NHL Playoffs Preview: Bruins vs. Canadiens

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins tries to get a shot past Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens on March 24, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

One of the most storied rivals in the NHL will write a new chapter in its history as the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will meet in the postseason for an NHL record 33rd time when the two Original 6 foes face off in a best-of-seven opening round series of the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs. The action gets underway Thursday night in Boston when the puck drops for Game 1.

The B's and Habs met 6 times during the regular season with the Canadiens holding a 4-2 edge. In the most recent meeting between the two teams on March 24th, the Bruins skated to a 7-0 victory

Series Schedule

Thursday, April 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, April 16 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
Monday, April 18 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 21 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.
*Saturday, April 23 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.
*Tuesday, April 26 at Montreal, TBD
*Wednesday, April 27 at Boston, TBD

*If needed

At a Glance

Bruinsnewlogosmall_medium
Habs_logo_medium
46-25-11 Regular Season Record 44-30-8
2.98 Goals/Game 2.60
2.30 Goals Against/Game 2.51
32.9 Shots/Game 31.7
32.7 Shots Against/Game 31.0
16.2% Power Play 19.7%
82.6% Penalty Kill 84.4%
51.9% Face Offs 49.0%
13.6 PIMs/Game 13.4
1.40 5 on 5 Ratio 1.01
Milan Lucic (30) Leading Goal Scorer Brian Gionta (29)

Projected Lineups

Boston

On The Ice

Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Nathan Horton
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Mark Recchi
Chris Kelly - Rich Peverley - Michael Ryder
Daniel Paille - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton

Zdeno Chara - Johnny Boychuk
Tomas Kaberle - Dennis Seidenberg
Andrew Ference - Adam McQuaid

Tim Thomas
Tuukka Rask

On The 9th Floor (Scratches)

Tyler Seguin
Shane Hnidy

"Black Aces" (Practice Squad)

Anton Khodobin (G)
Matt Bartkowski(D)
Steven Kampfer (D - Injured)
Michael Hutchinson (G)
Jamie Arniel (F)
Jordan Caron (F)
Zach Hamill (F)
Lane McDermid (F)
Trent Whitfield (F)
Yury Alexandrov (D)

Montreal (based on Boston.com)

On The Ice

Mike Cammalleri - Tomas Plekanec - Andrei Kostitsyn
Mathieu Darche - Scott Gomez - Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Tom Pyatt
Benoit Pouliot - David Desharnais - Ryan White

Roman Hamrlik - James Wisniewski
Hal Gill - P.K. Subban
Jaroslav Spacek - Brent Sopel

Carey Price
Alex Auld

Scratches

Jeff Halpern (Injured)
Alexandre Picard (Injured)
Paul Mara
Yannick Weber

Injury Report

Boston

Out: Steven Kampfer (knee), Marc Savard (concussion)

Montreal

Out: Max Pacioretty (neck), Andrei Markov (knee), Josh Gorges (knee),

Doubtful for Game 1: Jeff Halpern (lower body)

Questionable for Game 1: Alexandre Picard (foot)

In Net

Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins


Regular Season
GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Tim Thomas  57 3364 35 11 112 2.00 1811 1699 .938 9


Career Playoffs GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Tim Thomas 18 1112 10 8 40 2.16 544 504 .926 1

After losing his starting role to Tuukka Rask  last season and having to deal with trade rumors throughout the summer, Thomas regained his position as the B's #1 netminder and turned in a Vezina-worthy season while setting the NHL singe season save percentage record (.938). Thomas has kept the Bruins in games all season and could be called upon to steal a game or two in this series.

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens


Regular Season
GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Carey Price 72 4206 38 28 165 2.35 2147 1982 .923 8


Career Playoffs
GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
Carey Price 19 1002 5 11 53 3.17 500 447 .894

Some consider Carey Price to be a candidate for the Vezina. While I think Tim Thomas is a shoe-in for the award, it is undeniable that Price has had an excellent season for the Habs. The problem is regular season success does not always translate to the playoffs. The young Habs goaltender has struggled in recent playoff appearances and has not won a playoff game since '08. We will see which Carey Price shows up in this series, but if there is one thing we know it is that Price is extremely streaky and can be easily rattled.

Keys to the Series for the B's

Don't Let The Habs Turns This into A Track Meet

The Habs have a significant edge in speed. The Bruins need to neutralize the Habs speedy forwards by playing their puck possession game, avoid turnovers, and playing physical.

