Mario Lemieux watched ‘boring’ Canadiens remind his Penguins wins in NHL don’t come easy
- What Lemieux witnessed at PPG Paints Arena could have just as well happened at Civic Arena, Bell Centre or the Montreal Forum.
“That’s the way they play: boring hockey,” Lemieux said during a pause in conversation with Crosby and Pierre Larouche, the Penguins stars who respectively followed and preceded his playing days in Pittsburgh.
“They always have.”
- Those weren’t sour grapes being offered by Lemieux.
- He almost sounded impressed the Canadiens, the historic NHL team from his hometown of Montreal, had borrowed so heavily from their traditional blueprint to take down the Penguins, the salary cap era’s standard-bearing team from his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh.
- Suck ’em in, then suck the life out of ’em.
- It’s the Canadiens’ way when they’re at their best, and they were indeed that in the second period of what became a 4-1 win over the Penguins on Tuesday night.
“When you see the game going that way, you just need to simplify,” defenseman Kris Letang said of the second period against the Canadiens, who were +4 in shot attempts during their 3-0 scoring run.
“Maybe it’s going to be a boring game, but I think we have to stick with it. Maybe we tried to do a little too much and we got caught in some areas.”
- Sure, some bad bounces went against the Penguins (particularly Letang, who played much of the game on the left side because of Dumoulin’s absence.)
- Still, a lot of the Canadiens’ best opportunities appeared to be the result of forced passes or lost battles by the Penguins.
- The eras of Larouche, Lemieux and Crosby featured Penguins teams that were guilty of trying to do too much or relying too much on skill, but this group has mostly made a habit of winning races to loose pucks and making smart decisions once in possession of them.
- Had more of them grown up watching the Canadiens’ glorious 1970s teams, as did Lemieux, perhaps these Penguins would have known what awaited them on at PPG Paints Arena.
- Lemieux called it “boring hockey.”
- And as Admiral Ackbar said in some movie, “It’s a trap.”
Sources & Credits: Rob Rossi, The Athletic
NHL Highlights | Canadiens vs. Penguins – Dec. 10, 2019