Sunday night’s game started out like it was going to be one of those whacky, offense-filled games between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens. Which there haven’t been many of those kinds of games lately between these two hated-rivals, they’re almost always decided by one goal, at least recently.
Well, it ended up being a one goal game as Montreal scored two goals in the 3rd (on just 4 shots) and went on to win the game in Boston by a score of 4-3. The win also put the Canadiens back atop the Eastern Conference and Northeast Division.
After the game, Bruins fans and some analysts were quick to shift the blame of the loss from the Bruins to the Canadiens. They said the Habs embellished and dove to get power-play chances. Even Bruins head coach Claude Julien got in on the whining and it’s easy to see why they were quick to look for an excuse, I mean it was pretty easy. There were 14 penalties called in the game and 9 of them went against the hometown team.
When it comes to rivalries, especially one as heated as Boston versus Montreal, there is so much emotion in the building and on the ice that these games are usually riddled with penalties and the refs try their best to keep things under control. Sometimes I think it would be best to put the whistles away and only use them when the penalty is blatant, ruins a scoring chance or shows intent to injure. Many of the calls last night did not fall into any of those categories.
Sure, there were awful calls, but it’s my opinion they went both ways, but obviously more against the Bruins. I understand Boston had just two power-play opportunities to Montreal’s five. However Montreal was 1 for 5 on the PP and that goal came on their first PP of the game. The Bruins PP is so awful that people criticize it daily, now all of a sudden it could’ve saved them even though in the first they couldn’t even get a shot on net while on the PP.
All of this brings us to the play that changed the game in my opinion. With about 5 minutes left in the second period Bruins forward Tyler Seguin was rushing through the neutral zone. He then slid a pass across to Patrice Bergeron and then Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin stepped up and hit Seguin, Seguin went down like he had been shot. It all seemed pretty harmless and at first I thought Seguin himself may have been diving.
But then Bruins captain Zdeno Chara raced up the ice and crushed Emelin, who was nowhere near the puck or the play, and then waited for Emelin to get up so he could contiune to hit him until the refs finally dragged them apart.
After seeing the replay, we got to see that Emelin crosschecked Seguin right in the midsection and actually broke his stick on the hit. Does the stick breaking make it worse? Only to the eyes and in the mind, sticks these days are about as durable as toothpicks. But the crosscheck was blatant and should’ve been called.
Also, I want to give Emelin credit, most guys would’ve turtled or stayed on the ice knowing Chara was standing over them. But this kid dropped his gloves and tried to defend himself as best he could.
Chara was called for instigating, fighting and received a 10-minute game misconduct. He had to spend 17 minutes in the box and at the time he went in, about 5 minutes left in the 2nd, the Bruins were up 3-2.
With Chara in the box for most of the 3rd, Montreal was able to take advantage of the space they were given in the slot by the sloppy Bruins defense and they were able to score 2 goals on just 4 shots and as you know, they went on to win the game.
For the record, I have no problem with what Chara did, however the calls on him were right and what he did was technically wrong. Its a shame the refs didn’t catch Emelin’s cross-check but they’re human and mistakes happen.
So, what does all this have to do with Montreal diving? Nothing really if you ask me. Sure, Montreal likes to “poke the bear” and they’ve taken dives in the past. But this Canadiens team is pretty scrappy and plays the game pretty damn hard. As shown on their game-tying and game-winning goals. I mean they scored 2 goals on 4 shots, none were on the PP so can we really blame the refs for that?
How about the Bruins pathetic defensive showing at times last night and in too many games this season. If you were actually watching last night’s game you noticed that on pretty much every goal Montreal scored, someone or multiple people were out of place defensively for the Bruins. On the first two Montreal goals specifically, defenseman were taken out of the play because they were trying to land a big hit. Why don’t we talk about that? I guess because it’s just easier to point the finger at someone else.
Don’t get me wrong, like I’ve said Montreal can still antagonize and they love to bait teams, like they did for most of last night, but it’s not their fault if people bite on the bait (figuratively and sometimes literally, looking at you Mikhail Grabovski). But to say they were embellishing or diving last night and that’s why they won is unfair to the Canadiens and shifts the blame onto the wrong person.
I understand this may be a tough pill for some to swallow, however the truth usually isn’t very easy to take. The refs or Montreal “diving” didn’t lose that game for the Bruins or win it for the Canadiens. The Bruins lost that game for the Bruins and the Canadiens won it for the Canadiens.
Also, this Canadiens team is pretty good and will be a thorn in the Bruins and their fan’s sides for years to come. We don’t have to like it, but you better get used to it and the Bruins better learn how to play a more disciplined game against Montreal or else we’re going to have a lot more nights like last night.