After all the bluster and the big talk and the reflecting back on the fights and scary hits from the regular season, the playoffs between Boston and Montreal kicked off in a way that Caps and Pens fans might recognize all too well.
Carey Price stopped 31 shots in earning his third career playoff shutout while Brian Gionta scored two goals, each assisted by Scott Gomez, in leading the Habs to victory in Game 1 over Boston 2-0.
Montreal’s plan of attack looked oddly familiar to how they were able to shutdown the Capitals and Penguins in last season’s playoffs. The Habs grabbed the lead early on in the game in the first period and helped themselves out by playing staunch defense and frustrating the Bruins’ attempts at offense at every turn. When the Bruins were able to get chances, Price was there to turn them away.
For Boston, it’s just one game in the series but they should be a bit concerned with how their offense was silenced and mostly thanks to perpetual thorn in the side P.K. Subban. Subban led the Canadiens in time on ice playing just over 27 minutes and found himself getting the call in all clutch situations on defense for the Habs while paired up with Hal Gill. Speed and skill paired up with a veteran defenseman known for holding up the opponents top forwards from finding room. It’s a video game like pairing but for Montreal it worked well tonight.
Boston will have to figure out a way to get the offense going obviously but for them, stepping up their physical play is a must and they have to make the Canadiens feel uncomfortable on the ice. That’s not advocating dirty play, just being more aggressive and attacking stronger to make space would be huge for them.
On the other hand, Montreal doesn’t need to deviate much from what they did tonight. While they can’t quite expect for Price to be lights out in every game, the confidence and stellar play he had tonight helped put the memories of Price’s 0-8 playoff record in his last eight games and goals against average north of 4.00 out of everyone’s minds.
The Bruins should have some concern though because Montreal will keep doing this if they’re allowed. Getting the first goal in Game 2 should be the Bruins’ primary objective lest they get defended to death the rest of the way.
Here’s video of Brian Gionta’s game sealing second goal.