BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins need their top line of David Krejci centering Milan Lucic and Jarome Iginla to produce if they want to not only beat the Montreal Canadiens in the upcoming Eastern Conference Second Round series but advance well into June.
Krejci, who was limited to two assists by the Detroit Red Wings in the Bruins' five-game victory in the first round, plans on being a difference-maker against the Canadiens when the best-of-7 series gets underway.
"They obviously got some little guys, so they like to play with the puck. They play fast and shifty. But I feel like, especially my line, I know we're going to be the line that's playing with the puck a lot," Krejci said after practice Tuesday at TD Garden. "So it's going to be up to them to stop us. We're going to be trying to make something happen and I'm going to try to have the puck on my stick all the time. That's going to be the difference between Detroit and this series."
Lucic scored three goals against the Red Wings, but Krejci wasn't on the ice for any of them. Iginla scored a game-winner in overtime in Game 4 and an empty-net goal in Game 5. Krejci lamented his line's tendency to chase the Red Wings through the first half of the series. He thought his line was better in the later games.
Recent history between the Bruins and Canadiens in the playoffs, however, proves timeliness counts more than abundance when it comes to Krejci and his linemates. No one remembers Krejci had just one point (a goal) against Montreal in 2011. They remember he led all scorers with 23 points in 25 games as the Bruins rolled to the Stanley Cup championship. No one remembers Iginla's predecessor, Nathan Horton, had just three points in that series. They remember two of those points were overtime goals, including the series-clincher in Game 7.
"So it's not about how many points, it's just about who scores at the right moment, just like [Iginla] did in Detroit in Detroit Game 4 or Nathan did those two games," Krejci said.
Defensemen P.K. Subban and Josh Gorges made up the Montreal defense pair that slowed Krejci's line down three years ago. That duo figures to have a similar assignment this year. The Canadiens have already had success against the Bruins this season, with three wins in four regular-season games. Montreal is also riding the momentum of a four-game sweep in the first round against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although there might be similarities between the Canadiens and the Red Wings, coach Claude Julien isn't spending much time drawing parallels. He's more concerned with making the opposition react to what his team can do.
"Well they are both good teams, we know that. Detroit was a good team, they are a good skating team, and so is Montreal," Julien said. "Montreal had a great series against Tampa. Anybody who watched that series recognized that. So again, we're a group right now that feels good about our game, but we're that same group that has a tough series ahead of us. We respect other teams' strengths and we also respect our game to the point where we have confidence in it."
Boston and Montreal, which will meet for the 34th time in the playoffs, are a long-storied rivalry, but that doesn't mean a lot to the players beyond what it means in the big playoff picture. The veterans have been through this before with Boston and Montreal playing one another for the fourth time in seven seasons. And the newcomers don't seem that affected by it either.
"I know it's a rivalry. But as a player, you're more focused on your game and not so much that it's Montreal," Boston center Carl Soderberg said. "So we want to play our style of hockey and hope that's enough."
The Bruins dropped the first two games of their season series with Montreal, but then went up to Bell Centre and won 4-1 in one of their best all-around performances of the season. Goaltender Tuukka Rask made 35 saves and four different Bruins scored goals. A little less than two weeks later, the Bruins played the Canadiens to a draw through 65 minutes and then lost the shootout.
Julien said he doesn't put much weight in regular-season results, especially since the Bruins just beat a Red Wings team they lost to three times during the regular season. The Bruins want to build on those performances and the job they did against Detroit in the first round.
If anything is certain, it's that there are few secrets between these two divisional foes. A minor detail here or there could turn the series in one team's favor.
"I think it's just about who's going to do their homework a little bit better," Krejci said. "And then we've just got to trust the system and go out there and do the job. I think we have a pretty good team here, and if we'll do our homework right then we should be able to get some results."
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