Price proves regular season is 'irrelevant'

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Price proves regular season is 'irrelevant'

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- If you're the gambling type, putting your money on the Bruins' offense over Carey Price at the TD Garden wasn't exactly a painful bet.

The last two times Montreal's top goaltender put on the white jersey and took to the pipes in Boston, he was embarrassed. On Feb. 9, Price allowed eight goals. On March 24, he allowed five before being yanked in the third period.

He latest trip to the Garden, however, wasn't nearly as forgettable. For on Thursday night, Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Canadiens' All-Star picked up his first playoff win since 2008 and his third career postseason shutout.

"Whatever happened in the regular season is pretty irrelevant right now," said Price after Montreal's 2-0 win over Boston. "It's a different season. It's a different kind of hockey. And tonight, like I said, it was an excellent road game."

Price made 31 saves on the night, including a flurry of shots in a second period in which the Bruins outshot the Habs, 18-6. And that shot differential could have been worse had Canadiens players not been diving all over the ice throughout the period, sacrificing their bodies to block Boston's shots.

The combination of the two led to a big fat zero on the scoreboard for the Bruins when Game One was all said and done.

"When you look at the kind of season Price had, he was our most valuable player," said Montreal coach Jacques Martin after the game. "He gave us a chance to win every night. We're very confident in his ability, and it's up to us to give him some help, some good protection. And that's why it should be a good series."

If Price continues to play like he did on Thursday night, it will be exactly why Montreal will continue to be in the series, if not advancing to the next round.

It's Price's game that headlines the blueprint to the Canadiens' success in this series. You just didn't really know what you were going to get out of him, especially at the Garden.

But just as much as his NHL-high 38 wins in the regular season are out the window, come playoffs, so are his second-most 28 losses.

And after being Jaroslav Halak's backup in last year's Eastern Conference Finals run, Price is trying to start a new postseason legacy, one that doesn't include getting swept by the Bruins in the first round, something he experienced as the team's starting goaltender two seasons ago.

So what's changed since his last playoff win, three seasons ago?

"I think I'm just more mature, I guess," said Price after Thursday night's shutout. "I've got an excellent group in front of me. We really play excellent defensively, so that helps me out a lot.

"You can't buy age or experience. I've gone through a lot since my last win in the playoffs."

He's gone from "Jesus" Price (a nickname bestowed upon him by the Habs' faithful) to Halak's backup, to an All-Star goalie who may or may not show up in a big game.

He showed up on Thursday night at the TD Garden, and his current teammates notice a difference.

"I think everybody's seen the maturity level," said Brian Gionta after his two-goal performance. "This time last year . . . he's changed a lot. His work ethic, his mental game really came about, and you saw the maturity starting. He carried it through the summer, and you saw the results through the season."

"He's one of the best in the world now," said Scott Gomez. "He's set that presence. Whether he likes it or not, he set the bar that high. He's been waiting for this.

"He's just an even-keeled guy," added Gomez. "He was a part of it last year. He's just on a different level now. Watch him in practice. Watch his presence. Watch the way he walks. He's been waiting for this. That's one area we're not really concerned with."

After his Game One shutout, everyone in the Montreal dressing room is all in on Price.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

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Nash scores a pair of goals in Bruins 2-1 win over Islanders

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins knew they needed to find stellar performances somewhere in order to come out of a must-win game vs. the Islanders with two points, and they got exactly that.

Riley Nash had his best game as a member of the Bruins with a pair of goals scored in a 2-1 win over the Islanders at the Barclays Center that snapped a four game losing streak, and pushed them back into the wild card playoff spot.

It wasn’t a perfect game for the Black and Gold by any means and it was nip-and-tuck all the way, but it was important for the Bruins to show they could pull out those kinds of games late in the season.

Things didn’t look all that great early when John Tavares cut through the Bruins defense in the first period, and whistled a wrist shot from the high slot that went through Adam McQuaid’s legs before beating Anton Khudobin. The Bruins responded, however, on the very next shift with Nash stealing the puck from Scott Mayfield in the neutral zone, and beating Thomas Greiss short side for the important game-tying goal.

It looked like the Bruins had their go-ahead score in the first period on a second-effort power play goal by Frank Vatrano, but that was wiped out by a coach’s challenge that ruled David Backes interfered with Greiss in front of the New York net.

So the Bruins needed to wait until the third period when Boston’s fourth line stepped up and won the massively important game for Boston. Dominic Moore fed Riley Nash hustling into the offensive zone, and he weaved through the Islanders defense before snapping a shot past Greiss for his second goal of the game and his seventh on the season for the Bruins. 

Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

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Bruins know they 'have to go all in' vs. Islanders to control playoff fate

BROOKLYN, NY – The Bruins woke up on Saturday morning and found themselves out of the playoff picture for the first time in months by virtue of the one game in hand the New York Islanders have over the Black and Gold.

That makes Saturday night’s tilt against the Isles at the Barclays Center all the more important. A win will put the Bruins back into the lead for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and a loss would further drop them out of the playoff picture. It’s the biggest game of the season for the Bruins made that much grander in scale because Tuukka Rask is suddenly out with a lower body injury, and the Bruins will need a superior effort to snap a four game losing streak that has them teetering on the brink of playoff oblivion.

With all this swirling around, the Bruins know they can seize control of their playoff destiny with a win that will send them spinning off in the right direction. A loss will…well, that’s something the B’s don’t even want to entertain at this point after collapsing down the stretch in each of the last two seasons.

“With where we’re at right now, we can’t have any moral victories. Now it’s about doing the job and bearing down. We have to go all in tonight and have a big game. Hopefully the guys understand how important of a game it is and we have a big night,” said Brad Marchand. “I think we’re all excited. This is when we love to play when the game means so much, and it has a playoff feel. We’re fighting for our lives right now. It’s a great mood in the room, so hopefully we have a big bounce back.”

While the big picture can’t possibly be ignored given what’s happened with the Bruins this week, Bruce Cassidy also cautioned that simply viewing Saturday night as a two-point game was the best technique for success. Otherwise things could become overwhelming and packed with too much pressure when it should be something the Bruins are embracing rather than dreading.

“I hope our guys are creating some positive energy out there. This time of year you just need to have that mindset that it’s one game at a time,” said Cassidy. “You don’t look back, and you stay in the moment. That’s the message that gets conveyed to the group and for the most part they’ve done a good job with that. We just need to play our game and play it well.

“I truly believe they’ll bounce back. They didn’t have their best on Thursday and I think we’ve addressed that game. I believe they’ll take a lot of pride in their game tonight. Your leaders need to lead and your followers need to follow, and that’s a recipe for success for most teams. We’re no different and I expect that to be the case [against the Islanders].”

On the other side of the coin, it will be look out below if the Bruins drop a fifth straight game and continue a downward spiral as the Leafs, Lightning and Islanders are seem to be hitting their late season stride at the same time.