Posted on April 18, 2008 12:06 AM | Permalink
MONTREAL - The Boston Bruins scored as many goals during their 5-1 win at the Bell Centre on Thursday than they had in the first four games of their series with the Montreal Canadiens.
Head coach Claude Julien admitted after the game that his players were perhaps starting to question if they were capable of such an offensive outburst.
“We were a little fragile on that level,” Julien said, “because it had been about a month that we’ ve had a lot of trouble scoring goals.”
The question now is whether this will wake up the Bruins offensively, or if it will light even more of a fire under Canadiens rookie netminder Carey Price?
Price, one game after learning how it felt to post a shutout in the NHL playoffs, now understan ds the gravity a single error can have on a playoff series.
The Canadiens are still not under an immediate threat to squander a 3-1 lead in their series with the Bruins, but things are definitely a little more uncomfortable for them heading back to Boston with the potential of a winner-take-all Game 7 looming.
Though Price cannot shoulder all of the blame for Montreal’s loss, he can definitely claim some of the responsibility after his carelessness with the puck led to Glen Metropolit’s go-ahead goal at 3:31 of the third
“It’s a momentum changer,” Price said. “When a team gets a break like that, they’re going to come harder.”
The challenge for Price will be to make sure that his gaffe changed the momentum only of Game 5, and not of the series. Price said that as soon as he would leave the Canadiens dressing room Thursday night, the goal and the game would be forgotten. However, in the same media scrum, Price explained his off game like this: “It was my first bad game in 12 starts, it’s going to happen eventually.”
A quick check of his game log shows that Price was referring to a 3-0 loss in Ottawa on March 13, exactly 12 starts ago. That does not sound like a man with a short memory.
But maybe Price thrives more on reminding himself of his failures than he does of revelling in his success, because he did manage to win his next nine starts after that game in Ottawa.
That’s why coach Guy Carbonneau and Price’s teammates in the dressing room aren’t too concerned about their goaltender, and even Julien seems to know what awaits his team in Game 6 on Saturday.
“I saw Carey Price play a lot this year, and not just in the game he played against us,” Julien said. “I saw the games that were tougher for him, and he always rebounded. That’s what makes him such a great goalie at such a young age. Our team respects him, and we know he’ll rebound.”
What Carbonneau is justifiably more worried about is the Canadiens power play, which finished tops in the league this year but is now running at a 2-for-25 clip after going 0-for-4 on Thursday.
Alex Kovalev, who scored an incredible goal in the first period to give Montreal a 1-0 lead, is feeling the pressure of seeing what used to be the team’s bread and butter fail miserably when it’s most important.
“We have to capitalize on our power plays, that’s what’s important,” Kovalev said. “We’re not doing our job on the power play.”