So it all comes down to this. Game seven in Beantown. Wednesday night. Remember all you guys who said the Bruins were going to crush us like little bugs? You know who you are. Well guess what? They didn’t.
The Canadiens didn’t just play their best game of the season Monday night, hammering the Bruins 4-0. They played maybe the best game I’ve seen them play in a decade. It was a thing of beauty. Everyone laid on the body, especially Alexei Emeilin. Brandon Prust, clearly re-energized by being the lucky fellow to get the magic Ginette handshake after the anthem, bumped, grinded and played great hockey. Welcome back Brandon.
Mike ‘Dream’ Weaver blocked shots, confirmed his reputation as the team’s best stay-at-home defenseman and even dared to challenge the Monster Man Chara late in the game after Monster got into a nasty tiff with Andrei Markov. But maybe most importantly Max ‘Slow Starter’ Pacioretty finally came to life, scoring his first goal of the series on a bouncing stretch pass from Nathan Beaulieu. And Beaulieu was brilliant in his first-ever playoff game. He added one extra blueline punch to the power-play and simply added another piece of speed that made the Bruins look, frankly, pretty darn slow Monday.
And what to say about Therrien? I, like so many others, have spent a lot of time this year criticizing the kindly ol’ coach. I thought he had the wrong take on our team. That he thought Les Boys were a team of blue-collar, lunch-box-toting grunts when it was obvious to see the Habs are a skill outfit. But he’s done everything right in these playoffs. His latest roll of the dice was bringing in Beaulieu, a kid with zero playoff experience, to a hotly contested game six and it paid off in spades.
So it’s off to Boston for one last game. And you know what they say about game sevens. Here’s the words of wisdom from Michel Therrien right after The Game.
‘Un match 7. Tout peut arriver. N’importe quoi peut arriver. Ca c’est la beauté d’un match 7.’ All I’d add is this – Et que oui.
Don Cherry has been barking about how you better not poke the bear since the beginning of this series (eds. note: Grapes pulling for Boston? I’m shocked, truly shocked.) but the fact is that the Habs have been poking since game one. They’ve been hitting hard, they’ve been standing up to the goons and still remaining disciplined. To the disappointment of Cherry, we’ll play tough but we’re not going to engage in Boston’s Dirty War. There’s no water squirting, no whacking of balls, no Brad ‘Rat’ Marchand spearing after the whistle.
And Monday night, Montreal didn’t just poke the Bear.They kicked the big bad Bear’s ass. Grapes thinks that means Boston will be fired up Wednesday. Who cares? Both teams should be on absolute total manic overdrive – or they don’t deserve to go any where in this post-season. The Bruins want payback? Great. Go for it. Beat us up. Then sit in the penalty box and watch P.K. ‘Superstar’ Subban and Les Boys do their stuff. Brilliant strategy Don.
Whatever happens, this is ‘just’ another classic Habs-Bruins match-up, the latest installment in the greatest rivalry in hockey. Dick Irvin – wasn’t it great to see him on Hockey Night in Canada? – was right on the money. Watching these two teams battling it out in the playoffs is as good as it gets.
– Brendan Kelly