This will be the 32nd playoff meeting between the "Original Six" franchises – the most between any two teams in NHL history. It has been a one-sided story over the years, with Montreal winning 24 of the previous 31 series – including the past three (in 2002, 2004 and 2008) and an amazing 18 straight from 1946 through 1987.
The Bruins went 5-0-1 against the Canadiens this season – 3-0-0 in Boston. That was a pronounced reversal from 2007-08, when Montreal swept the eight-game season series before beating Boston in a seven-game Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series.
Boston began the season 29-5-4 and went on to its first division title since 2004. The Bruins' lone rough patch was a 6-8-3 stretch from Feb. 7-Mar. 12. Montreal also started fast, opening its Centennial Season 8-1-1. But losing 10 of 13 in a January-February stretch that put GM Bob Gainey behind the bench. The Canadiens went 0-3-1 in their last four regular-season games.
The Bruins had seven 20-goal scorers, tops in the NHL this season – and defenseman Zdeno Chara
sat out the regular season finale with 19 goals. Forward Phil Kessel
led the way, scoring 36 goals. In contrast, the Canadiens had just three players top 16 goals (Alex Kovalev
26, Andrei Kostitsyn
23 and Tomas Plekanec
The teams compiled almost identical penalty-killing records -- Montreal ranked 11th in the League, Boston 12th. On the power play, there was a bit of a discrepancy, with Boston 4th in the top five and Montreal (13th) in the middle of the NHL pack.
Tale of Two Targets:
Montreal's Carey Price
burst upon the scene, taking over the Canadiens' No. 1 job as a 20-year-old last season amid raves that he was following in the footsteps of the precocious Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy
. Boston's Tim Thomas
didn't become an NHL regular until 2005-06 at age 30. Price has played 11 NHL post-season games, beating the Bruins in seven games last spring before succumbing to Philadelphia in the Conference Semis. That first-round series against Montreal last April represents all of Thomas' playoff experience.
NHL Playoff Appearance: 64th (second consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 5 (1929, 1939, 1941, 1970, 1972)
Last Playoff Series Win: 1999 (Conference Quarter-Final vs. Carolina)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 47-58
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 245-268-6
Acquired D Steve Montador
from Anaheim for C Petteri Nokelainen
Acquired RW Mark Recchi
and Tampa Bay's 2nd-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft from Tampa Bay for D Matt Lashoff
and RW Martins Karsums
The Bruins ranked second in the NHL in offense in 2008-09 with 274 goals, a dramatic turnaround from their #25 ranking in 2007-08 when they tallied 212. They hit the 30-win mark in their 41st game of the season (30-7-4) on Jan. 8 vs. Ottawa, the fastest they have reached 30 wins since 1929-30 (30-4-1). Their 10-game win streak from Dec. 12-Jan. 1 was their longest since Mar. 9-28, 1973 and tied for the fourth-longest such streak in their history.
led the NHL in goals-against average (2.10) and save percentage (.933), the first goaltender to complete the statistical double since Marty Turco
of the Dallas Stars
in 2002-03. He is the first Bruins goaltender to lead the League in GAA since Pete Peeters
in 1982-83 and the first Bruin to post the top save percentage since the statistic was introduced in 1976-77.
Thomas posted 1-0 victories Oct. 27 in Edmonton and Oct. 28 in Vancouver, becoming just the second goaltender in NHL history to record consecutive 1-0 road victories. Thomas matched Florida's Craig Anderson
, who shut out the New York Islanders
and Boston on Mar. 2 and 4, 2008.
posted an 18-game point streak from Nov. 13 to Dec. 21, the longest in the NHL this season. Kessel recorded 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in that span. It was the longest such streak by a Bruin since Adam Oates
' 20-game run from Jan. 7 to Feb. 20, 1997 and the fifth-longest in team history.
evoked memories of Bruins legend Cam Neely
among the Boston faithful with a vivid physical play and scoring in consecutive games. Lucic delivered a thundering hit on Toronto's Mike Van Ryn
Oct. 23 followed by a hat trick against Atlanta two nights later. Lucic ended his sophomore NHL season with career highs in goals (17), assists (25) and points (42).
finished seventh in rookie scoring with 21-24--45 in 81 games. He led all rookies in plus-minus and was second behind teammate David Krejci
among all NHL players with a +36 rating -- the best among NHL rookies since Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom
posted a +36 in 1991-92.
again provided the Bruins with major minutes on the blueline, ranking sixth among NHL players in average ice time per game (26:04). Chara also ranked 12th among defensemen in scoring with 19-31--50. He made headlines at NHL All-Star Weekend by blasting a 105.4-mph slap shot to win the Cisco NHL Hardest Shot title for the third consecutive year and break the record of 105.2 mph set by Al Iafrate in 1993 in the Montreal Forum.
led the Bruins in scoring for the third consecutive season, tallying 88 points (25 goals, 63 assists) in 82 games. Savard has registered 269 assists over the past four seasons; the only NHL player with more is San Jose's Joe Thornton
Oct. 9: Patrice Bergeron
made his return to the NHL after missing all but 10 games of the 2007-08 season with a concussion and David Krejci
scored with 2:36 remaining in regulation to break a 4-4 tie and give the Bruins a 5-4 victory at Colorado in their season opener. In a preview of a successful rookie season to come, Blake Wheeler
scored in his first career NHL game.
