Game 1 : Habs @ Bruins
So it's that time of year again. The time where all types of fans come out and show their colors. On my drive into work this morning, I saw tons and tons of car flags. Seems everyone has already caught Playoff Fever. Let's take a look at the match up.
We don't need to go into too many details, and explain what happened all season between these two teams. We all know. Long story short, The Canadiens beat them four times in a row, frustrated the hell out of a bigger, badder team, lost a key element to their success, and lost the final two meetings between the two clubs. Now the Habs face them in the first round of this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. The stage is set. Question is, what's going to happen? Who's going to take this? Boston has the momentum, but the Habs have the stats. The Bruins have great goaltending, but Montreal has had Thomas' number all year. Which Carey Price is going to show up? The Carey Price that shut the door game after game, or the Carey Price that let in easy goals in both of the last two games these teams met in Boston?
For the first time this season I will forget how much I like the Bruins. I'm prepared to hate them for the next two weeks. With that out of the way, I honestly think that the Habs have a good chance to take this series. If the Habs manage to pick up a win in either of the first two games, I think they will walk away with the series. They are being underestimated and I couldn't be happier about it. With the injuries they've suffered though and the lack of production they've gotten from their top six, it puts them in an even more underdog position than they were last year.
The team the Habs are facing have perhaps less offensive skill than the Washington Capitals of 2009-10, but the Boston Bruins are still a team that has little-to-no holes in their team dynamic. They have enough offense to score at least a couple goals a game, and more than enough defense to have close-to-no goals scored against. They have three solid lines, with great fourth line to support. They have triple threat players in Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, and Zdeno Chara. They have veterans, they have rookies, they have loud mouthed players, a coach with a chip on his shoulder, and fans that are equal to those of our own. Let's hope they lack one thing. Focus. I think that will be the deciding factor of this series.
Montreal's chances in this year's post season lie in the hands of three men that were brought to this team only two seasons ago. Mike Cammalleri, Scott Gomez, and Brian Gionta have to be our best players. If Cammalleri can repeat what he did last year for us and Gomez can wake up and produce, the Habs have more than a slim chance to go deep once again. Defensively - even with injuries - the Canadiens are consistent. Their special teams are better than those of the Bruins, and hopefully so is their discipline.
With Brian Gionta keeping the pace he's set for himself in the final stretch of the season, they can rely on being led by example. With a little help from Andrei Kostitsyn, Benoit Pouliot, Davis Desharnais and Lars Eller, they can really make a push. And, as much as they've had their ups and downs with Jacques Martin behind the bench all season, I think they have a better coach than Boston does. Claude Julien seems to play a more emotional game than Martin does, so let's hope that plays a factor in deciding the series.
It's clear now that Max Pacioretty will not be making an appearance in the first round. Apart from that the Habs injuries are status quo. As for Boston, they are playing with a full, healthy roster.
It goes without saying that Carey Price and Tim Thomas are tonight's starters. Expect an awesome pace to this game. Let's hope for some heavy checking that leads to penalties. Some over-aggressiveness from the Bruins, and some smooth hands and speed from Montreal's top six.
This is it boys, let's make a run baby!
Game starts at 7pm and will air on RDS and CBC.
Game 1, Habs vs Bruins. Enjoy.
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