Playoff Number 33 – Boston Montreal

You just knew this was going to happen. It’s been this way since midseason. The Boston Bruins in the 3rd seed slot and the Montreal Canadiens securely ensconced in the 6th seed. Collision course has been made, no pun intended.
The 33rd time these two venerable rivals will see each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The third time in the last four seasons. This time seems to have more animosity than previous because of recent history. Nevertheless, the only Original Six playoff matchup to hit this years playoffs will again have fans of both cities on the edge of their seats with scowls.
Diehard actually would have preferred to have the New York Rangers move up to that 6th spot, however they couldn’t keep winning to make that happen and alas, they were able to sneak in at number at as the Carolina Hurricanes ran out of gas in their season finale against Tampa Bay.
Boston is 2-3-1 against the Habs this year in six matches with the five game being the game that has set off the fireworks for things to come. In case you have forgotten, Zdeno Chara finished his check of Max Pacioretty into the stanchion that separates the team benchs in the Bell Centre. A firestorm was then launched as Fans of the Canadiens thought it was an intent to injure and Boston fans thought otherwise and there was no way anyone was going to change those opinions. The NHL thought it was a “hockey play” and ruled accordingly. No matter what, it still comes back to the Bruins and Canadiens in a seven-game series to open the 2010-2011 playoffs Thursday at the TD Garden.
For the Bruins, it really is plain and simple. Stay out of the penalty box. This cannot be stressed enough. The Canadiens power play was ranked eighth in the league for the season and their speed can minimize the Boston penalty kill which was ranked 16th for the year. On the points, the Habs have two defencemen that can bring it and bring it hard. James Wiesnewski and P.K. Subban have rockets at the point and the Montreal forwards know how to set them up to blast from the blue line and closer.
The Boston power play has no mystery to any NHL club. There seems to be not much to it. They try to set up shots from the point, which for most of the year the shots were blocked and the puck was cleared. There needs to be some creativity added and the forwards need to control the puck and get it into the slot and get quality shots from 20 feet or closer. But really, I don’t see that changing now so we’ll see what happens.
Tim Thomas will certainly have to be at his best. It has been chronicled how he has not been good most times against Montreal. Now is the time to turn that around. He has shown he is the Bruins goalie that will be in net night after night and without that consistency, Boston will be in trouble.
All season, the “system” that Claude Julien employs has kept the Bruins in third place and that system shouldn‘t change. It will be defense first move the puck out of their zone and create good offensive opportunities. Everyone knows and must play their role for Boston to have success against a highly skilled and fast Canadien team!
Three days to go before the border war begins again and the teams and their fans really don’t like each other so as usual, it will make for an interesting series!


About Ric Duarte

Just your average loyal Bruins Fan with things to say about the team!
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