Habs Lose, but Prove They Belong
The Montreal Canadiens should feel pretty good after Game 1 of their Eastern Conference clash against hated rival Boston.
Quite frankly, the Habs were right there with the B's on Thursday night, and might have evened deserved better than a 4-2 loss. In fact, the visitors probably surprised even themselves with their ability to compete physically with Boston, a big, rawboned team with some serious hitters.
The Canadiens did well to fight back from a 2-0 deficit to make it a deadlocked game well into the third, and only a Bruin power play allowed the home team the room to pot the winner, with Marc Savard making a nice look off before setting up Zdeno Chara.
Carey Price was very good in the Montreal net, another good sign. But he also showed one of his most maddening characteristics on the first Boston goal of the night, a tendency to be just too casual at times when urgency is called. With the puck loose in his knees, Price moved calmly to cover it with his glove, but not quickly enough before it was jarred loose and stuffed into an open net.
It's a little thing, but these are the Stanley Cup playoffs and you need your goaltender to leap upon that loose puck as though he were protecting a baby, not coolly try to swipe it with his glove.
Too cool for school is how my TSN colleague Michael Farber frequently describes Price, and this was another occasion in which that description fit.
The Habs got good mileage, if not enough offence, out of their good players, including strong efforts by Saku Koivu and Chris Higgins. That said, the absence of Andrei Markov from the blueline is glaring, and a big problem when the Canadiens try to organize their power play.
The Habs didn't get blown out, as some predicted they would. They got a taste of the physical sacrifice it will take to win this series, and for one night, even in defeat, they appeared prepared to pay it.