Play Bruins Hockey

Let's face it, the Habs are softer than a 90-year-old man watching a Kathy Bates nude scene. They would much rather play a wide open, free-wheeling brand of hockey. The Bruins need to establish a physical presence early in this series. Habs fans, get Neuf-Une-Une on speed dial because this is going to be a physical series.

Don't Take The Bait

While the Habs tend to shy away from honest physical play, they are not against agitating away from the play and after the whistle. The Bruins can't let P.K. Subban and the of rest of the Habs' pests bait them in retaliatory penalties.

Test Carey Price Early and Often

He is fragile. CAAAAAARRRRRREEEEYYYYY CAAAAAARRRRRREEEEYYYY!!!!!

Don't Get Distracted by The 3 Ring Circus

The Bruins need to focus on the game on the ice and not get caught up in all the drama off the ice with the media and fans.

Stay out of The Box

The Bruins are one of the best 5 on 5 teams in the league and one of the areas where Montreal has an advantage is in special teams play. The Bruins will have to be disciplined here to avoid excessive stick work. If that stick goes anywhere near a skate or a leg, you can beat that there will be a Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge sweater sprawled out on the ice and a whistle to follow shortly after.

Notes:

- The Bruins have decided to get out of Montreal for a few days in between Game 3 and 4 to practice at the Olympic training center in Lake Placid.

- The Bruins have called up 10 "Black Aces". Matt Bartkowski, Steven Kampfer, and Anton Khudobin are with the big club, while the other 7 are practicing in Providence with the AHL coaching staff.

- I have to agree with Kevin Paul Dupont. If the Bruins don't advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, Claude Julien's job is on the line. This is the fourth time that the Bruins have reached the playoffs and he has never got them past the second round. If he can't get them there this year, he is out. Anything less than the conference finals is a disappointment this year. Stop wasting our time with first and second round exits.

- Public Skate open threads will be held as usual on Stanley Cup of Chowder. Like the regular season, we will start a half hour before puck drop.

- Habs Eyes On The Prize has you covered for all this Habs hockey. Hockey Inside/Out is also a great resource for a peak behind enemy lines.

Staff Predictions

Evan (Stanley Cup of Chowder): Bruins in 7

I think this one goes the distance with the Bruins advancing with a win in Game 7 on home ice. Home ice is going play a huge role in this series and I would not be surprised if the home team wins each game. The Bruins have struggled lately at Bell Centre and I don't think the Habs enjoy stepping on the ice at TD Garden much either. When you factor in all the recent drama between the B's-Habs, I think this has all the makings of a long, hard fought, entertaining series. I just hope it doesn't wear this team out too early.

Phil (Phunwin): Bruins in 5

I think Boston wins this series without a ton of trouble.  Talk all you want about style of play; Boston is a much better team, and the better team usually comes out ahead.  They outscored opponents by 51 goals, by far the best in the East and much better than Montreal's meager +7 differential.  The biggest reason, maybe the only reason, they weren't the East's #1 seed is regular season overtime.  The Bruins stunk in the shootout and at 4 on 4 play, and as frustrating as that was to watch, neither of those are a factor in the postseason.  Their penalty kill, a sore point much of the year, played like it was capable of after the Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley pickups (84.7%).  This is crucial in this series, because Montreal's best hope is baiting the Bruins into a bunch of dumb penalties and killing them on the power play.  They cannot match the Bruins five on five.  As for their second best hope, Carey Price could be gassed after dragging that team to the postseason.  Take him away, and they're hanging around Ottawa's neighborhood.  I say Boston wins in five, with Price stealing one game for Les Glorieux. 

Tim, Stanley Cup of Chowder's Emergency Call-up/Black Ace (timmorrison23): Bruins in 5

Let me start off by saying the prospect of a 7 game emotionally draining series with the Canadiens is a double edge sword for me.  On one hand it would be awesome entertainment to watch, but I don't like what it does for the chances of a lengthy run for the Bruins.  I think that this series will be over in 5 games with the Bruins advancing.  I think the Canadiens are too undersized compared to the Bruins forwards and defenseman, and that the Canadiens best defenseman will be watching from the press box due to injuries. I think the Bruins eventually start to impose their will physically and win this series 4-1.

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