Game 40, Away Game 21 | Friday January 1, 2016 
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, MA.

CANADIENS
Montreal

teamlogo_canadiens

5-1

BRUINS
Boston

(Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lineup

Forward lines and defense pairings: 

Pacioretty – Plekanec – Gallagher
Eller – Galchenyuk – Carr
Fleischmann -Desharnais – Weise
Flynn – Mitchell – Byron

Beaulieu – Subban
Markov – Petry
Barberio – Emelin

Goaltenders:

Condon
Scrivens

Scratches:  Devante Smith-Pelly, Jarred Tinordi, Greg Pateryn
Injured reserve:  Brendan Gallagher, Carey Price, Tom Gilbert

Game Report

This game provided a tailor-made perfect opportunity for the Montreal Canadiens to pull themselves off the mat and re-establish themselves as a team to be reckoned with in the NHL. It was a game on the international stage against their most bitter rival set in a football stadium packed with hostile fans. If you can’t get up for a game like that?

Mike Condon had the background that presented the perfect narrative for writers: a young american goalie who grew up just minutes from the site of the 2016 Winter Classic. A fan of the Patriots, the regular occupants of Gillette Stadium, Condon included images of the NFL team on his mask specially made for the January 1st game. But to complete the storybook ending, Condon had to play the game of his life.

And perform he did disappointing the majority of his fellow Massachusetts residents. “I don’t think you could script it any better,” said Condon post-game. Indeed!

And while Condon played extremely well, particularly under all that pressure, he was not the primary reason for the Canadiens Winter Classic win.

Brendan Gallagher was writing a rather different chapter of a storybook. The right-winger had been sidelined for about six weeks with two fractured fingers courtesy of a slapshot off the stick of former Bruin, Johnny Boychuk. Gallagher had a goal and an assist in 18:12 of icetime after a 17-game layoff.

Condon said that Gallagher “certainly provided a spark” to the team and spoke about how irritating he can be to goaltenders.

And while Gallagher played extremely well, particularly in his first game back, he was not the primary reason for the Canadiens Winter Classic win.

Friday’s game also featured the return of the Canadiens regular trios. Certainly having Gallagher back in the lineup helped reunite the most effective top line but there really was no logical reason that Michel Therrien dismantled the rest of the combinations. With chemistry returned to the lineup, the Canadiens were once again able to use their speed to neutralize an opponent, something they were unable to do for the entire month of December.

And while the Canadiens could have found a way to cope with the absence of a top line winger and their most valuable player in goal, they were unable to do it at the same time that the lineup was turned upside down. With new the lines being ineffective, confidence plummeted and already existing problems were exacerbated. The perfect ingredients for a long slump. And Therrien proved to be the mad chef.

Players spoke about how they had been instructed to simply their game to counter the effects of unpredictable outdoor ice. The strategy seemed to work. If only the coach had simplified his approach to the game in the preceding weeks and had resisted the temptation to tinker with the lineup while missing two of their key players.

The truth is that we have not seen this Canadiens team since November 25th when they beat the New York Rangers by the same 5-1 score. It was the first game following Brendan Gallagher’s injury. Devante Smith-Pelly filled in quite nicely on the first line scoring twice for the first multiple goal game of his career. In that game Carey Price picked up his 10th victory of the season but left the game after the second period with an injury. Sven Andrighetto, banished to the press box for the last few weeks of December, opened the scoring with his first goal of the season.

The lines were torn apart a few games later on December 3. The Habs promptly lost to the Capitals and the December losing streak was underway. Hopefully some stability can help the Canadiens continue on the right track until their best player, Carey Price, returns.

Max Pacioretty had struggled throughout the losing streak, his play being dragged down by a third-line winger and a centre not worthy of the first line position. Reunited with his regular linemates for the Winter Classic, Pacioretty had a goal, an assist, six shot attempts and a plus-2 rating.

The Habs head back to Montreal on Friday night and will return to the road for their next game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday.

▲     Mike Condon, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Alex Galchenyuk, Lars Eller, Alexei Emelin, Daniel Carr, Mark Barberio

 Statistics 
CANADIENS BRUINS
30 Shots 28
0 for 4 Power Play 0 for 3
54% Face-offs 46%
14 Penalty Minutes 16
18 Hits 29
43 Corsi For 59
 Scoring
 FINAL 1 2 3 OT SO T
 Canadiens (22-15-3) 1 2 2 5
 Bruins (20-13-4) 0 0 1 1
Scorers Goalies
  • MTL: Desharnais (8), Byron (6), Gallagher (10), Pacioretty (16), Byron (7)
  • BOS: Beleskey (8)
  • MTL: Condon (W) 11-9-3
  • BOS: Rask (L)  14-10-3
 NHL Three Stars
NHL3stars
  1. Brendan Gallagher  FLA
  2. Mike Condon  FLA
  3. Matt Beleskey FLA

 Video Highlights 

 Post-game Press Conference
Coach Michel Therrien
186237429_slide

  • “This is a great souvenir for players. You want to remember that day, and the best way to remember that day is to win this hockey game. We didn’t want it to be a nightmare. We want to make sure that we’re going to have good memories and build on that big win. We have to build on that.

Max Pacioretty

  • “It’s so weird, I didn’t even think about our struggles, our scoring struggles or our winning struggles. It really felt like a new year and we turned the chapter on last month. We don’t want to think about December. We want to think about 2016. We started off on the right foot and we’ve got to keep going that same way.”

Brendan Gallagher

  • “I said all along as soon as I was hurt I wanted to get back for this game, but I didn’t want to come back for selfish reasons; I only wanted to come back if I could help the team win and be a contributor. I think everyone did that. Shift after shift we went out and we got the job done.”

P.K. Subban

  • “It’s big. For us, maybe this game means a little more because of the way things have gone over December, but a win is a win. The thing is now that it’s over, you got to get ready for the next game. This is not a Stanley Cup championship game, this is a Winter Classic, but obviously it’s a big stage and a lot of people are watching, and it definitely feels good to win this one.”

Bruins coach Claude Julien

  • “The unfortunate part is that I think we played probably one of our worst games at the worst time. We couldn’t get anything going the first period. They were all over us. We obviously didn’t deserve to win. Unfortunate that it was on a big stage like this, and you would like to have your team give a better performance, but we didn’t.”

Quotes courtesy of NHL.com

 Social Media: Follow @AllHabs on Twitter
https://twitter.com/jas_155/status/682997689844379652

Follow @AllHabs on Twitter

Be sure to follow @AllHabs on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube

  • 3cats

    Great coaching job again by Therrien.Maybe the sit on their ass know- it – all critics will shut up for a week !

    • Great coaching job Bill? All Therrien did was reassemble the lines that he demolished for no reason a month ago. In other words, Therrien finally listened to informed analysts that you are so fond of blindly criticizing. Nice try on the spin!