The Bruins notched their ninth consecutive home victory and capped an 11-1-1 November -- their most productive month in 30 years -- by defeating the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings
, 4-1. The loss was just the Red Wings' second in regulation in a road game in 2008-09 (10-2-2).
The Bruins extended their winning streak to 10 games -- their longest since a 10-gamer from March 9-28, 1973 -- and rose to first place in the NHL standings with a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins
Trailing, 3-1, entering the third period, the Bruins scored a pair of power-play goals to tie the score and went on to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs
, 4-3, in a shootout at Air Canada Centre. It marked the first victory of the season for the Bruins in a game they trailed entering the final period.
The Bruins clinched the Northeast Division title for the first time since 2003-04 and extended their lead atop the Eastern Conference to five points, turning back the hard-charging New Jersey Devils
by posting a 4-1 win.
NHL Playoff Appearance: 77th (second consecutive)
Stanley Cups: 24 (last: 1993)
Last Playoff Series Win: 2008 (Conference Quarter-Final vs. Boston)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 87-52
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 398-273-8
Acquired C Robert Lang
from Chicago for Toronto's 2nd-round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft (previously acquired).
Acquired D Mathieu Schneider
and a conditional 3rd-round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft from Atlanta for Anaheim's 2nd-round pick in 2009 (previously acquired) and Montreal's 3rd-round pick in 2010.
Acquired D Doug Janik
from Dallas for C Steve Begin
Claimed C Glen Metropolit
on waivers from Philadelphia.
The Canadiens were among the NHL's top clubs in the first half of the season, reaching a season-high 16 games over .500 (27-11-6) with a 5-4 overtime victory at Ottawa Jan. 17. Subsequently hurt by the lengthy absences of top scorers Alex Tanguay
and Robert Lang
, the club posted a 14-19-5 mark thereafter. GM Bob Gainey replaced head coach Guy Carbonneau
behind the bench Mar. 9 and posted a 6-6-4 record.
RW Alex Kovalev
led the Canadiens in scoring for the second consecutive season with 65 points (26 goals, 39 assists) in 78 games. He was voted by fans to start the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal and thrilled the hometown crowd by capturing MVP honors with two goals and one assist and the game-deciding shootout goal in a 12-11 Eastern Conference victory. Kovalev has tallied 941 points (394 goals, 547 assists) in 1,151 games with the New York Rangers
, Pittsburgh and Montreal in his 16-year NHL career.
again ranked among the scoring leaders among defensemen, tallying career highs in assists (52) and points (64). The only defenseman with more points was Washington's Mike Green
(31-42--73). Markov missed the Canadiens' last four games of the regular season due to injury.
The mid-February acquisition of D Mathieu Schneider
helped the Canadiens power play dramatically. In the 57 games prior to Schneider's arrival, Montreal scored three power-play goals in a game once; they got three in Schneider's debut at Washington Feb. 18 and did so five more times since.
Montreal power-play before Schneider: 42/261 (16.1%, 25th in NHL through Feb. 17)
Montreal power-play since Schneider: 30/113 (26.5%, 3rd in NHL from Feb. 18)
LW Alex Tanguay
has been a major contributor to Montreal's cause in his first season with the club. Tanguay tallied 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in just 50 games, having been sidelined all of January and February, and led the club in plus-minus (+13). In fact, Tanguay has been a ‘plus' player in each of his nine seasons, posting a cumulative +157 rating. Tanguay's clubs never have failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
carried the majority of the Canadiens' goaltending load in 2008-09, one year after winning the starting job and capturing NHL All-Rookie honors as a 20 year old. Price went 23-16-10 with a 2.83 goals-against average and one shutout in 52 games.
: After beginning the season with a three-game road trip, the Canadiens opened the home schedule of their Centennial celebration with an exciting 4-3 shootout victory over their longtime rival and 2008 first-round playoff opponent, the Boston Bruins
. Alex Tanguay
, acquired in a big off-season trade, scored the shootout winner to rescue a game in which Montreal had led, 3-0.
The Canadiens trailed the New York Islanders
, 4-1, with 13 minutes remaining in regulation but tallied four unanswered goals in a 7:31 span to pull out a 5-4 victory on Long Island. Montreal's Alex Kovalev
, who had opened the scoring in the first period, capped the furious rally with the game-winner at 15:19 of the third period.
The Canadiens scored four third-period goals, including the unassisted game-winner from Sergei Kostitsyn
with just 21.2 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 5-4 victory over the Washington Capitals
. Montreal improved its record to 9-1-1 in its past 11 games.
The Canadiens, in danger of extending their season-high losing streak to five games, got a pair of goals in the last two minutes of regulation time to escape with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings
. Chris Higgins
tied the game with 1:53 remaining in the third period and Saku Koivu
tallied the game-winner on a power play with 22.3 seconds left.
The Canadiens picked up points in their sixth consecutive game (5-0-1) with a 6-2 victory at Toronto. RW Alex Kovalev
put the finishing touches on his NHL 'First Star' performance for the week by tallying four points (two goals, two assists).