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Bear Essentials: Final Thoughts on Saturday

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins

Michael Ryder, meet Zdeno Chara.

Well, apparently I am doing something right, True Believers, because, for the first time, I have earned some hate mail from Habs fans.

A little shocking, to be true, because I would think that those people hoping to get some news about their beloved bleu, blanc et rouge team would log into sites whose primary colors are not gold and black.

But I digress…often.

"The Others" apparently did not like the opening paragraph to my game story the other day when I wrote:

"If they counted punches instead of shots on net, and KO's instead of goals, the Boston Bruins came away from their Saturday night match up at Montreal's Bell Centre clear winners. It was a hockey game, however, and despite the B's dominance on the fight card, the Montreal Canadiens outlasted the Black & Gold to the tune of 7-4."

I guess the truth hurts (I know, because the truth of the loss hurt). But, and I am sure I am not alone here in the Garden in this sentiment when I say that I would have preferred the two points instead of a 4-0 on the fight card.

That's why up tick in mail is even funnier.

Last season, I didn't hear a peep from those fans wearing le tricolor. Maybe, despite Montreal's dominance of the scoreboard (this year AND last, mind you), Canadiens fans are a little more wary of the Black & Gold.


One guy even wrote in saying that we should get used to (perhaps enjoy?) watching Carey Price play. I agree. For sure, he is outstanding -- and a joy to watch and surely has a bright (if not amazing) future in this league.

But, presently, we have Tim Thomas. And by comparison, Tim is 2nd in NHL Save Percentage (Price is 17th). The Tank is 7th in Goals-Against-Average (Price is 24th). And all of that happened with Mr. Thomas seeing the 6th most shots in the league (Price is not in the top-30).

So, while aesthetically, I agree that Mr. Price is outstanding -- perhaps even sublime, I will gladly keep Timmy (and his tornados), thank you very much.

Obviously, the B's have had their problems with Montreal this year (numerically speaking: 0-3-0 and six losses in a row over two seasons), but I have a feeling that Our Boys may have a final say before the season concludes.

Having seen them play their best on the West Coast and in games versus Buffalo, Ottawa and Toronto, simple mathematics points to a turnaround against the Habs.

Oops, I might have just earned some more hate mail…

Congrats to "Big Bird"
Sticking with the Canadiens theme, I just wanted to say congratulations to Larry Robinson for having his number 19 raised to the rafters this evening. It is a very rare honor in both the Garden and the Bell Centre and is entirely deserved for the great "Big Bird."' Manny Almela put this "by-the-numbers" list honoring Mr. Robinson:

Words don't quite do Larry Robinson's brilliant career justice.
Here are a few numbers that could do the trick.

Bobby, meet Larry. (Babineau)
50-Population of Marvelville, ON, where Robinson grew up just outside of Ottawa.
10-Number of times Robinson led all Canadiens defensemen in points.
21-Number of postseason points put up by Robinson during the 1978 playoffs to tie Guy Lafleur for the league lead, as Robinson became the third defenseman to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
+120-Club-record plus-minus differential posted by Robinson in 1976-77.
203-Team record number of playoff games played by Robinson with the Canadiens.
0-Number of times Robinson missed the playoffs over the course of his 20-year NHL career, including 17 seasons with the Canadiens. His 20-straight postseason appearances remain an NHL record.
85-Number of points racked up by Robinson in 1976-77 to set a Canadiens club record for defenseman which still stands today.
1202-Number of regular season games played by Robinson with the Canadiens, second on the team’s all-time list behind Henri Richard (1,256).

He certainly was a thorn in the Bruins side for a long time!

By the looks of the picture above, Bob Sweeney knows that pretty well (literally) . Ouch!

And speaking of that picture, it and many others will be put into one volume for the start of next hockey season. Steve Babineau and Rob Simpson are collaborating on a book of Steve's photos entitled Black & Gold.

Look for it in September...

Afternoon update
As expected, Coach Julien said that he was not satisfied with the team's performance on Saturday night.

"We need to try and figure out how we can play good defensive hockey combined with good offensive hockey," he said. "Offensively we (created) some good scoring chances...but we came back into our own end and kind of forgot about we've done well.

"So somehow we've got to combine both."

Poor on-ice planning was a culprit as well.

"We seemed (fine) in the morning, we seemed sharp and we seemed alert," said Julien. "Then all of a sudden in the game -- some of the decision making you kind of wondered where it came from.

"And it wasn't just one guy, it was basically the whole team.

"I don't think it was the (defensemen), it was a team collapse," he said.

When confronted with the fact that the goals, the shots and the fighting made for outstanding hockey entertainment, Coach Julien said he understood the sentiment.

"I figured that might be the case, " said Julien. "But it didn't give us two points."

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