BOSTON (CBS) — It is Monday, the day of Game 6 between the Bruins and Canadiens, and it’s officially time to get focused on this evening’s game.
However, thanks in large part to an innocuous squirt of a water bottle, some stories from the Bruins’ 4-2 win in Game 5 got overshadowed and never saw the light of the day.
We can’t have that, now can we?
(The answer is no. That’s why I’m writing this. You really have no choice in the matter. I’m sorry … but not really.)
Let’s jump into some brief leftover thoughts before Game 5 becomes lost to the history books.
–Let’s start with the water bottle, because I’m still upset that I had to write a story about an adult man getting squirted by a water bottle. To be sure, Shawn Thornton shouldn’t have sprayed Subban during play. You can’t squirt water on the puck carrier. But to be just as clear, P.K. Subban shouldn’t have whined about it for multiple minutes after losing. Clearly, it bothered him, which is funny because his whole shtick is to be the guy who gets under the Bruins’ skin. He ducks out of Milan Lucic forechecks to avoid getting hit at all costs, he bops Lucic in the face in an effort to get the Bruins winger to turn into the Hulk and take dumb penalties, and he celebrates goals as if he just won the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl and the World Series all at once, even though in reality his goal still left his team trailing by two goals with 2:29 left on the clock.
You’d think he would be more understanding of an attempt from the other side to get under his skin, but the fact that he volunteered his displeasure about the water bottle to the media and then continued to talk about it showed that he was really mad. That he thought he could convince everyone that he couldn’t see for the final 90 seconds of the game, despite video showing the spray came with 45 seconds left and was followed by a whistle that allowed him to wipe his visor shows that much of the media is willing to eat up everything he says as gospel. His ability to work the media might be just as impressive of his ability to agitate on the ice.
–As for Thornton, it’s pretty obvious why he did it. Thornton knows that no matter what he does himself, Subban is never going to actually man up to any type of physical challenge. This is what’s changed most about the Bruins’ approach to Subban. A few years ago, there’s a zero percent chance that Lucic skates away from that mini-fight along the boards. But by now, the Bruins know what they’re dealing with — a guy who will take his opportunity to lay a hit if it’s there for him, but a guy who will avoid all other physical contact like his life depends on it. So now you see Lucic laughing in his face in Game 4 and then flexing his muscle from the bench in Game 5, and you see Thornton smiling after the water bottle spray because he knows that Subban will never, ever do anything in retaliation. The Bruins used to try to physically bully Subban. Now, they’re just laying a mental beatdown.
–We now enter the Torey Krug portion of the program. Torey Krug had a fantastic game, but the stat sheet that shows he just had one assist doesn’t nearly give him enough credit.
I witnessed his assist on Jarome Iginla’s goal with my own two eyes, yet I still don’t believe it happened on this planet. It was otherworldly. I mean … look at it:
The only person who might have been more impressed than I was? Probably Brian Gionta, who obviously never expected that pass to come out of the corner so quickly.
Krug also made the important play to set up Loui Eriksson’s goal, the Bruins’ fourth of the night. Krug picked the puck out of the skates of Lars Eller and skated behind the Boston net. Krug looked left, as if to show his intention to bang the puck up the boards to Eriksson. Krug kept his shoulders square toward that left side and by doing so, he was able to free up a passing lane up the middle to Carl Soderberg. Because of Krug’s subtle fake, Soderberg had a huge lane free for himself. He carried all the way into the offensive zone and passed to Matt Fraser, and seconds later, the Bruins led 4-1 and the game was all but over.
Bonus thanks to Pierre for giving us the inside info that the Bruins’ bench was telling Soderberg to skate. That’s just valuable information right there. How would we have ever known that on our own?
–You know which other Bruins D-man had a quietly strong night? Kevan Miller. As best as I could tell, he prevented a goal just before Tomas Plekanec went dive-bombing into Tuukka Rask. And with three minutes left, Thomas Vanek had an empty net staring him in the face, but Miller blocked Vanek’s shot with his skate. Miller does all the little things the right way, and though the results aren’t always flashy, they are a big part of the difference between winning and losing.
–Matt Bartkowski continues to tackle people every chance he gets. Tackle, tackle, tackle. His takedown of Dale Weise in double overtime of Game 1 was apparently just the beginning. The man is like the Ray Lewis of the NHL. He tackled Lars Eller in the first period and he tackled Subban in the third (though Subban’s double Axel made it look more like Bartkowski had the strength of Superman), and I guess he’s just going to keep tackling people. More power to ya, Matt.
–I felt badly for Matt Fraser. He didn’t know Carl Soderberg’s shot actually crossed the goal line, so he pounced on the loose puck in the crease and buried it. Fraser thought he scored the goal and curled away with his arm raised to celebrate, only to look over his shoulder and see his teammates crowding Soderberg.
–Brendan Gallagher’s second-period goal may have been the most Montreal goal of all time. The Canadiens went on the power play after Lars Eller held Brad Marchand yet made it look as if Marchand was the one doing all the holding. It was truly a masterful ability to draw a penalty. Tip your cap there. Then on the power play, Gallagher played dead in the corner after taking a standard shoulder-to-shoulder hit from Matt Bartkowski and the diving headfirst toward the boards in an effort to draw a boarding penalty. After Gallagher regained his consciousness, he looked over his shoulder at the referee, as if to say, “But ref, I was down on the ice for a while! I must have been hurt by that hit!”
Gallagher then made a remarkably fast recovery to speed to the net unaccounted for, and he was able to tip in the Plekanec shot. Gallagher then dropped to a knee and started fist-pumping.
It was the perfect picture of what drives Bruins fans crazy. It was a sight to behold, really.
–On that note, I watch Brad Marchand a lot and know his game very well, and I never expected to see a player ever be more annoying than him. But I’ll tell you, Brendan Gallagher does a damn good job of giving Marchand a run for his money. Gallagher plays like a bag full of dog pee, and I think he’s out-Marchanded Marchand in this series.
Here they are being best buds:
–That Gallagher goal ended a shutout streak for Tuukka Rask that was around 120 minutes. Not too shabby. In fact, Dale Weise was so impressed by Rask that he had to tell him firsthand.
–The best part of Saturday night’s Game 5 took place when the TD Garden played Bobby Orr’s Stanley Cup-winning goal to celebrate its 44th anniversary. The Garden crowd went crazy and then Bobby Orr was shown on the video board, waving from a luxury box. The place was going absolutely bonkers, and there was Bob, ever the humble guy, just sort of saying, “Yeah, OK, thank you, really. Now let’s pay attention to the guys on the ice, please.”
–OK, it’s time for Game 6. Remember, the Bruins were in this exact same position in 2011, when they headed to Montreal for Game 6 with a chance to close out the series. Instead, the Bruins were issued 25 penalty minutes (compared to Montreal’s six), which included a too many men penalty midway through the first period and a game misconduct for Milan Lucic for boarding Jaroslav Spacek early in the second period. It was a most unpleasant night for the Bruins, and those who were a part of it are surely going to use it as motivation to play a much better game this time around.
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