MONTREAL — It all started with a few questions from the Montreal-based media on Sunday, after Game 2, with Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton asked if shooting high on Carey Price was a conscious strategy for the Bruins.
Said Hamilton, “I think we’ve definitely noticed that when he’s screened, he’s looking low, he gets really low. So it seems like we’ve scored a lot of goals up high when we have net-front presence. I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we definitely noticed that.”
The quotes resulted in a bit of a war of words between the teams’ coaches, with Montreal’s Michel Therrien responding on Monday and Boston’s Claude Julien on Tuesday before Game 3.
“We all remember last year . . . they made the same comment when they went to the Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks talking about Corey Crawford,” Therrien said. “That’s part of the way that they’re thinking; they try to put pressure on the other team regarding the media.”
Therrien referred to a narrative last season that the Bruins had found a weakness in Crawford, that he could be beaten high glove side.
“When you look at NHL.com at the beginning of the series and you have both goalies, I don’t think there are any secrets,” Julien said, in French, on Tuesday. “I said it [Monday] and I can say it again, we hope that people will write the things that were actually said. It’s that Carey Price, I had him for several weeks with Team Canada, he’s one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League.
“I don’t think we’re here talking about weaknesses or things like that. It’s pretty obvious that thanks to him his team is very good at the moment; he’s been playing some great hockey from the start. Some things said by a young player were taken out of context, and something bigger was made of it. As I said earlier, we’re looking after our own stuff and we’re keeping the focus on what we need to do on the ice, not off the ice.”
Of course, most of the goals the Bruins have scored in this series haven’t even been high, nor does it seem the Bruins are making any special effort to beat Price in that location. Mostly they’re just trying to beat him.
“We’re going to score wherever we can on Carey,” Julien said in English. “He’s played tremendously from the start of the series.”
Before the series, NHL.com compared Price and Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, using photos that showed how many goals each has allowed based on location.
There were also some questions about how the refereeing affected the teams, something that Julien said on Saturday — saying the Bruins have had to put up with “a lot of crap” — and to which Therrien responded on Monday. That also continued.
“You know what? Everybody’s entitled to their comments,” Julien said. “People are trying to make more out of this on-ice rivalry, trying to turn it into an off-ice rivalry. Everybody’s entitled to their comments. Some of it can be gamesmanship; what it is doesn’t really matter. Right now I’m focusing on my team and what we need to do. That’s what both teams are trying to do, I think.”
Said the Bruins’ Reilly Smith, “It’s just the press and the media trying to create arguments and create banter. We stay away from that kind of stuff, and if that’s the way the media wants to portray the series and talk between the teams, that’s what they’ll do.”
Subban draws ire, again
The Bruins were once again not happy with something P.K. Subban did in the final minute of play in Game 3. With their net empty and the Bruins swarming Price, Subban knocked the net off its moorings with seconds remaining. Play was stopped to put it back, but no penalty was called.
“Yeah, well, a veteran move, I guess,” said Rask, who had been pulled for the empty net. “I mean, everybody does it. Referees, sometimes they call it, sometimes they don’t.”
Told it could have been a penalty shot, Rask said, “Is it? I didn’t know that. Maybe I should’ve [complained] about it then.”
“After [Subban] rimmed the puck, [Krug] got the puck and he found me,” David Krejci said. “I had so much room in front of me, I could have walked in. You never know what can happen with 8-to-10 seconds left. Yeah, it was frustrating at the time, but I don’t know if that was a penalty or not.”
First things first
The Bruins found a way to start fast against the Red Wings in their first-round series. They haven’t been able to do the same against the Canadiens, needing third-period comebacks in the first two games, one of which they lost and one of which they won.
But defenseman Zdeno Chara said they can’t keep relying on their third-period prowess, even though they were the best third-period team in the regular season.
“It’s about being better in the first two periods, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “It can’t be — like I said after the last game — we can’t be waiting, seeing what’s happening the first half of the game. We’ve got to be ready to play our game from the first drop of the puck.”
He added, “We can’t be relying on that. We can’t always be thinking, ‘Oh, yeah, we’re going to come back.’ It’s not always going to happen.”
The Bruins scored one goal in the third period in Game 3, but lost, 4-2.
Asked about the bench minor he was called for in Game 2, Julien said he did what he thought was best in the situation. “I don’t regret doing what I did,” he said. “I think I stood up for our team at the time, but the biggest thing is you turn around and you tell your players to turn the page and go out there in the third and play the way they can. That’s part of the message that our team has to take from the last game. When we focus on the things we can control, it’s a lot more beneficial for us than not.” . . . The Bruins have an exceptional record in Game 3s under Julien. They are 14-2 in the postseason since Julien arrived in Boston, and had won 12 straight before Tuesday’s loss. Their previous Game 3 loss came in 2009, when the Bruins fell to Carolina, eventually losing that series . . . Given the atmosphere at the Bell Centre, Chara was asked whether he says something to younger players about it. “The best way is to let them experience it,” he said. “You don’t want to overplay it or underplay it. You just want to let them have that experience on their own.” . . . In Game 3, the Bruins did not give up a power-play goal for the first time in this series. The only Boston penalty was a goalie interference infraction on Carl Soderberg at 8:44 of the third . . . Matt Bartkowski was again the healthy scratch in Game 3, with Andrej Meszaros playing again. The other scratches were Justin Florek, Corey Potter, and the injured Chris Kelly.