Thursday, April 14, 2011
Updated: April 15, 8:49 AM ET
Winning Game 2 is imperative for Bruins
By Joe McDonald
BOSTON -- If it's broken, fix it. Quickly.
The Boston Bruins already find themselves behind in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinals series, as the Montreal Canadiens posted a 2-0 victory in Game 1 on Thursday night at TD Garden.
The Canadiens played a perfect road game and were helped by the solid goaltending of Carey Price, who made 31 saves en route to his third career playoff shutout. Ironically, all three have come against the Bruins.
Losing Game 1 could prove crucial if Boston can't figure out a way to get traffic in front of Price and capitalize on quality chances. It's the playoffs, and the Bruins know the proper adjustments they need to make to be successful against a talented Montreal team.
The mood in the Bruins' locker room after the loss wasn't a good one.
"It sucks," Bruins forward David Krejci said. "We lost the game. By tomorrow, we've got to forget about it. It's going to be a long series, and there's still lots of hockey left."
Fortunately, the Bruins have been in a similar situation in the past. A year ago, Boston faced the Buffalo Sabres and goalie Ryan Miller in the first round. The Bruins lost 2-1 in Game 1 because they weren't able to generate traffic in front of the net. They made some adjustments, and then it was as though Miller and the Sabres were struck by a freight train carrying pucks.
Boston needs to play with that type of controlled reckless abandon again.
"I don't think we did a very good job of taking away [Price's] vision; he saw a lot of shots and he saw a lot of pucks," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We definitely have to get better in that area if we plan on scoring some goals. We had some quality chances as well that we didn't capitalize on, and when you get those quality chances, you have to make sure you bury those."
Moments after the loss, the Bruins knew what they needed to improve on.
"I think the difference was our net-front presence wasn't there," Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron said. "He's a good goalie, yes, but we've got to make sure we have traffic in front of him. He's going to make those stops if he sees it, and that's all. We need to make sure we do that, and, like I said, we can't get too down early. It's a long series, and we knew they were going to be a grind and a good team that we're playing against. Just got to adjust that, I guess."
|If the Bruins fall further behind the Canadiens, playing in Montreal will be an even harder feat.|
That's exactly what the Canadiens did.
Montreal took advantage of a turnover at 2:44 of the first period as Brian Gionta notched his first of two goals on the night. When the Canadiens scored that first goal, that 1-0 lead felt more like a 10-goal lead.
"That cost us the game," Krejci said of Montreal's first goal. "They shut it down, and it was hard to get through them. You've got to learn from that for the next game, so hopefully we're a little bit better [Saturday]."
With that one-goal lead, the Canadiens did go into lockdown mode and completely frustrated the Bruins. Boston attempted to open up the seams but kept getting boxed out in front, allowing Price to stifle the puck and not give up rebounds.
Plus, the Canadiens did a solid job blocking shots, recording a total of 19.
"Our guys played excellent tonight," Price said. "That's it. Our guys played great defense, and we played a pretty perfect road game. If we were to write down on paper how we wanted to start the series, that would be it right there."
It was clear the Bruins were pressing a little, trying to get that first goal, but they couldn't capitalize on their chances.
"Obviously you want to get off to a good start and get that first game," Bruins forward Milan Lucic said. "It's a big game. Statistics show that the team that wins that first game, the favor is to them. But it's four wins.
"You look back at last year, we learned a lot. We were up 3-0 [on Philadelphia], and every game is a new game. You've got to turn the page. So we just got to get refocused, re-energized and focus on Game 2."
The other aspect of this loss for Boston is the fact that the Canadiens now believe they can win this series.
"We don't listen to the criticism," Montreal's Mathieu Darche said. "We are confident in our abilities. It was a good first step tonight."
The last thing the Bruins need is to go to Montreal down 2-0 in this series. That could be devastating given the environment and atmosphere at the Bell Centre.
"It's not a secret; the Bell Centre is not an easy building for us to win in, especially this year," Lucic said. "Yeah, [Saturday] is definitely a must-win to try to get the split."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
It sucks. We lost the game. By tomorrow, we've got to forget about it. It's going to be a long series, and there's still lots of hockey left.
-- Bruins forward David Krejci