Bruins-Canadiens Mega-Preview: a series to be remembered
Photo via bruinsdaily.com
Bruins-Canadiens. A clash of two of hockey's oldest rivals. The players dream of it. The fans dream of it. The sportswriters dream of it. As sports fans, and hockey fans in particular, these are the moments that we live for. Two of the most established dynasties in all of sports, each with their own rich and unique history, battling through a best-of-seven series to see who earns the right to continue their trek towards Lord Stanley's Cup. Let's get to it.
As is to be expected with these two teams, this series isn't going to be a walk in the park for either side. The President's Trophy winning Bruins will be matched up against a young, fast, and very talented Montreal team. Each team will try to force their opponent into a style of hockey that may be out of their comfort zone, in order to work around their monster game plans. In what appears to be another classic playoff series approaching, here's what could make all of the difference:
Discipline It's no secret to anyone: The Bruins and The Habs hate each-other. It's been like that for a long time. When these two teams come together, especially in an extended playoff series, things can get ugly. In a series like this, playing smart, disciplined hockey could make all of the difference.
photo via nhl.si.com
The Bruins need to avoid getting caught up in the Canadiens' antics. Boston's big-time players, including Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic need to avoid getting worked up over guys like P.K. Subban, who's known for his antics, especially when looking across the ice at a Spoked B. The Bruins need to focus all of that energy on the score, not the antics. The Bruins will be fine with playing a "Big Bad" physical series, but will need to stay disciplined in doing so.
Meanwhile, you can bet that the Canadiens will try to wrap Boston in a choke-hold of penalties.The Canadiens have struggled on the powerplay recently, but if they can find their groove once again, the Montreal powerplay unit can be very deadly.
Goaltending Goaltending will also be a huge factor in the upcoming series. While Tuukka Rask is in the midst of a legendary start to the playoffs, he's struggled against Montreal in his career (3-10-3 with a 2.63 goals against average, .908 save percentage). In the playoffs however, Rask has been outstanding. He didn't give up more than one even-strength goal in a single game all series against Detroit, while posting a 1.02 GAA and .961 save percentage. If the Bruins want to move on to the Eastern Conference Finals, Rask will need to continue to play well.
photo via bruins.nhl.com
Meanwhile, Montreal's Carey Price will look to stand up against a dangerous Bruins offense. In his career, Price has posted a 17-8-3 record with a 2.50 GAA and a .919 save percentage against the Bruins. However, his numbers this postseason don't match up with those of Tuukka Rask. Price has recorded a .904 save percentage, with a 2.33 goals against average in Montreal's four game sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning. In doing so, Price gave up seven even-strength goals, compared to Rask's 4.
Young Talent With the injuries that have piled up along the Bruins blue-line, some young defensemen have had to step up their game to help carry the Bruins along. These youngsters include Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton. Both players had a good start to the playoffs; Krug with a goal and four assists for a plus 2 in the series, and Hamilton with a goal and three assists, and some excellent play of late.
Across the ice, Montreal thrives on their young talent. Their young guns, including Brendan Gallagher, and Rene Bourque. Their young, talented players fit very well with their fast-paced style of play.
photo via pinterest.com
Penalties will be taken. It's Bruins-Habs... things are going to get chippy. Up to this point, the Bruins special teams have been outstanding in the postseason. The recently terrible Bruins powerplay (recently being in the past few years) has become a huge threat of late, scoring on 6 of 16 powerplay chances in the quaterfinals against Detroit. Meanwhile, the powerful Red Wings offense mustered up a mere two powerplay goals against the Bruins. Boston, as is customary, will counter Montreal's powerplay with a very strong penalty-kill, especially with Daniel Paille returning.
Meanwhile, the powerplay that was once so strong for Montreal has seen some serious problems recently, finishing the season with a horrible 0 for23 stint, while scoring just 2 powerplay goals on 13 opportunities in the first round. The Montreal penalty-kill on the other hand, ranked at fourth in the league this season, allowed 2 goals on seven chances in the first-round.
The Rest of the Stuff Obviously, this list could go on for ages. The Bruins and the Canadiens are two powerful teams who are a great match for eachother. You could highlight several other key points for the series, including five on five play, the coaching staff, embellishment, etc, but we tried to focus on some unique points. Plus, we need to get this posted by the time the series starts, so let's get this show on the road- Bruins-Canadiens, two old-time hockey rivalries in a best-of-seven series.