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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Whelp, There Goes That Northeast Division Banner In 2013

As much as it makes me want to light my hair on fire and stab my eye balls with a butter knife, I can admit that so far this season the Montreal Canadiens have been better than my Boston Bruins. What other rational conclusion can you reach after the Habs beat the B's 2-1 tonight at the Bell Centre to wrap up a 3-1 season series?

The win put Montreal (25-8-5) three points up on Boston (24-9-4) in the Northeast Division, the Bruins only hope is that they still have a game in hand over the Canadiens but then again they don't play head-to-head again in the regular season so they'll be swimming upstream for sure.

Goal-scoring has been a major issue for the Bruins the last three weeks (5-5-1): other than the 6-5 shootout loss to Montreal on March 27 which was an outlier, the B's have scored three goals or less in 10 of their last 11 games. That breaks down to five games of one goal, four games of two goals & one game of three goals. This makes the margin for error when it comes to their goaltenders and defense extremely thin.

That previous paragraph is why it was so inexplicable that B's head coach Claude Julien decided to put Jaromir Jagr on the third line tonight with Gregory Campbell and Daniel Paille. I'm not kidding, this really happened.

Carey Price (26 saves; 19-7-4) and Tuukka Rask (27 saves; 16-6-4) basically played to a stalemate, the difference being that Montreal had more puck luck. How else do you explain Alex Galchenyuk's goal at 6:49 of the first period? Yes, Bruins rookie defenseman Matt Bartkowski coughed up a bad turnover in his own end but Galchenyuk's attempted pass ended up going off Bartkowski's skate and in. Brandon Prust and P.K. Subban were credited with the assists when that honor should have gone solely to Bartkowski.

God damn Michael Ryder continued to torment his former employers, this time he scored a power-play goal at 57 seconds of the second period. He tipped in Subban's shot from the point for his 16th goal of the season (he would be Boston's leading scorer by two goals). Tomas Plekanec had the second assist.

The only puck that would find its way past Price was a tip by Daniel Paille at 7:10 of the second period. His seventh of the season was courtesy of Johnny Boychuk's shot following a faceoff win. For those keeping track, he has two more goals than Milan Lucic. Haha maybe Paille should be skating on that killer first line.

Nothing better symbolized Boston's inept power-play and goal-scoring touch in general than the miserable final 56 seconds of the game. The Bruins had drawn their first power play of the game and pulled Rask to have a 6-on-4. They kept the puck in Montreal's end but like the drive to nowhere from the Patriots a few years back in their playoff loss to the Jets, this was the power play to nowhere. The B's didn't even get off a shot before time expired, it's like they forgot the situation entirely.

The only solace for Boston is that they return home to face free-falling Carolina (16-19-2, 3rd in Southeast Division) on Monday (7 p.m., NESN) at TD Garden. The Bruins have 11 games left in the regular season which lasts less than three more weeks. It's time to get their game in gear before the postseason begins.

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