Monday, April 13, 2009

The Hab Strategy

This picture pretty much sums up Montreal's strategy in a nut, excuse me, I mean turtle shell.

Sad part is, it can be effective. Shameful, embarrassing and pathetic, but effective. Of course, it's only effective if the Bruins allow it to be. And as tempting as it is to want to hammer away on anyone that cheap shots and chirps then runs away or simply turtles, the B's by now are wise to these tactics. I don't expect to see a parade of marauding Bruins headed to the penalty box after trying to exact revenge for the chippyness Montreal is sure to bring to the series. Boston will simply have to bide their time, and wait for appropriate situations to present themselves in order to "pay back" some of the nonsense. Players like komisarek, O'Byrne (if he plays), Kostopoulus, Plecanek and Gorges are sure to do some things to get the B's blood boiling. Patience is key. There will be plenty of time to blast them with legal checks etc. With luck, the officials will have their eyes open and be aware of what the Habs are doing. Because Montreal's strategy will be to initiate altercations, and pray that the ref just sees the retaliation. If Boston doesn't respond (or at least OVER react), they'll have a field day on the power play.

The most interesting, IE; hysterical theory I've seen floated from Montreal is that the Habs will....wait for it.......seriously, you may want to sit down.....ready?...OK, I've seen it written that Montreal will try to "intimidate" the Bruins! I know! That was my reaction too! To be specific, the suggestion is that Gainey will copy Carbeneau's (failed) strategy of having Georges Laraque "shadow" Lucic. It's proposed that BGL will "challenge" Lucic to fight all night as "pay back" for his "attack" on Komisarek last week. This is funny on so many levels. First of all, I don't think Gainey is dumb enough to waste a top line spot on Laraque the way the Rodent did. Hell, I'll be mildly surprised if BGL even dresses for the playoffs, unless the Scabs find themselves down a couple games or more.
Beyond the fact that it wasn't Gainey's call the first time they tried it, is the fact that when they did that, the game was in Montreal. This time, Julien will be able to get the last change and defuse the whole thing anyway. Plus, you just know Julien will give Looch another "no fighting Laraque" mandate. And, BGL being the self proclaimed "keeper of the code", all Looch or anyone else has to do is just say "no thank you" when asked to fight. Suddenly, the big man is rendered impotent. As much as Canadiens fans like to think this tactic worked last time, Lucic had one of his better games all year that night. He threw more hits than anyone in the game, and scored the winning goal. So please, by all means Mr. Gainey, I'm begging you. PLEASE use this same brilliant strategy again.
Personally, I think if Gainey dresses Laraque, they can kiss the series goodbye early. If he dresses and plays his "normal" role, he won't see more spot than five minutes of ice time. And I'm all for an opposing team wasting a roster spot in the playoffs. And if Gainey does decide to increase his ice time, especially to shadow Lucic (who will probably be on the top line with Kessel and Savard), well.......Savard will feel like he's on a power play every shift. Sideshows don't win hockey games. And BGL dressing would be nothing more than a sideshow. The man simply can't play hockey.

So what should Boston's strategy be then? Simple. End of strategy. Seriously, if the B's keep the game plan as simple as possible, they'll win going away. Boston plays it's best hockey when it uses it's speed and size to play a straight line game. Crisp passes out of their zone, speed through center ice sets up options for their attack. If the D backs off, Boston forwards can press the attack, either driving hard to the net, or pulling up and hitting a late trailer/defenseman filling the void behind them. If the Habs try to stand up at the line, no problem. Chip it deep and use your wheels to get to the puck first. If the habs D gets to the puck first, Boston's distinct size advantage allows them to punish the wimpy Montreal defenders. Over the course of a long game,never mind series, Canadien Defensegirls will wear down and cough up pucks. It really is a simple game when you get right down to it. As long as Boston keeps it simple, they're fine. For the first time in a long time, the Bruins are clearly the more talented team at every position. keep it simple, control your emotions and win the series. Simple never looked so fun.

I'll try to break down individual match-ups etc as the week goes on, but for now all you need to know is this. HABS SUCK. Go B's- Kynch

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