Red Wings pay the price for ‘chasing the game’ against Canadiens

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It might’ve been entertaining for the fans, but not for Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock.

The Red Wings came out on the losing end of a 5-4 final score against the Montreal Canadiens in an Original Six match up on Thursday. Sure, goals are fun for those watching. The two teams combined for five in a wild third period, too.

But Babcock has a different opinion, especially considering his team was trying to breakaway from a four-team pack all vying for that final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

“When you start chasing the game like we were tonight, anything can happen. It’s entertaining and all that for the fans but it’s not a recipe for success whatsoever,” Babcock said afterward, as per video on the Detroit Free Press website.

The Red Wings missed out on an opportunity to jump ahead into sole possession of the top Wild Card spot in the East, ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Instead, they remain part of the four-team logjam that also includes the Blue Jackets, Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs at 80 points. There are only the two Wild Card spots available, so there’s no room for error.

Lineup changes aplenty for Montreal after snapping Boston’s win streak

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The Montreal Canadiens will ice a decidedly different-looking team from the one that snapped Boston’s 12-game winning streak on Monday.

The two forwards injured by Bruins d-man Kevan Miller — Travis Moen and Dale Weise — are out for tonight’s game against Buffalo, replaced by Lars Eller and Ryan White. On defense, Jarred Tinordi will return from his stint as a healthy scratch and suit up — at the expense of veteran Francis Bouillon, who’ll sit.

In goal, Carey Price will get the start after Peter Budaj was brilliant in stopping 28 of 29 shots against Boston.

These certainly are interesting times for the Habs. With Moen, Weise and Brandon Prust out of the lineup — Prust was lost for the remainder of the regular season last week with an upper-body injury — the team definitely lacks some grit and toughness in its bottom-six forward group, something that’s historically been an issue given the lack of size among the top-six.

That said, the club has shown some major resiliency lately.

Montreal has won five of six after a tough stretch from Mar. 3-12, where they lost three of four during a Western road swing through L.A., Anaheim, Phoenix and San Jose. The Habs then returned home for a listless 4-1 loss to Boston, which seemed to provide a spark — since then, Montreal’s racked up wins over Ottawa, Colorado, Buffalo, Toronto and Boston to draw even with Tampa Bay on points (87) in the Atlantic Division.

 

 

Bruins’ Lucic calls Canadiens’ Emelin ‘a chicken’

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Boston Bruins forward Milan Lucic unleashed on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin – but not with his fists.

Lucic had some strong words for Emelin following Monday’s heated match-up between the two Original Six rivals, which was won in the shootout by the Canadiens.

Lucic took issue with a hip check Emelin threw on him in the first period, drawing a response from Zdeno Chara. And Lucic didn’t hold back his feelings of the hit, or Emelin.

“Whether it’s fair, legal or whatever you want to call it, if he wasn’t scared, he would stand up and hit me and not go after my knees,” Lucic said, as per ESPN Boston.

“It just shows how big of a chicken he is that he needs to go down like that to take me down. It shows what kind of player he is, and on my end, you know you’ve got to keep your guard up at all times.”

Later in the game, it appeared Lucic caught Emelin with a spear, however he denied that.

There was another incident in the first period, in which two members of the Canadiens were hurt. Forward Dale Weise was hurt on a hit from Bruins’ Kevan Miller, who was called for cross checking on the play. Habs’ forward Travis Moen stepped in to fight Miller, but was knocked to the ice after taking a punch to the side of the head.

“I hope [Weise] is all right — both those guys. To be honest with you about the hit, I felt bad about it. I just kind of bumped into him,” Miller told CSNNE.com.

“I think he was a little off balance. I stood there just trying to make sure he was okay for a second, and Moen asked if I wanted to go. I just hope they’re both okay.”

Video: Hard-hitting game between Bruins and Canadiens

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As is typically the case, the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens were involved in another feisty contest. The visiting Habs came away with the two points, defeating their Original Six rival 2-1 in the shootout and stopping the Bruins’ winning streak at 12 games.

The bad blood between these teams started brewing early.

