BOSTON – Dougie Hamilton might have inadvertently let everybody in on a secret that the Boston Bruins have discovered about Montreal goaltender Carey Price. After the Habs netminder dazzled Boston in Game 1 to the tune of 48 saves and stole a playoff game from the Black and Gold, the Bruins struck Price for three goals in a five minute span in the third period to come back from a two goal deficit in Game 2.
What did those goals have in common?
The scores were all up high on the Montreal netminder, and Hamilton said that the Bruins have discovered Price is dropping low early when he’s bothered by players screening his view of the puck.
“I think we’ve definitely noticed that when he’s screened, he’s looking low,” said Hamilton. “He gets really low, so it seems like we score a lot of goals up high when we have net front presence. I don’t if we’re really trying [to do that], but we’ve definitely noticed that. When we can get our shots through their defenseman – especially the ones trying to block it -- we have a really good chance of getting it in.”
In Game 1 it was Johnny Boychuk that beat Price cleanly with a top corner point shot before going into his double barrel gun goal-scoring celebration, and in Game 2 all three of the pivotal third period goals were to the top half of the net.
Hamilton scored the first after stepping into a Brad Marchand pass, and depositing the puck under the crossbar with a healthy level of traffic in front of the net. Patrice Bergeron’s goal almost doesn’t count, but it also kicked up high on Price after hitting a million dollar rut in the TD Garden ice.
Then Price also dropped for the game-winner as the Bruins were working him side-to-side with lateral passing, and Reilly Smith simply elevated his shot off the Torey Krug cross-ice pass. The Montreal netminder was down and out on the play, and Smith had the whole top half of the net to shoot for while both Bergeron and Marchand battled at each side of the crease.
“It seems like almost all of the goals so far have gone to the upper half of the net,” said Krug. “We’ll see. You never know maybe in the next game they’ll all be goals to the bottom half of the net.”
All in the series, six of the seven goals scored by the Bruins – not counting the empty net goal for Milan Lucic – have been elevated shots on Price, and Krug is the lone goal that didn’t go high on the Montreal net. Instead Krug’s finishing shot appeared to beat Price to the angle just inside the far post.
Price certainly set an impressive tone in Game 1, but he’s only stopped 78-of-85 shots in the two games for a pretty pedestrian .917 save percentage vs. Boston.
It’s clear aiming high is exactly what the Bruins will be doing in Games 3 and 4 in Montreal, and it with good reason. Now it’s up to Price and the Canadiens to make the necessary adjustment as the Bruins have pinpointed a weak spot after testing him for the first six plus periods of the playoff series.