MONTREAL — Deciphering what the NHL deems a good hit, or what the Department of Player Safety believes is a no-no, is always tricky work.
But it's a good bet DPS will take a hard look at the smack Bruins defenseman Torey Krug put on Habs center Andrew Shaw with 6:30 remaining in the first period here Monday night.
As the two raced for a free puck, Krug lowered his shoulder and delivered a stern belt to Shaw's noggin, dropping the veteran center at center ice. Shaw needed time to straighten up, regain his legs, then made his way directly to the Habs dressing room, where he stayed for the remainder of the period before rejoining the action for the remainder of the night.
"I expected to be hit, that's why I lowered my shoulder," explained Krug, who might have to explain himself again as early as Tuesday if DPS frowns upon the contact.
"I assumed there that Andrew Shaw was going to hit me. He's going to play the body. He's a physical player."
The hit was not penalized, but the league is increasingly cautious about hits to the head and can suspend players via supplemental discipline. Earlier this season, David Pastrnak was dealt a two-game suspension for his Oct. 26 hit to the head of the Rangers' Dan Girardi.
"I watched it on TV," said Bruins coach Claude Julien said of Krug's belt. "It was a good hit."
But Julien said the same about Pastrnak's hit on Girardi, only to see Pastrnak assigned to the press box.
"It's either that or they're in on me, 2-on-0,'' noted Rask.
Rask roamed all the way to what would normally be described as the Habs right half-wall, had Montreal been on the power play.
Instead, they were in power mode. As Rask muffed a clearing attempt, he was pounded by oncoming center Torrey Mitchell.
Rask paid the price, crashing to the ice, and the Habs were unable to muster a shot on the wide-open net.
Rask was not complaining, but he stated the obvious when he said, "I wonder what would have happened if someone hit [Carey] Price like that?"
Weber a good fit
Les Glorieux roiled the faithful here over the summer when they flipped the ubertalented P.K. Subban to Nashville and brought in Shea Weber as their blue-line stalwart.
The 31-year-old Weber, whose shot off the point rivals Zdeno Chara's big bombs, has cooled off of late (0-0—0 over 5 games), but overall he has been precisely what Habs management wanted, particularly on the power play. Prior to Monday night, the 6-foot-4-inch Weber sported a line of 8-10—18, and his power play total (7-3—10) represented more than half of his offensive output.
Like when Chara cocks and loads, penalty-killers duck and cover, which has a way of loosening up a PK unit's entire approach to the two-minute man-down session.
Krug, Weber's counterpart on point duty, also has a strong shot, one he's not hesitant to hit, but it's not in the Chara-Weber ranks. It also hasn't been nearly as effective.
Consider: Prior to Monday night, Krug had yet to deliver a power play goal (0-4—4) and his overall production (1-11-12) was disappointing for someone who shoots so frequently (86 shots compared to Weber's 73). Krug is among the NHL's top seven blueline shooters. The other six on the list, including former Bostonian Doug Hamilton, average more than six goals each.
Rask, working with early deficits of 3-0 and 2-0 in his two previous starts, was back in net for the Bruins, against a Habs team that has given him fits throughout his career.
Rask again this season has been among the best in the biz and is locked in what has become a four-horse race for the Vezina Trophy.
Prior to Monday night, Rask had 14 wins, second only to Montreal's Price and the Blue Jackets' Sergei Bobrovsky (each 16 Ws).
Among goalies who have played at least 20 games, Rask (1.85) is ranked third in goals-against average, behind Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk (1.63), and Price (1.79). The big four also were bunched tightly for top save percentage: Dubnyk (.946); Price (.940), Bobrovsky (.932) and Rask (.930).
The Bruins had their post-game charter pointed southwest for Pittsburgh, where they will face the defending Cup champion Penguins on Wednesday night. Ex-Bruin Phil Kessel, 10-21—31, is on a pace for a career-high 88 points. He is also the Pens' top point producer on the power play with a line of 3-9—12 . . . All seven of the NHL's Canadian-based teams failed to make last season's playoffs, making Team DNQ a national disgrace. As of Monday morning, the Canadians had the league's best record (19-6-3), and were among four clubs in the playoff mix, joined by Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary . . . Brad Marchand began the night as Boston's top point-getter (8-17—25), a point ahead of Pastrnak's 18-6—24. Marchand's output has been overshadowed by Pastrnak's eye-popping goal-scoring pace (projecting to 50-plus goals) and the fact that L'il Ball o'Hate has been well behind his career-high ouput of 37 goals last season . . . The Bruins are back at the Garden Thursday night to face the Ducks, and then back on Causeway Street for a rare Sunday matinee (1 p.m.) against the Kings . . . Danton Heinen and Colin Miller were the scratches here for the Bruins.