Canadiens’ defenseman Alexei Emelin caught Bruins’ power forward Milan Lucic with a hip check in the first period, initiating a reaction from Zdeno Chara, who was called for roughing.

As per Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com, Lucic called Emelin a “chicken” for the hip check after the game.

Now, here is the open-ice neutral zone hit from Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver on Bruins’ forward Dan Paille in the second period.

Despite these two big hits from the Canadiens, it was the Bruins that led the way with 36 registered hits to Montreal’s 24.

There was also a case of Lucic apparently spearing Emelin late in the third period. That can be viewed by clicking on this link.

Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the 895th all-time meeting between Boston and Montreal, regular season and playoffs (the most meetings between any two teams in NHL history). The Canadiens had won five straight regular-season meetings in the series, until the Bruins defeated the Canadiens on Mar. 12 in Montreal by a 4-1 margin. The B’s got a combined four points from their second line (Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – Reilly Smith) and 35 saves by goaltender Tuukka Rask in the win.

• The Bruins enter tonight’s game having won 12 games in a row, all but one of which were settled in regulation. It is their longest win streak since a 13-game run in 1970-71, and two shy of the franchise record set in 1929-30 (14). If they defeat the Canadiens tonight, they can tie the franchise mark on Thursday evening at TD Garden against the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla has been on fire in March, with an NHL-high 11 goals in the month, including seven goals in his last five games. On Saturday, the 36-year-old scored his 557th and 558th career NHL goals, leaving him only two goals shy of Guy Lafleur (560 goals) for 24th all-time. Lafleur scored all but 42 of his goals with the Canadiens, winning five Stanley Cups from 1971-85.

• Canadiens winger Thomas Vanek has four goals since being acquired from the Islanders at the March 5 trade deadline. On Mar. 18 vs. Colorado, Vanek became the first player to score his first three goals as a Canadien in the same game since Alex Smart did so in his NHL debut on Jan. 14, 1943. Vanek also joined Minnesota’s Matt Moulson in scoring goals for three different teams this season (Vanek: BUF, NYI, MTL – Moulson: NYI, BUF, MIN), a feat no player had accomplished since Pascal Dupuis (MIN, NYR, ATL) and Alexei Zhitnik (NYI, PHI, ATL) in 2006-07.

• Before the Bruins’ current win streak, head coach Claude Julien sat one win shy of Jack Adams (DET, 413 wins, 1927-47) for 29th on the all-time wins list. 12 wins later, Julien has solidified his candidacy for the Jack Adams Award, given to the top coach as selected by the NHL Broadcasters Association. If victorious, Julien (who won the award in 2008-09) would become the first two-time winner since former Canadiens great Jacques Lemaire (1993-94, with New Jersey; 2002-03, with Minnesota.)

• Since Julien took over before the 2007-08 season, the Bruins defense has been the stingiest in the NHL, allowing 1,275 goals in 529 games (2.41 goals/game). During that span, they have allowed two or fewer goals in 296 games (most in the NHL) and five or more in only 48 (fewest in the NHL).

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask is 7-0-0, with a 1.55 GAA, .946 save% and a shutout during the 12-game win streak. Together with backup Chad Johnson (5-0-0, 1.20 GAA, .954 save%, shutout), the Bruins netminders have allowed two or fewer goals in 10 of the 12 wins.

• Since Mar. 15, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is 3-1-0 with a 3.28 GAA and .906 save%, following his 5-0-0, 0.59 GAA, .972 save% performance in Canada’s run to gold at the Sochi Olympics. Price has played in and won more games against the Bruins than any other NHL team, posting a career 17-8-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and .919 save% in 29 games vs. Boston – though he has not won at Boston since Oct. 27, 2011 (0-2, with one no-decision since then).

• In 11 games this month, the Canadiens have been assessed 193 penalty minutes, and their opponents have been assessed 187 penalty minutes, both NHL-highs for March. The Habs have gone 7/44 on the power play (15.9%, T-18th in the NHL for March) and 37/42 on the penalty kill (88.1%, T-6th).