Performance was simply smashing
Mon Dieu! Somebody call 911.
This was a statement game. With a playoff atmosphere. And the Bruins won, 7-0. Folks must be in quite a lather back home in Montreal.
The puck planets are aligned. The Bruins are probably going to play the Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, and they have to be feeling great about themselves after what we witnessed last night.
“We all knew this was a huge game,’’ said Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’ treetop captain who has been in the middle of the North American hockey storm this month. “Not just because of what happened in the last few weeks, but in the standings.’’
There was no shortage of hype. The Bruins had lost four of five to the Habs, allowing 20 goals in the five games. The last time they met in the Garden, there were six fights and 182 minutes of penalties in an 8-6 Bruins win.
Then came March 8 at the Bell Centre and the hit seen-’round-the-world, when Chara steered Max Pacioretty into a stanchion, triggering an international incident. The moment morphed into modern hockey’s equivalent of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. The friendly skies of
The Bruins, particularly 43-year-old Mark Recchi, rallied around captain Chara. Recchi went on 98.5 The Sports Hub Wednesday and put a target on his back, suggesting the Canadiens had exaggerated Pacioretty’s injuries.
Last night, Recchi confessed that he did it to take the pressure off Chara.
“He is such a great teammate and a respected guy and a leader,’’ said Chara. “A classy guy. We learn so much from him.’’
“It’s been hard for us to sit here,’’ added Gregory Campbell, who scored an oh-so-rare three-on-five goal for the cherry on top.
“Z takes things personally. It’s a hard thing to handle. Rex is a leader. It’s important for us to have each other’s backs.’’
“There’s been a lot of stuff going on,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “We tried to put that aside. We’ve been targeted lately. But we’ve always been a class organization with classy players.’’
There was a distinct Charlie Sheen/Jerry Springer flavor in and around the Garden before the puck was dropped. One can only imagine how it was playing back home in Quebec. Les Habs and their fans won’t soon forgive Chara for shoving Pacioretty, and more gas was doused on the French-Canadian fires when folks learned of Recchi’s radio remarks.
The Bruins came out skating and burst to a 1-0 lead in the 61st second of play on a one-timer by Johnny Boychuk. It was the second goal of the season for Boychuk (scramble his name and you get Oh Bucyk). Thirteen minutes later, Campbell made it 2-0. Chara assisted on the first two goals.
With two seconds left on a power play at the end of the first, Nathan Horton made it 3-0.
It was certainly not a good start for Canadiens goalie Carey Price, who famously tangled with Tim Thomas on the Garden ice in early February. For good measure, Chara put Andrei Kostitsyn on his butt in the final minute of the oh-so-satisfying first period.
“I’m not going to change,’’ said Chara. “That’s my game.’’
The first dust-up of the night came with 7:17 left in the second when Belmont Hill’s Paul Mara took a shot at Recchi in front of the Canadiens goal. Mara went off for four minutes with a double minor for roughing. Recchi got two minutes.
Mara was back at it in the final minute of the second, going toe-to-toe with Campbell. They fought to a draw. This might have been a night for the Habs to go Rent-A-Goon. None of the Canadiens was bold enough (or dumb enough) to take on Chara.
The rout was on early in the third when Horton scored in the fifth minute on a pretty table-hockey goal (perfect feed from David Krejci).
Twenty-six seconds later, it was Adam McQuaid making it 5-0 (another assist for Chara) and sending Price to the showers.
That’s when Boston fans showered their Canadien brethren with chants of “USA, USA.’’ The Bruins have scored 15 goals in their last two Garden games against the Habs.
Enter old friend Alex Auld and another Bruins goal, this one by Tomas Kaberle. Then came the unthinkable. Campbell scored on a breakaway when the Bruins were playing two men short. Derek Sanderson must have been smiling. What a beating.
In one final act of Montreal-baiting, Chara was awarded the No. 1 star of the night.
“I was really just focusing on the game on the ice,’’ deadpanned Chara. “We got a good lead and never sat on it. Now we have played two games with good, solid effort.
“We’ve got to stay focused and not get too high or too low. We know this is a possible [playoff] matchup and we just have to focus on our game.’’
“After a while, you get tired of soap opera,’’ said Julien. “The important thing was to come out and play tonight.’’
Four days ago, we were worried about this team, after it won only one of seven games. Now the Bruins have come home and won back-to-back, by an aggregate of 11-1.
Can they start the playoffs tonight? At home? Against Montreal?
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.