FTHN Playoff Preview: Bruins Vs. Canadiens
For the 34th time in NHL history, The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It is one of the best rivalries in sports and anytime these two Original-6 franchises meet it usually ends up being a pretty eventful affair. Add that history to the fact that both these divisional rivals really just do not like each other and you have yourself quite the second round matchup.
BOS: GF (258) – GA (171) +80
MON: GF (209) – GA (201) +3
BOS: PP 21.7% – PK 84.8%
MON: PP 17.2% – PK 85.1%
Both teams are backstopped by elite NHL goaltenders as Tuukka Rask and Carey Price are two of the best netminders in the game today.
Rask is a finalist for the Vezina Award after an amazing regular season and he’s carried that spectacular play into the playoffs where he’s been nearly unbeatable for the Bruins (.961 save % in the postseason). I know his numbers against Montreal aren’t the best but that can’t last forever and I have a feeling he’s going to have a great series.
At the other end of the ice will be Price who probably could’ve also been nominated for the Vezina after having a pretty solid season himself. His numbers have risen slightly in the playoffs and he’ll need to be a tad sharper if the Canadiens are to have any hope against the Bruins.
VERY, VERY SLIGHT EDGE: BRUINS
At times in the regular season the Canadiens had struggled to score and get contributions from their bottom-6 forwards, but that all changed in their first round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning when Rene Bourque and company went off. If they wish to get past Rask and Boston, they’ll once again need to showcase that depth as well as get some help for their big name players like Thomas Vanek and Max Pacioretty.
The Bruins have had no problems scoring whether it be in the regular season or postseason. They’ve been rolling four lines all year and getting contributions from everyone regardless of who is in the lineup. Their offensive depth is one of the reasons the Bruins are one of the better teams in the league and they’ll need everything they have to beat Price and the Canadiens.
This might be where the Bruins have their biggest edge as they boast one of the better and younger defensive corps in the NHL thats anchored by perennial Norris Trophy Finalist Zdeno Chara. Also, with the emergence of Dougie Hamilton in these playoffs, the Bruins have been able to soften the blow of not having Dennis Seidenberg around. Their ability to play defense and get pucks out of their own end quick was vital to the Bruins first round success versus the Detroit Red Wings and they’ll be relied upon heavily to more of the same against Montreal.
The Canandiens are led by Andrei Markov and PK Subban on the back end, a tandem thats never overly impressed me but it seems to work so what do I know? If you ask me the blueline is the Habs only real weak spot right now and if the Bruins can exploit them this might not be a very long series.
BIG EDGE: BRUINS
The Bruins dominated the special teams battle vs Detroit and Montreal will need to slow the Bruins PP down if they wish to avoid the same fate as Detroit. That shouldn’t be a problem considering Montreal is one of the few teams in the league better at killing penalties than the Bruins. I don’t see much of an advantage here for either team but if Montreal can win this battle then I like their chances a whole lot more.
Like their first round series vs Detroit, I just think the Bruins are too deep, too good and too heavy for the Canadiens. I know history shows that these games are always a toss up and the Habs have had the Bruins number recently, but I don’t think thats enough to go against Boston. They won the Presidents’ Trophy for a reason and after dominating the Red Wings, they’ll look to do the same vs Montreal. If they play their game and don’t get caught up trying to physically hurt the Habs, then that shouldn’t be that much of a problem.
BRUINS IN 6 GAMES
Game 1 is Thursday night in Boston, the game will be televised nationally on the NBC Sports Network with coverage starting at 6:30PM EST followed by a 7:30PM EST puck drop.