Here are five quick five that remain to be answered as we head toward tomorrow night’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at TD Banknorth Garden.
1. Who’s the Bruins’ sixth defenseman?
Did you watch Steve Montador play. He was pretty bad. It doesn’t make much sense to play him over Shane Hnidy, who really had a solid season from start to finish. And Hnidy has nearly two years of playing experience alongside Mark Stuart, whose game suffered a little playing next to a struggling Montador. I guess head coach Claude Julien was hoping Montador could chip in with some offense, but he can’t when he can’t keep possession of the puck. I’d go back to Hnidy.
2. How’s P.J. Axelsson?
That Patrice Brisbeois slap shot that sent the veteran winger to the locker room writhing in pain Thursday might’ve actually got him in the knee and not the foot as originally thought. We still don’t know because Axelsson has not been made available to the media and, as usual, the Bruins are being as secretive about this injury as the rest. But Axelsson returned to Game 1 after hardly missing any time and he practiced today. So one would have to believe if he’s healthy enough to practice, he’s healthy enough to play — especially in the playoffs.
3. Will we keep seeing more of Georges Laraque?
Much is being made about Laraque playing well alongside Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu in Game 1 but at the same time cancelling out the talent and creativity of his two more-gifted linemates. But head coach Bob Gainey has to keep those three together because his best line was Alex Tanguay, Glen Metropolit and Chris Higgins, and you can’t break those guys up. There’s even a school of thought that says Laraque will be scratched, but what kind of message would that send to sit one of the Habs’ best forwards from Game 1? I’d be more apt to expect the same Montreal lineup up front with Gainey maybe mixing and matching early and often if there aren’t some instant returns from his alignment in Game 2.
4. How long does Carey Price get to turn his series around?
Well, he righted himself in the third period of Game 1, but that first goal he allowed to Phil Kessel had to still keep Price up all night. If Price nonchalants a puck or two in Game 2, Gainey may be forced to make a change if for no other reason than he’ll need to spark his team.
5. How will the Bruins line up for their power plays?
Your guess is as good as mine. I expect Julien to continue to change things on the fly — that’s the benefit of having so much depth and versatility. By switching point men and even swapping out forwards from one unit to the other, Julien is keeping his own players on their toes and making life a little tougher for the Habs penalty killers, who obviously need to adjust away from what they might have studied on video or in the scouting reports.
Game 2 starts 8 p.m. EST. TheBruinsBlog.net will be your home for complete coverage, starting with the morning skate at 10:30 a.m.