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  • The Bruins need to make Carey pay the Price


    The Bruins need to make Carey pay the Price

    Joe Makarski April 15, 2011

    The B's need to put Price in more of these situations (Photo: Elsa/Getty Images)

    In 2009-10 season, exactly one year ago today, the Boston Bruins dropped their Quarterfinal opening Game 1 to the Buffalo Sabres at the HSBC Arena.

    The Black-and-Gold put an eye-popping 39 shots on Sabres’ net minder Ryan Miller — and another 25 missed or blocked  — with all but one slipping past the season’s Vezina Trophy winner, as the B’s lost 2-1 that evening. The problem with that loss — akin to last night — obviously wasn’t the quantity of shots taken, but rather the quality of shots fired, or lack thereof.

    Boston rebounded the following matinée contest, defeating the Sabres 5-3, by not treating Miller like the second-coming: causing havoc, creating traffic, and getting in the grill of the Olympian goaltender.

    Fast-forward one year and the Bruins’ net-front presence in Game 1 last night again, this time against the Montreal Canadiens, was mediocre at best. Sure they threw 31 shots Carey Price’s way, but the Habs’ netminder, for the most part, had an open lane in front of him with a clear, unobstructed eye on the oncoming biscuit.

    “We had some great opportunities, but I think there’s reasons for that. I don’t think we did a very good job of taking away his [Carey Price] vision,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien last night after the 2-0 loss to the Canadiens. ” He saw a lot of shots tonight and he saw a lot of pucks. We definitely have to get better in that area if we plan on scoring some goals.”

    The NHL goal is four-feet tall by six-feet wide. But when a team uses just a fraction of that area — mostly in the middle of the goalie’s chest as if his logo were a bullseye —  then they can make even the most pedestrian of goaltenders look like Dominik Hasek. Heck, throw 31 shots in the chest of the goalie on my summer league team during my Freshman year in College and I bet he’ll save 100 percent of them, too.

    The Bruins were tip-toeing around the blue paint as if the game was going to blow up akin to the game Minesweeper if they got too close to the crease area. Nathan Horton did a decent job battling the Habs’ defensemen — especially the towering Hal Gill — establishing position in front of Price. But players like Mark Recchi, who has made the crease area his “office” for the past 22 years, and big bodies such as Milan Lucic need to cement themselves directly in front of Price’s grill. And if they happen to drift a bit into the blue paint, take a whack from Price, or even cause a little incidental contact with the goalie then so be it.

    And Julien, the one who can drill this in his minions’ heads, recognizes that has to be applied better for tomorrow night’s battle.

    “”He saw a lot of pucks tonight, and that can’t happen. If you’re going to score goals on that goaltender, you need to take away his vision and we didn’t do a good enough job of that,” he said. “We were all around the net, but we weren’t in front. You know, that’s something that has to get better.”

    We’ve seen time-and-time again that Price’s emotions can be as fragile as butterfly wings with just a little poking and prodding. Just one light of the lamp will reign “Carey” chants by the 17,565 faithful inside the TD Garden, and that’s all it may take for the 23-year-old’s confidence to come undone.

    Sure, Price had a fantastic regular season; he suited up for all but 10 contests. But remember, this is the same guy who lost his No. 1 status last year and watched Jaroslav Halak take over throughout the post season. He also surrendered four goals to the Bruins while getting the chain just a few weeks ago in his second worst start of the season — as the B’s destroyed the canadiens 7-0.

    He’s human. He gets rattled. If the Bruins crash the net hard and make some contact with No. 31 and it may make him think twice the next time he covers up the puck.

    The last thing I’d want to see happen is for an injury to occur; inflicting bodily harm on Price is not what I’m condoning.  But it’s time for the Bruins to toughen up in the offensive zone and be more aggresive around the net like they did last year in Buffalo — and in front of Miller.

    If the Bruins want to redeem themselves after last year’s collapse and win this series, then they’ll need more than just puck flying Price’s way.

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