New England Sports React

Subban Sinks B’s

PK Subban broke the hearts of the Bruins and their fans late Thursday night and is sure to give them fits throughout this series.

Some guys just have your number, and unfortunately for the Boston Bruins, PK Subban is one of them. The talented defenseman made the B’s pay once again last night, netting two powerplay goals including the game-winner in double-OT to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory and a 1-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

It’s not like the Bruins didn’t see this coming, however. They knew they’d be in for a dogfight against Montreal, a team that matches up well with Boston and can match their physical style of play. Subban is an integral part of this physicality, throwing his large frame around while complimenting this strength with elite scoring ability. While he only managed 10 goals during the regular season, he always seems to come up big against the B’s, and last night was no different. Having a clear path to shoot the puck during the first period of regulation and then in double-OT, Subban took no reservations and blasted two howitzers into the back of the net, both to the glove side of Tuukka Rask. Why the Bruins defenders didn’t think to challenge Subban on those shots is beyond me; an attempt at a blocked shot would’ve been nice. Instead, they played the role of spectators.

Subban’s two goals weren’t the only head-scratching moments this defense had. From turnovers in their own zone to poor passing when trying to get out on the break, the B’s defense certainly didn’t bring their ‘A’ game, particularly the young defenseman. Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug, and especially Matt Bartkowski were average at best, even after taking into consideration Krug’s goal to knot the game at two apiece. Each had at least a couple turnovers in their own zone, but Bartkowski was by far the worst of the trio, taking two penalties including the holding call that ultimately led to Subban’s game-winner. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Claude Julien sit ‘Bart’ for the more experienced Andrej Meszaros tomorrow.

Besides the team’s defensive struggles, offensively the B’s were just as poor. Registering almost double the amount of shots the Habs managed with 50 total, Boston only managed to find the back of the net three times, twice with Carey Price screened and clearly unable to locate the puck. They hit a couple posts and had the puck in behind Price numerous times, but the story of the game was the opportunities the B’s missed. David Krejci, Jarome Iginla, and Milan Lucic (among a few others) had countless scoring chances with Price seemingly out of position and a portion of the net exposed. To the Canadian gold medal winner’s credit, he made some outstanding saves to keep the Bruins off the board for the first two periods. But there’s no question Boston left at least one goal on the ice.

From a goaltending standpoint, Rask played far from his best game. But after he spotted Montreal a 2-0 lead, the ‘Fantastic Fin’ made some big saves to keep his team in it. Unfortunately, his efforts weren’t quite good enough for the black and gold to prevail. What is reassuring, however, is the fact that this was the worse performance we’ve seen out of Rask this postseason. He was on against Detroit, a team that boasts a high-powered scoring unit, so one would think that he’d play just as good if not better against the Canadiens. He’s likely to only get better as the series wears on. I expect Tuukka to bring it tomorrow afternoon.

Despite the loss, I can honestly say I’m confident heading into Game 2. Like Rask, this was the Bruins’ worst playoff effort and completely out-of-character for them, so they can only trend upwards. Just think: as poorly as they played, they nearly pulled off the comeback victory over the pesky Canadiens. And if that was the best 60 minutes of hockey that Montreal is capable of playing, then Bruins fans should not be worried about the series moving forward. Guess we’ll have to just wait and see who comes out wanting it the most tomorrow.

-Ryan Hartley

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