BOSTON — Throughout their second-round series against Boston, the Canadiens were never shy about the fact that they thought the Bruins “disrespected” them.
When all was said and done and the Canadiens left Boston with a 4-3 series victory and a ticket to the next round, Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien accepted their perspective, but he respectfully disagreed.
“You talk about disrespect, and I don’t think we disrespected them,” he said after Wednesday’s 3-1 season-ending defeat. “There’s a rivalry here, and what I said…was we don’t like each other because it’s a rivalry.”
Montreal took exception to some of Boston’s goal celebrations during the series, one of which was a chest-pounding gesture meant to allude to the city’s “Boston Strong” mantra in the wake of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.
“The pounding of the chest — the people who have been here have seen us do that all year because it’s related to Boston Strong. Our guys take some pride in what’s happened in Boston Strong, and unfortunately, everything we did seemed to be seen as disrespect in Montreal.
“And we heard a lot of that whining in terms of the series, but it had nothing to do with disrespect, and whether it’s flexing a muscle — that’s gamesmanship. It’s like that in every round. So it’s too bad that it gets blown out of proportion, but you know what? They won the series, fair and square. They were the better team tonight, and you have to respect that. So it’s up to us to move on, and them to keep moving toward their goal.”
In the end, the Canadiens insisted that they used Boston’s “disrespect” as motivation to win the series — particularly Game 7 in Boston.
Whether it was Milan Lucic flexing a muscle or Shawn Thornton, on the bench, squirting P.K. Subban with water — an incident that occurred at the very end of Game 5 and came with a $2,820.52 fine — the Canadiens felt they weren’t given the respect that they deserved.
“We all saw the muscle flexing, the helmet tossing and the water bottle spray— those are all things we tried to use to our advantage,” said forward Daniel Briere.
Defenseman P.K. Subban said at the end of the day, the Canadiens won respect for what they did on the ice rather than what was said off it.
“I think generally I think we’re a team that earned respect today around the league, you know, as a team that is a competitive team and can compete for the Stanley Cup,” he said. “I think that, you know, that’s our goal, that’s what we want. But I think it’s about time that people give us the recognition that we deserve.”
Canadiens Head Coach Michel Therrien seconded that notion.
“You know what, to be able to do that accomplishment — to beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 in their building, — I believe those guys have earned some respect,” he said. “The respect — you’ve got to earn it, and I thought tonight, those guys earned it.”