014
#Habs Thomas Vanek when asked if his play is related to an injury: “No. It’s just a matter of not being good. It’s as simple as that.”
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) May 2, 2014
Vanek was minus-1 in Game 1 and was temporarily dropped to the fourth line, finishing with 18:58 TOI. That last figure is noteworthy, because it came in a double-OT game; comparatively speaking, Vanek played 19:34 in a Game 3 victory in the opening round against Tampa Bay — a game that was decided in regulation.
Against Boston, all but three Canadiens forwards played more than Vanek did. Here’s more, from NHL.com:
Vanek is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2011, when he scored five goals in a seven-game loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with the Buffalo Sabres. Vanek’s line with [David] Desharnais and [Max] Pacioretty combined for 18 goals in 14 full regular-season games together, and Vanek’s history of torching the Bruins, with 30 goals in 55 regular-season games, made him a key ingredient to the Canadiens’ potential for success.
In Game 1, he and his line didn’t deliver.
“It’s frustrating,” Vanek said. “You want to contribute, especially this time of year, so I think it’s frustrating we’re not having the success we had earlier. At the same time, you just take a step back, relax, and be better [Saturday].”
Getting more out of Vanek will be key for Montreal in this series. One, he’s a noted Bruins killer — 62 points in 55 career games against the B’s — and two, this postseason may be all Montreal gets out of Vanek, so it has to be good. The pending UFA has previously expressed his desire to test free agency, and the Habs paid a fairly decent price for what could amount to a short-term rental: a second-round pick and prospect Sebastian Collberg, the 33rd overall pick at the ’12 NHL Entry Draft.