History. Tradition. Passion. Excitement. Those are just a few words to describe the Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens rivalry, and the two teams will face off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 34th time in another chapter of the illustrious showdown.
Like their first round matchup, the President Trophy winning Bruins enter their series with the Habs as the favorite. But this may very well be the B’s toughest road block in their road to the Stanley Cup.
Historically, the Habs have the Bruins numbers and they have a good reason to be confident heading into the series. They’ve won three of four against the Black and Gold in the 2013-14 season and can get the B’s off guard with their speed and agility.
Still the Black and Gold have the size advantage and can roll all four lines. That is a good formula for success and they’ll need just that to keep the ball rolling.
Here’s a look back at the Bruins-Habs regular season matchups during the 2013-14 campaign.
December 5, 2013: Habs 2-Bruins 1
The Bruins came out with a strong start in the first meeting of the season. They had a 10-3 shots on goal advantage and took a 1-0 lead late in the first on Gregory Campbell’s second of the season.
But then the Habs took over in the second period as their speed gave the B’s fits. They had an 18-7 shots advantage and got tallies from Tomas Plekanec and Max Pacioretty.
Simply put, the hot start went to waste as the Habs surpassed the Black and Gold in the Atlantic Division standings. That would not last long, however, as the Bruins regained first place in the division for good a couple days later.
January 30, 2014: Habs 4-Bruins 1
The Bruins took the second period off in their first meeting. A month later when the two teams met for the second time in the regular season, the B’s took the entire game off.
From top to bottom, the Bruins simply showed a poor effort. Tuukka Rask was pulled at 11:54 of the second period after Brian Gionta’s tip-in made it 3-1 Canadiens. There was no silver-lining in this one was the B’s made Peter Budaj’s night easy, who still made 34 saves in the victory.
March 12, 2014: Bruins 4-Habs 1
The Habs were in midst of their biggest slump of the year. The Bruins, meanwhile, were looking to snap a five-game losing streak against their arch-rivals.
Behind three-goal second period (with tallies from Patrice Bergeron, Carl Soderberg and Milan Lucic) and some stellar goaltending from Tuukka Rask (36 saves), the Bruins snapped that skid in a 4-1 victory for their sixth win in a row.
March 24, 2014: Habs 2-Bruins 1 (shootout)
Their win streak had to end at some point, but its a little bitter when that win streak is ended by A) a shootout and B) your No. 1 enemy.
Still, the Black and Gold had a reason to feel pretty good about themselves despite falling 2-1 in the shootout. But for most of the contest, they were caught chasing the Habs all over the rink and that temptation led them to seven trips to the penalty box.
Bergeron tied the game at 1-1 on a power play goal to give the B’s the one point. Alexi Emelin, who is getting quite the reputation in Boston as another Habs villain, scored a power play goal, and Alex Galchenyuk scored the shootout winner.
The Bruins were 6-for-16 against the Red Wings on the power play. It may be a little more difficult to get the Habs into penalty trouble, but if they do, that’s an area they can take advantage of. Montreal killed only 71.4 percent of its penalties in round one against the Lightning.
More importantly, the Bruins need to focus on using their physical prowess to wear down the smaller, speedier Habs. It worked in the first round and there’s no reason why it can’t work again.