Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins Game 2

Saturday, 18.04.2009 / 12:00 AM / News
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Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins Game 2
Wise Beyond His Years
Usually, a hockey player’s level of experience is determined by his age, and goalies are rarely an exception to the rule.  In the case of the Bruins’ and Habs’ netminders, however, the tables appear to be turned.  In the playoffs, when every goal counts, having even one postseason game’s worth of experience can be an ace-in-the-hole for a veteran puckstopper.  While Tim Thomas may have 14 years on his younger counterpart, Carey Price has more postseason appearances under his belt.  Thomas has played in just eight playoff games throughout his career, all against the Canadiens.  After dumping the Bruins in seven games last year, Price got in some invaluable second round experience against the Flyers.  With four extra playoff games to his credit – including two shutouts against Boston last year – Price is no stranger to springtime hockey.

Taking the Bullet
While it may be up to a goalie to keep the puck out of his net, the best way for a defenseman to ensure it stays out is to stop it himself.  Three Habs blue-liners were among the league’s Top 20 shot blockers this season, with Mike Komisarek, Roman Hamrlik and Josh Gorges finishing in 4th, 5th and 16th place respectively.  Entering the mix at 34th on the charts, Dennis Wideman is the top-ranked Bruin in the shot blocking category.  Throughout the regular season, the Bruins blocked 1130 shots in all, while Canadiens players selflessly sacrificed their bodies by throwing themselves in the way of 1404 pucks.  
 
Playing the Odds
After Game 1, anything can happen.  According to statistics and probabilities, since the NHL began the best-of-seven format, the team that claims the first game of the series owns a mere 0.494 win percentage in Game 2.  In all of the playoff series’ played between Montreal and Boston, the Habs have won the first game 10 times.  Keeping with the numbers, the two teams have split Game 2 down the middle, with each side winning five of those outings. 

Men in Stripes
The number of penalties doled out during a game usually reflects the level of intensity throughout the contest.  Hostilities from last year’s playoffs carried over into the Habs’ home opener this season, with the two club’s spending a combined 54 minutes in the box on October 15.  After a brief cooling period, the numbers dropped when the team’s met up again, but other than a dip on November 22, PIMs began piling up with increasing consistency throughout the regular season, with 22, 16, 33, 42 and 76 minutes given out in that time.  In Game 1 of the 2009 playoffs, the referees had their whistles squirreled away for the majority of the game, giving out just 12 minutes of penalties in the first 59 minutes.  One minute can make all the difference though, as tempers flared to the tune of 48 additional penalty minutes in the last 60 seconds of play.

Tried and Tested D Corps

You can’t buy experience, though compared to the Bruins, the Canadiens’ defensemen have plenty to spare.  Habs’ blue-liners combine for 214 regular season games of experience against the Bruins, picking up 89 points against the B’s in that span.  Patrolling the blue line in Beantown, seasoned veterans are a little harder to come by, combing for 174 career games and 52 points against Montreal.  Both teams added to that total on Thursday night, with Josh Gorges adding an assist for the bleu-blanc-rouge and Boston captain Zdeno Chara tallying the game-winner in the contest.

Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com

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