One of the biggest news items coming out of the NHL trade deadline was forward Thomas Vanek being dealt from the Islanders to the Canadiens.
Montreal felt that Vanek, whose refusal to sign an extension with the Islanders prompted the trade, would provide offensive reinforcement for the stretch run and the playoffs.
So far, in five postseason games, Vanek has 3 points, one of which is a goal.
His line, with left wing Max Pacioretty and center David Desharnais, didn’t fare well in Game 1 against the Bruins Thursday night, so coach Michel Therrien jumbled his lines fairly early in the contest.
Vanek, who logged 31 shifts over 18 minutes, 58 seconds of ice time in the Habs’ 4-3 double overtime victory, knows he can be better.
“As a line and even as a team, I don’t think we played well,’’ said Vanek. “[Goalie Carey Price] stole us the game and [defenseman P.K. Subban] stepped up and had [two] big goals.
“We’re not ignorant for us [needing] to be better as a line and myself as an individual. When things aren’t going well, you’re going to change lines — there’s a message there for sure, but I have to be better. As a line, we have to do more.’’
One of Vanek’s strengths has been his ability to drive to the net. The Bruins are not the easiest team against whom to do that, though.
“The last game especially, give them credit, I thought they played well,’’ said Vanek. “But I think we were chasing the puck all night. The way we like to play is puck possession.
“I think when we’re effective as a line is when we have the puck. We get the puck low and create things on our own and myself, get to the net.
“I thought we were passive and second on the puck.’’
Therrien said Vanek isn’t the only one who needs to generate more.
“There are a few players on our team who I believe need to step up their game regarding [Game 1] and he’s one of them,’’ said Therrien. “I’m not here to mention any names but as a group, we’ve got to be better and we will.
“I’m not worried and we’re glad we’ve got Thomas Vanek in our lineup because he could be a dangerous guy.’’
When Vanek was playing for the Buffalo Sabres, he enjoyed playing against the Bruins and had a consistent level of success. He said he and his line are hoping to duplicate that in this series.
“Sometimes you get bounces or whatever,’’ he said. “I think we got away with one. We’re happy we won Game 1 but I don’t think anyone is happy with how we won it. Carey stood on his head and won it for us.
“For us, even on faceoffs, Pac and I need to help out David a little bit and start with the puck instead of chasing it.’’
One Montreal reporter thought Vanek may have been ailing, but Vanek shot that down immediately.
When asked if he was less than 100 percent, Vanek said, “No, it’s a matter of not being good. It’s as simple as that. Sometimes you overthink the game. We have to realize all three of us are good hockey players and we’ve got to start making plays again.’’
Despite the controversy over the racist tweets aimed at Subban, Vanek said he has a lot of affection for the city of Boston. And that’s also despite some fans chucking water bottles at the Canadiens after Thursday’s game.
“I understand fans are passionate, but after the game is over, you kind of leave it at that,’’ said Vanek. “I was with Buffalo about a year ago [after the Boston Marathon bombing] and I saw how the fans were back then. We saluted them — that’s what you want to see. That’s the good side of it.
“I thought the way both teams saluted [the city] was very strong and heartfelt. It was a great moment I’ll never forget.
“I’ve never seen this side of it with the water bottles and stuff. For me, you can’t take it as a group of fans, it’s almost certain individuals. It’s still too bad that I that it happened.’’