It’s no surprise that the Boston Bruins vs Montreal Canadiens series is already gaining traction despite the wait. This storied NHL rivalry will be the thirty fourth meeting between the two teams in playoff history and is sure to be a thriller. That being said here’s what to watch for as the Bruins face off against the Canadiens.
Both teams are more than adequate offensively with both including some skilled offensive players. Montreal will however look like the more exciting team due to their team speed, despite not being as prolific of a scoring team as top seed Boston.
The Canadiens will attempt to use that speed to their advantage, skating around the bigger Bruins defense men and beating them on the race to the puck. Quick movement of the puck and players moving without the puck will be necessary to crack a solid Boston defense. Quick play from undersized players like David Desharnais could be decisive in the offensive end.
The Bruins will look to do almost the exact opposite in the offensive ends, getting the puck in deep and winning on the boards. Look for Boston to exert their physical size on the forecheck and to get in front of net and scrum for some hard earned goals. The power forwards of Boston most importantly Lucic will look to punish the opposition deep in their own end.
If you watch the Bruins at all this year you know what to expect in their own end. Good positioning, strong sticks, and crushing physical defense will be expected in front of Tuukka Rask. The Bruins defense is not as athletic as many and will need to make up for it with angles and long sticks poking the puck away. The reach of Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuck will be tested so expect a volume of shots tipped up over the glass off Bruins sticks.
Montreal will likely have a tough time containing the middle of the ice with their less physical play and will have to use speed and positioning to make up for it. The Canadiens will look to beat the Bruins to the puck and move the puck out of their own end before it can get pinched in by the Boston forecheck. Top scoring defenseman P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov will need to be as efficient defensively as they are on offense to avoid being caught in their own zone.
Rask vs. Price
Both teams will feel confident playing in front of their starting goalies, the Bruins with Tuukka Rask and the Canadiens with Carey Price. Price’s goal differential is slightly worse but the big stat to look at is save percentage where Price is only a fraction behind Rask saving 92.7% of shots compared to Rask’s 93%. Generally it appears to be evenly matched at goalie, however Price has shown some inconsistencies in the past and will need to fix those if the Canadians want to win the series.
P.K. Subban vs. Boston
It’s hard to say one player is up against the entire city, but in Sabban’s case just about everyone in New England is rooting against him. Subban is known in Boston as a “diver” a “sally” among other more expletive statements but the worst part is that Subban is actually a good player. with 53 points on the season Subban is a legitimate threat as a puck moving defenseman. nevertheless a monsoon of boos will be issued just about every time he touches the puck, and if a Bruins player gets a nice hit it could bring the TD Garden to life. Subban will look to manage all the negativity, but that is a tough task for any player regularly nevermind in the playoffs.
Zdeno Chara vs. Speed
Although he is many wonderful things Zdeno Chara is not fleet of foot. Other than Max Pacioretty, who will likely be filing a restraining order against Chara, the Canadiens have a slippery fast team on offense. For a player in Chara who has shown wear in the playoffs over the years, and is already slow to begin with it will take a ton of discipline to stay in front of the Montreal attack. He won’t get beat often, but when he does he needs to make sure its not for a complete breakaway.
Be sure to check back here for the best playoff coverage as this series gets on its way tonight at 7:30 ET.
Cover photo credit: officepools.com