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If it helps the Montreal Canadians feel any better, they were not expected to perform this well in their quarterfinal match-up against the Boston Bruins. As online betting for Kentucky Derby favorites heats up, the Canadians are still in this series and could force a seventh game with a win in game six. NHL fans expected the bigger and stronger Bruins to dispatch the Canadians in straight games. But Canadians have been able to push back against the size and speed of the Bruins, and the result is a game six in Montreal.
The pay per head observers have noticed that the Canadians seemed to have the Bruins’ number early in this series. Montreal won the first two games of the series in Boston, but then lost the next three games in a row. Through the fog of losing three straight, the Canadians have the play of their goaltender Carey Price to fall back on. Price faced 51 shots in game five and willed the game into overtime. The Bruins eventually took game five in sudden death, but the Canadians made it clear that they are not going anywhere quietly in this series. If the Canadians can take just one game on home ice in this series, then it goes back to Boston to decide the winner.
It took two overtimes before Boston’s Nathan Horton scored his second goal of the playoffs to finally beat the Canadians. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas turned away 44 of 45 shots which included a 14-shot third period onslaught by the Canadians. The Bruins seem to be having some problems dealing with the speed of Montreal. While the Canadians do not offer any threat in terms of size, the inability of the Bruins’ defense to keep up with the Canadians has been causing problems. The Bruins’ offense, on the other hand, has been going back and forth with Montreal goaltender Carey Price all series long. Price was at his best in game five, but the relentless crashing of the Montreal net finally got a puck past Price. The Bruins will continue their physical play and try to slow the Canadians forwards be grinding along the boards.
The Canadians are unable to push back against the Bruins when the Bruins decide to flood the Montreal zone. If Montreal can control of the puck in the defensive zone, then they are having decent success clearing the puck. But the challenge for the smaller Canadians is wrestling the puck away from the stronger Bruins. Boston goaltender Tim Thomas has been surprisingly inconsistent in this series, but he was strong in game five. The Canadians have learned that if they keep the puck moving around Thomas, then they can eventually find an opening. Thomas uses a very unconventional goaltending style that sometimes finds him out of position. The Canadians need to exploit that to win game six.
The Bottom Line
The Bruins are rolling and there does not seem to be much that Montreal can do about it. This game will be close but, in the end, the Bruins will move on to round two of the Eastern Conference playoffs.