Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
It is what many people expected when the playoffs started. The Montreal Canadiens will face off against the Boston Bruins in the second round of the National Hockey League playoffs. The match up became official this afternoon when the Bruins defeated the Detroit Red Wings in the fifth game of their series.
Whenever the Canadiens and Bruins face off in the playoffs, you need to expect the unexpected. Historically, the Canadiens have the advantage in playoff match ups but recently the Bruins have the advantage winning the last two series between the two teams.
In 2011, their last match up, the Bruins came in as huge favourites but the Canadiens pushed them to the limit – overtime of Game 7 – as the Bruins went on to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins are largely a similar team but their biggest defence is in their back end and in net.
Tuukka Rask has struggled against the Montreal Canadiens in his career. He has only won three of 15 games against the Canadiens in his career. He has never won a game against the Canadiens where he allowed more than one goal. You can say that the goaltender that plays the best will win the series.
What is interesting is that Michel Therrien has “hidden” Price from the Bruins this season. Price started only one game of the four against their division rival with Peter Budaj taking the other three starts. The one start was a good one, though. The Canadiens won 2-1 and Price made 32 saves back on December 5.
The goaltenders are not the only factor in this series. The Canadiens puck possession game was very good against Tampa Bay and will put up a pretty good fight against the Bruins. The depth of their forward lines will be a big factor.
The Canadiens will need the Lars Eller and Daniel Briere lines to play well as you can imagine that Max Pacioretty, David Desharnais and Thomas Vanek will be seeing a lot of Patrice Bergeron. They will also need Alexei Emelin to play like he did in the last matchup between the two teams.
The possible addition of Travis Moen and Alex Galchenyuk could also help the Canadiens. It will make the fourth line – which was already really good – even better or at least give the ability to switch around players.
The Canadiens won three of four games against Boston today and always seem to bother the Bruins the way no other team can. If they can do that in this series, they have a chance. If they play well, they very well may win. Boston goes into the series as a favourite and that’s just where Montreal wants them to be.