NHL Playoffs 1st Round Series Preview: Bruins vs. Canadiens

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens are set to meet in a playoff series for the 32nd time in the teams' history. As most Habs fans will remind you, Montreal has dominated Boston in the playoffs, winning 24 of the 31 playoff series between the teams. This year feels different though. The B's have had the Habs' number all season long, finishing the regular season series with a record of 5-0-1 against Montreal. In a complete reversal of fortune from last season, the Bruins will be the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, while the Canadiens limped into the post season as an 8 seed. A lot of folks around The Hub are predicting a cake walk in the first round, but I do not think that will be the case. Anytime the B's and Habs meet in the playoffs, you can throw out the records. This will be a hard fought series and the Habs will put up a good fight but in the end the Bruins will win a playoff series for the first time in 10 years.

 

Keys to Victory for the Bruins

Test Carey Price
Price has been inconsistent this season. The Bruins need to throw a lot of shots at him early in this series and try to rattle his confidence.

Bring your Hard Hat
The Bruins need to stick with the physical brand of hockey that got them this far. The Habs would much rather play a wide open, free skating style of hockey. If this series goes long (which I think it will), I think the Bruins will physically wear the Habs down.

Keep your Composure
The Bruins can not afford to take dumb retaliation penalties like they did the last time they played Montreal. Montreal can not match the Bruins 5 on 5, don't give the Habs extra power play opportunities.

Win the first 2 games in Boston
The Bell Centre in April is not an easy place to play. If the B's can take the first 2 games in Boston and get the Habs back on their heels heading to Montreal, they will be in great shape.

 

Keys to Victory for the Canadiens

Find a Time Machine
Habs fans love to talk about the past. Patrick Roy isn't walking through that door fans. Rocket Richard is not walking through that door and Guy Lafleur is not walking through that door.

Make Thomas Work
Tim Thomas has never won a playoff series. When he is on his game, he is one of the best puckstoppers in the league, but he can be rattled.

Take Advantage of Power Play Opportunities
The Canadiens had a 26% success rate on the power play against the Bruins this season (6 for 23), including going 3 for 5 on the power play in their last game against the Bruins.

Win One of the First 2 Games in Boston
If the Bruins jump out to a 2 game lead, this series is over.

 

Leading Goal Scorers

Bruins


G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Phil Kessel 36 24 60 23 16

Canadiens
G A P +/- PIM
2008 - Alex Kovalev 26 39 65 -5 74


Goaltending

Bruins


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Tim Thomas 54 3259 36 11 7 4 114 2.10 1694 1580 .933 5


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Manny Fernandez 28 1644 16 8 3 1 71 2.59 791 720 .910 1

Canadiens


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Carey Price 52 3036 23 16 10 4 143 2.83 1513 1370 .905 1


GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Jaroslav Halak 34 1931 18 14 1 0 92 2.86 1077 985 .915 1


'08-'09 Season Series

Bruins record vs. Montreal: 5-0-1
10/15 @ MON 4-3 SO L
11/13 vs. MON 6-1 W
11/22 @ MON 3-2 SO W
1/13 vs. MON 3-1 W
2/1 @ MON 3-1 W
4/9 vs. MON 5-4 OT W

 

Questions

- Can the B's finally beat the Habs in the post season?

- Contenders or Pretenders: Have the Bruins over-achieved in the regular season?

- Can Tim Thomas prove the nay sayers wrong once again and win a playoff series?

- Will Michael Ryder make the Habs pay?

- How will the B's younger players handle the pressure of the playoffs?

- Will Jack Edwards' head explode on the air during this series?

 

Injury Report

Bruins
LW Marco Sturm: Out for Season (knee)
D Andrew Ference: Questionable (undisclosed injury)

Besides Sturm and Ference, the Bruins appear to be back to full strength. Everyone else participated in practiice this morning including Patrice Bergeron, who had missed the last 2 games with a foot injury.


Montreal Canadiens Injuries

Questionable

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Sergei Kostitsyn other-excused 04/13/2009

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Robert Lang achilles-tendon 02/02/2009
Francis Bouillon groin 02/20/2009
Andrei Markov Knee 04/07/2009


Series Schedule

Thursday, April 16       7 p.m.        Montreal at Boston      NESN, CBC, RDS
Saturday, April 18        8 p.m.        Montreal at Boston      NESN, VERSUS, CBC, RDS
Monday, April 20            7 p.m.        Boston at Montreal        NESN, CBC, RDS
Wednesday, April 22    7 p.m.        Boston at Montreal        NESN, CBC, RDS
*Saturday, April 25       7 p.m.       Montreal at Boston       NESN, CBC, RDS
*Monday, April 27           TBD          Boston at Montreal        NESN, CBC, RDS
*Wednesday, April 29  TBD          Montreal at Boston       NESN, CBC, RDS

*If necessary

 

Perspectives from North of the Border

Habs Eyes on the Prize (SBN)

Habs Inside/Out

Four Habs Fans

 

Matchup Breakdown

Edge BOSTON MONTREAL Edge
Tim Thomas Goaltending Carey Price
23.9% Power Play 19.6%
82.4% Penalty Kill 82.2%
1.42 5 on 5 Ratio 0.96
51% Faceoffs 50.9%
12.5 PIMs/game 15
30.3 Shots/game 30
2.32 GAA 2.93
3.29 Goals/game 2.95

 

Prediction: Bruins in 7 games

 

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