Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Habs & Bruins: Game 3

Canadiens lead best-of-7 series 2-1

The Montreal Canadiens will look to bounce back fromt heir first loss of the season against Boston tonight in game 4.

Boston needed their 11th confrontation with Montreal this year to notch a win, and that win put an end to a 14-game Montreal winning streak over the Bruins, dating back to last year.

Milan Lucic has been the story of the Bruins so far as he is effectively using his size and skill to create plays. Milan leads the NHL in hits in the postseason with 18.

The other key element for the Bruins thus far has been their penalty kill. Ranked 28th in the regular season, Boston have revamped their shorthanded mentality and have switched to a tighter box in front of Tim Thomas all the while adding more agressive checking on the Habs point men. The result? #1 ranked Montreal's powerplay is exectuing at just under 6%, going 1-for-18 thus far.

The Habs will need to find a way to get the powerplay going a.s.a.p as they are now dealing with a Bruins team that is high on momentum and motivation having won their first game vs. Montreal in well over a year.

The key line has been that of Tom Kostopoulos (team leader at +3), Steve Begin and Bryan Smolinski (tied for team lead with Kostopoulos with 3 points). This line needs to continue doing exactly what it's doing; grinding it out and laying the body on the Bruins defence, all the while creating scoring chances.

The problem that needs addressing immediately is the ineffectivness of Montreal's go-to line in Alex Kovalev, Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn. This line needs to shift into gear as of tonight to attempt to avoid having the Bruins tie the series at 2 heading back to Montreal.

No lineup changes are confirmed as Guy Carbonneau stated that the lineups will be a game-time decision. In all likelihood, however, expect to see Ryan O'Byrne inserted into the lineup to provide that extra physical element that the Habs need to wear down the Bruins forward contingent. Patrice Brisebois MAY be the healthy scratch, as could be Mathieu Dandenault, which would surely see Mark Streit return to offense.

Puck drop scheduled for 7:08.

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