With Matt Fraser’s overtime winner in Game 4, the Bruins were able to wrestle control of the series back from the Canadiens and returned home to Boston squarely in charge. I mean, one can make the realistic argument that Boston should be up 3-1, with the only game they were outplayed being the Game 3 shit show in Montreal. However, games are won and lost on the scoreboard, and ‘outplaying’ a team – whether it be with shots, posts/crossbars, hits, puck possession, etc. – won’t get you through to the next round if you’re not finishing in the process. The ‘experts’ were pointing to this game as THE game that the KIL line would get on track. Would that be the case? To varying degrees…yes. But this dominance wouldn’t happen in 5v5 play, and would simply be just a small part of an overall fantastic performance by the B’s as a whole.
NBC was in rare form tonight. Instead of talking up the President’s Trophy winners in their return home following Thursdays exciting overtime game, they took the opportunity to focus on Montreal’s shot blocking prowess. Now, anyone who’s ever played hockey on any level will tell you that blocking a shot is an art…a truly dangerous and selfless act…and is indeed worthy of high praise. I’ll also tell you that this stat isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. There’s a huge difference between actively blocking a shot – whether it be hitting the deck and/or positioning oneself in the shooting lane – and merely being in the fucking way. The Canadiens were being praised for the latter. Having shit hit inadvertently hit you is to shot blocking what prematurely ejactulating in your pants is to having sex. Sure you can COUNT it as such, but you’re really taking credit for something you didn’t do in the first place. Then there’s the mess to consider, as well as the whole “Oh don’t worry, it happens to every guy at some point or another” BS! Will she call you again? Will you get a shot at redemption? Maybe it’s an honest medical issue? Does it REALLY happen to all guys?!
So…yeah. NBC going out of their way to portray Montreal in a favorable light. I don’t know where I was going with the other stuff.
The first period was pretty sloppy from both teams’ perspectives, as evidenced by the EIGHT minor penalties that were assessed. If their performance throughout the series would be any indication of what was to come, this boded well for Montreal and poorly for Boston. However, the Bruins were able to seize control early on and dictate the tempo throughout. Carl Soderberg would open the scoring more than 13 minutes in, converting on assists from Loui Eriksson and Matt Bartkowski to make the score 1-0, Bruins.
Tomas Plekanec’s interference penalty before the teams went into the locker room would lead to another Boston tally, as Reilly Smith scored a breathtakingly skillful goal on the powerplay to make the score 2-0. By ‘breathtakingly skillful’, I mean a ‘skated in the path of a Douglas Hamilton shot in such a manner that the puck bounced off of his skates but was done in a non-kicking motion and thus allowed to stand’ kind of goal. Not exactly worthy of a highlight reel, but it most certainly counts. And, given how stingy Carey Price has been with the rubber, Boston will take it.
Undaunted by the fact that his last penalty indirectly led to a Boston goal, Plekanec again had a seat in the sin bin a mere 26 seconds after Reilly’s marker – this time for trying to give Johnny Boychuk a tracheotomy with his hockey stick. A few seconds later, Jarome Iginla was able to bury a beautiful Torey Krug pass to make it 3-0, Bruins.
At this point, the game had all of the makings of a Boston romp, and it FINALLY looked like the team was firing on all cylinders.
Montreal’s frustration was most evident around midway into the second period, when Milan Lucic would tangle with the ever mercurial PK Subban in a classic ‘will they or won’t they’ moment. But, instead of falling for one another, I’m referring to them actually dropping the gloves and fighting in a meaningful playoff game. While they didn’t go, it was still the most exciting dance I’ve seen since I happened to find ‘Grease’ while flipping through the channels a few months back and getting to see the ‘Hand Jive’ part. Play cool all you want, but you know the one I’m talking about.
The Bruins were clearly in Montreal’s head at this point (just like the ‘Grease’ soundtrack is hopefully now in yours), and even when Brendan Gallagher was able to score on a Montreal powerplay (and end Tuukka’s shutout streak in the process), it never seemed like Boston wasn’t in control of the contest.
No goals were scored in the third period until Loui Eriksson buried an opportunity more than 14 minutes in, making the score at that point 4-1, Bruins.
With Carey Price pulled from the game for an extra attacker, another bad penalty from Matt Bartkowski would give Montreal another chance on the powerplay. After holding him in check for nearly two games, PK Subban was able to drive an absolute rocket through traffic and past Tuukka to make the score 4-2, Boston. Of note was Subban’s over the top celly, as he clearly was unaware that his team was down by 2 with only three minutes remaining in the game.
That would wind up being the final, as the Bruins were able to run out the clock in a sportsmanlike manner and nothing else of note would happen…
Yes…the media has already jumped all over this. The Bruins now find themselves embroiled in their very own Watergate ‘scandal’, as Shawn Thornton apparently sprayed some water from his Gatorade bottle at PK Subban during play. How much water was sprayed was unclear to me, but Subban tried to sell it like Thornton tried to spray him down with hydrochloric acid. A sophomoric move, sure, but worthy of a suspension, fine, or anger in general? I’m going to go with no, but Montreal is free to channel their frustrations however they’d like as their season comes dangerously close to an end. Thorty obviously had a good time, and we all know that Jon has a good time seeing THAT happen..
– Carl Soderberg’s line. They again led the charge for Boston on the scoresheet and on the ice, in general. The One Eyed Swede himself finished with a goal and two assists, while Loui Eriksson and Matt Fraser would also finish with points on the night. All three players finished at +2.
– Boston’s powerplay unit. Hey!! Welcome to the party, guys! After an abysmal showing in the first four games of the series, they went 2-4.
– Tuukka Rask. Although his shutout streak ended tonight, he’s reclaimed the title of ‘Best Goaltender in the Series’ from Carey Price.
– Milan Lucic. While finishing pointless (or without so much as a shot), Lucic helped dictate play for Boston with his physicality, finishing with a game high 7 hits – including this gem on his old pal Alexei Emelin:
– Boston’s penalty kill. One out of two isn’t bad with regards to the special teams, right?
– David Krejci. Isn’t he supposed to PICK UP his game in the playoffs?
– Shawn Thornton. I’m just kidding. I thought it was fucking hysterical, and his reaction was priceless and will be seen in countless GIFs and memes.
– After the Game 4 victory and tonight’s controlling performance, what are the chances that we see similar domination in Game 6 back in Montreal?
– Will Subban use Watergate as motivation to help force a Game 7, or is Boston in his head and under his skin?
– What are the chances that Montreal shelves their epic pre-game presentation? Please?!