Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #3
T.G.I.T.: After playing at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday – a time more familiar to the Bruins, who played 18 matinees in 2013-14 – the Canadiens will be back in their comfort zone for Game 3 with a Tuesday night affair on tap. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays have long been days reserved for gathering friends together around a TV with a couple of Molsons to watch the Habs beat their opponents. That trend has been even stronger in the playoffs over the years – especially when the opposition is wearing black and gold. Of the 22 times the Canadiens and Bruins have faced off on a Tuesday night in the postseason, Montreal has won 19. Thank goodness it’s Tuesday, indeed!
Advantage, P.K. : Among the teams still alive in the 2014 Playoffs, the Bruins and Canadiens currently boast the highest power play efficiencies at 28.6% and 27.3%, respectively. Tilting the scales in Montreal’s favor of late, P.K. Subban has been clicking at a phenomenal rate with the man advantage so far in Round 2. Through two games in the conference semis, the Norris Trophy-winning blue-liner has two goals and two assists, all coming on power play markers. And since the postseason kicked off against Tampa, Subban has registered six of his nine points on the PP, tying him for the NHL lead in that category with Penguins’ defenseman Matt Niskanen.
Like Clockwork: Tomas Plekanec knows the Bruins better than most. In the regular season, Plekanec has faced Boston 56 times, the most of any Hab with the exception of Andrei Markov. Given the frequency of Boston-Montreal match-ups in the postseason, he’s also had his share of rivalry games come springtime. In the last seven postseason games he’s played against the Bs, Pleky has registered at least one point in all but one, racking up one goal and five assists in that span.
Good tipper : The art of redirecting the puck is not one which is easily learned, but one which Thomas Vanek masters. Out of the nine goals he has scored as a Hab, five came on tip-ins. Since he has been surrounded with P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Mike Weaver and company, Vanek has scored 56% of his goals with help from his defense corps. Contrast this with his tendencies as a member of the Sabres and the Islanders: in 2013-14, he scored 19% of his goals with those two teams off deflections while tallying 38% of his goals with an accurate wrist shot. In any case, Vanek figures to be a slot-area threat against the Bruins on Tuesday.
Burst fire: When the Habs get on a roll, they are hard to stop. In six games since the start of the 2014 playoffs, six Canadiens players have notched multi-point games. That’s only three fewer players than in 2009-10, when nine players had multi-point outings in 19 games en route to the Eastern Conference finals. Out of the nine, Brian Gionta and P.K. Subban are still with the current edition of the team. Subban has put up four multi-pointers already this spring.