Canadiens prepare for tough series against Bruins
Published Sunday, April 27, 2014 6:46PM EDT
It’s the series many Habs fans were waiting for – later this week, the Canadiens will take on the Boston Bruins in the second round of the NHL playoffs.
After sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games, the Habs and their fans have been waiting since Tuesday for the Detroit-Boston series to wrap up, which it did Saturday.
The Red Wings won the first game of the series, but seemingly ran out of steam, dropping the next four and ending their playoff run.
The Bruins’ win set the stage for the next chapter in what has been a legendary Original Six rivalry.
This is the 34th time the Habs and Bruins will meet in the postseason. Historically, the Habs have dominated the Bruins, winning 24 out of the 33 playoff series they’ve played.
And at practice Sunday, the Habs said they already know this series won’t be a cakewalk.
“When I first found out, I thought “It’s gonna be a very tough series,’ said forward Thomas Vanek.
“That’s a good team. They know how to win, obviously. They’ve shown that by winning the Cup a few years back.”
The team credited their game plan for their success against the Lightning, and forward Brendan Gallagher says sticking to that plan will be crucial against the Bruins.
“We can’t afford to take any shifts off. They’re the best team in the National Hockey League for a reason,” he said.
Both teams are boasting impressive depth charts of late, perhaps nowhere more than in goal.
The series will pit Carey Price against Vezina Trophy nominee Tukka Rask.
Price was overlooked when Vezina Trophy nominees were announced, and he said Saturday he doesn’t hold a grudge against Rask, who was nominated, along with Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov.
But Francois Gagnon of RDS says Price may channel any frustration over the snub into his play during the series.
“There’s one of the intangibles that you look forward (to),” he said.
Another one of those intangibles is the emotion that is always on display when the teams meet.
Gagnon says many of the Bruins players have quick tempers, and if the Habs can make them lose their tempers and take control on the power play, they could give Boston a run for their money.
Jimmy Murphy of NHL.com said though the Bruins are a disciplined team, the Habs are capable of breaking that focus.
“I know the playoffs (are) a different time, but at the same time, the Canadiens have a way of getting under the Bruins’ skin and really knocking them off their game,” he said.
Daniel Briere said keeping emotions in check will be vital for both teams, and he expects it will be tougher to rattle the Bruins than it has been in the past.
“They’re not going to be sucked in like we were able to do during the regular season, so we’ll have to keep it tight and play it very smart,” he said.
Gallagher is known for being able to provoke other players, something he says he doesn’t do intentionally.
“I never go out there attempting to get under guys’ skin, I just play hard, and sometimes when your game, stuff’s going to happen,” he said.
During the regular season, the Canadiens won three out of four games against Boston, including both road games.
But defenceman Josh Gorges pointed out that come playoffs time, it’s a completely different game.
“We know we’ve got a great challenge ahead of us. It’s going be tough. It’s going to be a long series, and we’re going to have to prepare for that,” he said.
The dates for the series will be announced once the first round of the playoffs is officially over.