Call of the Wilde: Bourque, Eller rising to the occasion
By Brian Wilde, CTV Montreal
Published Monday, April 21, 2014 7:08AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 22, 2014 9:17AM EDT
Bourque. I probably can't say I have seen a player transform this much from the regular season to the playoffs. He's a completely different player. He's the big body taking it hard to the net that the Habs traded for. He's the guy from Calgary who got 27 twice. That guy was an excellent player. He's back. Let's see if he stays.
Eller. Also a better player for the Habs in the playoffs. It is a new start sometimes. A chance for redemption. Eller wins pucks. He also shot one off the joint of the crossbar and the post to put the game away if not for an unlucky inch.
Desharnais. On one shift in the second, Hedman, Tampa's best defender, was beaten by Desharnais one-on-one 3 times and eventually Hedman took a penalty on the shift. Last year against Ottawa, Desharnais couldn't win a puck battle. This year he is winning them regularly.
Subban's best game in a while. His decision-making was superb. He read danger better than he has been and reacted to it by moving to safety in a hurry. After that, on the second goal it was quintessential Subban. He finished with more than 28 minutes and that wasn't because he set up a beauty. It was because he was steady. PK combined the best that he is in game 3 with what he doesn't always do, but this game did perfectly. He earned the confidence of the coach who had him out for the final shift to preserve a lead. His best game since Dallas, Texas before the Olympics. He showed the Norris form that had been missing.
Gallagher was the annoying spark plug of last year's playoffs. Hard to handle and always digging. Huge goal top shelf. A total pain in the ass on Plekanec's goal as well. You know Gallagher is playing well when everyone else can't stand him.
Plekanec Gionta Pacioretty Subban Markov on the ice in the final seconds. Those are your men of confidence for the head coach.
Prust is injured in the ribs. He is giving it his all but the injury is hurting I believe. He took a shot on a 2 on 1 that had little on it. He needs to play less and I trust this condition can be handled in the off season.
The power play. You know why. Not enough movement on it - of puck and men.
Very smart from the head coach of Tampa who could clearly see that he could not compete playing a fast-paced skating type of hockey. He was completely overmatched as the Habs came in waves in the first. So the hitting began and the Lightning slowly found their way. They also found some emotion. They say when a player is in a slump to just hit somebody - get yourself in the game at least. Here he did it for the entire team. Bourque was taken on by Stamkos and Callahan on the same shift. The Lightning became engaged and they found what the Habs don't like that much. You take penalties this way though. However, does that matter when the power play struggles this much? Tampa's best game. It looked like the playoffs. The coach finally adjusted.
The ref blew the call on the go-ahead goal for the Lightning. Cooper has every right to be angry. Killorn impeded Price on the first contact and we could have had a whistle on the play there, but on the second Price did not have his movement impeded and the goal should have counted in my mind, though that is not the popular opinion in one city - mine.
Steven Stamkos took a knee to the head and after he got back up he fell back down. Whether the Lightning announce it or not is a concussion. They didn't treat this player as a person but a commodity. Now I presume that Stamkos argued to go back out there. He should not have been allowed back onto the ice. The trainer has to win that battle. The Lightning have a history of handling this poorly. Ben Bishop, by Jon Cooper's own account, got "his bell rung" on a Thursday in Ottawa in February and played in Montreal on a Saturday. 36 hours is not sufficient time to recover from a concussion and surely neither is 30 minutes. I am bothered by this but I still am almost a lone and a small voice in a vast hockey world, so nothing will change. I don't have the power to be heard on this issue and that saddens me because a player shouldn't argue to get back out there and win the argument. The only time I wish I was someone like Bob McKenzie is when I see no one is representing Backes or Stamkos or a medical trainer that no one listens to. It is frustrating not having a voice and it is why on Twitter I try to give you a voice on what you care about - because I feel your need to be heard like I wish I could be. As they say... Le sigh.