BOSTON – The shot blocking subject is becoming something of a painful topic in the Bruins/Canadiens series.
The Boston Bruins aren’t doing it quite enough in shutting off the P.K. Subban shot attack from the points, and the Habs defensemen are shutting off the Boston point men as a potential offensive threat by stepping in front of the slappers and wristers. Montreal defensemen blocked 22 shots in Game 3 alone at the Bell Centre, and had more blocks than the entire Bruins roster in a contest where both teams should have been spilling the bucket. The only B’s defenseman that had more than one shot on net in Game 3 was Torey Krug, and that was because he repeatedly, aggressively crashed the net looking for scoring chances.
Alexei Emelin and Josh Gorges have always been enthusiastic shot blockers, and they’ve added more of the same to their mix.
Habs defenseman Mike Weaver had the most crucial block in Game 3 when his block of an Andrej Meszaros shot turned into the Dale Weise breakaway game-winner in the second period. He’s yet another Habs defenseman that takes a lot of pride in getting out of his comfort zone to insulate his goalie.
“I have a hockey school up in Toronto, and I actually teach about being in position,” said Weaver. “If you’re positioned really sound then you can block a shot at all times, and if you’re not in position then you have to recover to get into position. That’s really tough. It’s about being in the right place at the right time, and…not really caring about your face.”
But the Bruins defensemen were having real difficulty opening up shooting lanes. Peter Chiarelli called it one of the “small details” that the Bruins have experienced trouble with in the series against Montreal, and its clear Boston could stand a few more players willing to step in front of Subban wrist shots from the point, particularly on the penalty kill.
“I’ve seen them play quite a bit this year, and they’ve got quite a few guys that want to block shots and find the lanes to get out and do it,” said Chiarelli. “Size has no bearing on whether you want to block a shot, or not. You have to want to do it.”
On the other hand three Bruins penalty killers watched a Subban wrist shot from the point get past them on the way to being a screened Habs power play goal, and that simply can’t happen in the playoffs.
The Bruins have one defensemen in the top 30 among playoff blocked shots (Johnny Boychuk is third among NHL defenseman with 28 blocked shots, and has the bruising to prove it), and Montreal has three D-men in the top 30 with both Zdeno Chara and Josh Gorges also ranking right outside the top 30. So it’s pretty clearly an advantage to the Canadiens in the series, and an area the Bruins might want to start stepping up in if they’re looking for playoff wins.