Although the Habs put up a disappointing early effort at home, it is pretty clear that most are happy with the team being up 2-1 in the series against their arch-nemesis, the Boston Bruins. However, one concern that permeates many of the discussions relates to the size and physicality of the B’s. In this playoff themed edition of Around the Boards, we focus on this ever present issue and how it was perceived at different points in the still young series.
Wamsley01:The only fear I have is a continuation of the nonsense that has already occurred. The Bruins have still suffered ZERO ramifications from their mauling in the 8-6 game or the Chara incident. Thereisn’t exactly any precedent to fear any league enforced penalties.
BrenDittero:As far as the Bruins gooning it up goes, it will probably happen – especially if we lead the series by a game or more. On the flip side, Boston probably won’t want to give up too many power plays with stupid penalties.
The Chicoutimi Cucumber:Boston has big, physical forwards, but other than Chara they are NOT particularly huge or intimidating on the blueline. Now look at the Habs. We have small forwards, but our blueline is anything but small. Hammer is big. Gill is a hulk. PK is built like a brick outhouse. Spacek, while not huge, is also robust. Mara is tough. Sopel is a rock. And so forth.
Wamsley01:The thing that everybody is constantly forgetting is that the Bruins have not manned up on ice yet. Every time the Canadiens beat the Bruins, their reaction is to not beat them, it is to beat them up. The Habs aren’t playing that game and the Bruins look confused.
Perhaps because of the fact it is constantly hammered into our heads by the media or maybe due to the final few games versus the Bruins, we all seem to have an obsession over size and toughness. Clearly, we both overestimate the importance of said physicality and underestimate the grit of the Canadiens squad.
We overestimate its importance because, while it is well and good to hit players, it is mighty hard to hit someone you cannot keep up with. It may be a cliché and the Bruins certainly do dish out some good hits, but how often do you really see Plekanec, Cammalleri, Gomez or Gionta get absolutely laid out? They are smart and fast players who simply do not put themselves in positions to get crushed.
On top of that, we do have a tendency to underestimate the grit of the Canadiens. Smaller forwards like Gionta or Desharnais would not stick in the big show if they did have the heart to compensate for their diminutive statures. Other role players, such as Ryan White, Mathieu Darche, Paul Mara and Brent Sopel are more than able to hold their own in physical contests. When we stop fixating on our smaller group of scoring forwards and look at the rest of the lineup, we begin to see the outline of a bigger and more physical team, especially on the blueline, as TCC pointed out above. Boston has certainly bought into the notion that Montreal can be conquered by sole physical might and have failed miserably at getting opposing players to retaliate. In the end, it might be good to continue perpetuating this misguided belief.
That’s it for this week’s ATB. Until next time, see you on the boards.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.