The Montreal Canadiens needed to have a better effort in Game 3 and that is exactly what happened. They need to keep it going in order to keep home-ice advantage and take a hold on the series when they go back to Boston.
You have to think that this game is really important for Montreal to get a hold on the series and the potential swing is huge. Either Montreal will be up 3-1 going to Boston, or be tied 2-2 for a best of three with two of the games in Boston.
The smoke screens continued on Thursday at the morning skates for both teams. Nathan Beaulieu made an appearance at practice which was notable only because he was the only “Black Ace” at practice. Black Aces are the call ups from the American Hockey League who are with the team but usually skate on their own.
On the Boston side, Claude Julien switched up his lines and then teased that it was to make the media have something to write about. None of the lines were how they have been previously.
Earlier in the day they called up Matt Fraser and sent Justin Florek back to Providence in the American Hockey League. Fraser brings more speed to Boston’s bottom six. Carl Soderberg did not practice although Julien says he will be in the lineup tonight.
Could Julien have been messing with the media – and the Canadiens? Sure it’s possible. But I’m sure we will see a change or two that may be similar to what we saw in practice.
Either way, it doesn’t really make much of a difference. Therrien has last change and can adjust to any different combinations Boston puts on the ice easily.
Julien doesn’t really have to change anything with the forwards as they have been pretty good. It is the defence that has led to breakdowns and chances against.
For the Canadiens to be successful the biggest key will be keeping up the balanced offensive pressure that they started in Game 3. The top three lines all had scoring chances and that will need to continue. Dominance of the scoreboard in the first 40 minutes can also go a long way.
The Canadiens seem to be coming together as a team and responded well on Tuesday. Tonight, they need to channel the energy the crowd provided and put it towards another disciplined game.
I said Game 3 was the Canadiens most important game of the season. Now, that game becomes Game 4. A loss doesn’t end their season, or even have them on the ropes but the swing is so great that they need to come out and play a good game.