We knew the Boston Bruins were going to be better in game two.
We knew the Montreal Canadiens needed to be better in game two.
The end result: a 5-1 victory by the Bruins over the Habs Saturday night at the Garden that leaves the Canadiens in a very deep hole. Trailing 2-0 in this series, the Canadiens must now win four of a possible five games to get out of the mess they’re in.
When was the last time the Canadiens won four of five? In mid-February, when Jaroslav Halak was in goal during a four-game winning stretch.
More on him, in a moment.
After showing the same lines at practice following game one, Bob Gainey shook things up in a big way for game two. First, Francis Bouillon was airlifted into Boston for his first taste of action in almost two months, as a result of a lower-body injury.
He didn’t last two minutes.
Bouillon had to leave the game after 1:46 of ice time when he pulled up lame. His spot on the blueline was taken up by Yannick Weber, who was dressed in place of Patrice Brisebois, a healthy scratch.
The other healthy scratches? Tomas Plekanec and Matt D’Agostini. The other addition to the lineup? Sergei Kostitsyn.
As the final score would indicate, the changes didn’t help. Neither did Montreal’s undisciplined play.
A steady stream of Canadiens’ penalties led to three power-play goals by the Bruins, beginning with a hooking call on Sergei K. midway through the opening period that resulted in a goal by Marc Savard, his first of two power play goals on the night. The Bruins would go on to score three with the man advantage.
These were bad penalties. Penalties you take when you’re trying to slow down opposing players. Penalties you take when you’re feet stop moving. Penalties you take when you stop working.
And then there was the unsportsmanlike penalty taken by Maxim Lapierre midway through the third period.
Memo to Maxim Lapierre: Stop Yapping. And start playing hockey.
Alex Kovalev managed to get one back in the opening minute of the second period, but that’s as close as the Canadiens would get. There would be no comeback on this night. There would be no “moral victory” on this night. There would be nothing to build on, going into game three Monday night at the Bell Centre.
There would be nothing but a sixth straight loss; their longest losing streak of the season.
Even during the dog days of mid January to mid February, when the Canadiens were busy spending time in the bowling alley trying to cure themselves of the west-coast blues, they didn’t lose six straight.
The timing isn’t great, is it?
Oh yes. Jaroslav Halak. He finally saw his first taste of action since an April 6th losing effort against Ottawa. That’s because Carey Price was pulled after giving up five goals on 26 shots through the opening 40 minutes.
Not exactly playoff goaltending. But then again, this wasn’t exactly a playoff performance last night.
This was a team that featured that no less than a dozen line combinations up front. Yes, much of that was due to the injury to Bouillon, which forced Weber to full-time duty along the blueline, removing him from possible fourth-line duty. And clearly, much of the line juggling was done in an effort to squeeze some offence from this team. But the line changes came at a truly dizzying pace. At least we got to see Alex Tanguay back with Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev for a brief period of time.
Let’s hope they’re back, full-time for game three. That’s not to take anything away from Georges Laraque. But put him somewhere else.
And put Halak back in goal.