BOSTON - First off, I've got to say sorry for neglecting the blog of late, but I've been pretty overrun with my responsibilities in Beantown.
Anyhow, here's what I did today for CP and cbc.ca, but I wanted to go a little more in depth on the big change Bob Gainey pulled in Game 1.
He really did have a straight face when he said this week that there was nothing he could really do that would surprise the Bruins, but I'm wondering if that surprise had any effect whatsoever.
Georges Laraque playing with two of the team's most talented offensive players had to be something neither Claude Julien nor his players expected, but it didn't exactly prevent them from winning the game, though it may have been a bit tougher than anticipated.
Personally, when I saw that Laraque was on that line, I laughed and thought about Laraque telling me about "the plan" he and Gainey had regarding his usage in the series, one that was hatched up prior to the April 9 game in Boston that the Habs lost 5-4 in OT. If that was the plan, I thought to myself, there had better be something else in that bag of tricks.
But I have to admit, as the game went along "the plan" began to look more and more effective, especially when it came to Zdeno Chara's frame of mind. On more than one occasion, Chara had to step in and handle Laraque after the whistle.
One time, I saw Laraque chirping at him as the two skated up ice during a stoppage in play. Chara first turned to answer him, then stopped himself and looked away, like a jilted lover who doesn't want to admit she loves the man who just cheated on her.
If Laraque can continue to get Chara thinking about him, and not Alex Kovalev, then his presence is a good thing, as it is when Chara is forced to move him from in front of the net or try to push him off the puck behind the net.
I think we can all agree that Georges Laraque is not going to win or lose this series for the Canadiens, but the more he contributes in a positive way, the better Montreal's chances appear to be.