We can look back at the regular season and see the Montreal Canadiens took three of four from the Boston Bruins.
We did the same thing with the Bruins’ first round match up-the Detroit Red Wings who went 3-1 versus the Bruins in the regular season. The B’s handled Mike Babcock’s team quite handedly sending them home in five games.
Taking stock in results in the regular season is a far cry. The postseason is a different animal.
The big question for the Black and Gold was could they slow down Red Wings’ speedsters such as Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Tartar. Well, Tuukka Rask and the B’s only allowed six goals in those five games so, I’d say so.
The B’s are now turning their attention to their most hated rival, who also bring a fast-paced game.
With the likes of Bruins killer Thomas Vanek, Max Pacioretty, Brian Gionta and Brendan Gallagher, the Habs pose some threats. Although their offensive weapons may be fast, they are also small leaving it to the B’s to play their “heavy” game hoping the Habs don’t embellish.
The last time these two teams met in the playoffs it was the first round in 2011 where Nathan Horton sent TD Garden into a frenzy with his overtime goal in Game 7 to send the Bruins on to the next series. Many things have changed since then: players, coaches and style of play.
General Manager Peter Chiarelli knows the Canadiens advanced to the second round this season for a reason and have given the B’s fits over the years.
“It’s another difficult one,” Chiarelli told the media at his press conference at TD Garden. “They’re a team that has given us trouble historically.”
Chiarelli also spoke about the team having a chip on its shoulder from outsiders thinking they cannot match up against speed in the playoffs.
“Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve got the size advantage and we have some speed,” Chiarelli said.
The key to slowing down the Canadiens is simple like it was with the Red Wings – do not give them time and space.
“It’s about closing gaps more quickly,” Chiarelli said. “It’s about establishing a forecheck and leaning on guys. It’s about our special teams-both PK and PP have been outstanding. We maintain that and we’re going to have success.”
The comparisons between the Red Wings and Habs are made by many. Bruins’ fourth-line enforcer Shawn Thornton was quick to nix that comparison as the Habs have their share of speedy guys and grinders.
“They’ve got some tough guys over there,” Thornton said after the B’s Game 5 win over the Red Wings. “I’m not sure, I haven’t been watching their games, so I don’t know who’s in and out of the line up, but I know they do have some gritty guys over there.
“It’s two different series to be completely honest. Maybe people talk about the speed and the skill. There might be a similarity there, but I still think they’re two different series.”
Rask also described the two aspects of Montreal’s game that stands out mostly agreeing with his teammates.
“They have speed, talent offensively,” Rask said. “I don’t know. I think those are the biggest things.”
Captain Zdeno Chara tries to block out the perception of other’s in relation to his team’s ability to deal with speed of other teams. Why? Because Chara knows the B’s can play with anyone.
“I don’t think we are a slow team,” Chara said. “Obviously, we are built a certain way and we want to thrive on the way we’re built and excel in areas that we are good at, but I don’t think we are necessarily a slow team. A lot of people- a lot of times, you hear that we’re going to play this and that team and it’s not just in the playoffs-sometimes during the regular season, too. But I think we are able to skate and make quick transitions as well as any other team. I’m not tired of it-I know what we can do and I believe that we can play with anybody.”
The B’s and Habs have a lot of history together playing many times during the regular season and over the years. There are no secrets anymore. The B’s know what they are in for and the Habs know what they are in for. It is going to be a fast-paced, heavy hitting series. Hopefully with no embellishments from suspect number one: P.K. Subban.
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