BOSTON, MA - The Bruins and Canadiens get the honor of kicking off the second round with Game 1 tonight at TD Garden.
In preparation, the Black & Gold hit the ice for their routine pregame skate Thursday morning, with Daniel Paille once again on the ice with the group.
Brad Marchand did not join in the skate (he skated Wednesday with the team after missing Tuesday's practice). "He took his option," Head Coach Claude Julien said of the winger's absence.
As for Paille, Julien said the forward would be a "game-time" decision to return to the lineup. He's been out of game action since the second to last regular season game on April 12 against Buffalo when he took a heavy hit.
"Yesterday, and going into this morning's skate, I feel like I'm back to where I need to be," Paille said following the skate.
It's been a somewhat frustrating few weeks for the forward, and while extremely proud of the team's performance in Round 1, he's been itching to get back into the lineup.
"We had to take a lot more precautions, find a lot more answers, and it was more patience I guess than anything," said Paille. "But other than that, everything is pretty solid."
"It's not a major, major issue but it's enough to affect certain parts of my game where it bothered me, but again, it took three weeks to get this all cleared up and I'm ready to go."
With head injuries, the processes and protocols are designed for a player to feel 100 percent, both mentally and physically, before getting back into skating and then game action. Paille was cleared on Tuesday, and got in two practices of full contact.
"I'm not going to change the way I need to play. I'm going to take hits and I'm going to give hits as much as I can so I'm not going to change to the way I have to play," he said. "If I do, I'm not effective out there, especially in playoffs; that's the way I've got to play."
While the official word will come after warmups whether Paille is back in, his teammates could still be optimistic about what he would add to the lineup.
"He's been great for us all year on the penalty kill, he brings his speed and also he's got definitely great vision, and he has great chemistry with his linemates," said Patrice Bergeron. "They do a great job as a 'fourth unit,' but still they can chip in and score goals, being huge for us at key times during games, so he's definitely a big part of our team."
Black & Gold Ready to Go
Since the Bruins wrapped up their first round series on Saturday against Detroit, they've faced countless questions about the Bruins-Habs rivalry, the regular season matchup, and how to stay disciplined and control their emotions.
They're ready for the talk to end, and to just get to playing.
"Guys are excited just being in the playoffs so the day before or two days before that, I think everybody is just looking forward to getting it started," said Julien.
"I'm sure it's exciting for both teams. It's going to be for sure a very intense game, just like every game in the playoffs," said Zdeno Chara.
Prior to every Boston-Montreal matchup, whether during the preseason, regular season or playoffs, Bergeron is always asked about the excitement and emotions around the rivalry, and what the atmosphere will be like. His answer never changes, and probably never will.
"There's definitely a lot of history and it's always very special to play the Canadiens," said Bergeron.
"At this time of the year in the playoffs, it doesn't matter who you're playing, it's always special. It's always an intense game and hard to play against type of games to win, so it's about making sure we take it up to another notch and be ready for tonight."
It's the playoffs. There's motivation by default.
"Take Montreal out of it, or even the playoffs, I think everyone is up for this going into the second round," said Paille. "There shouldn't be any excuse not to be prepared and ready and not only physically ready, but mentally ready as well."s
Projected Boston Lineup: Game 1
Milan Lucic - David Krejci - Jarome Iginla
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Reilly Smith
Justin Florek* - Carl Soderberg - Loui Eriksson
Daniel Paille* - Gregory Campbell - Shawn Thornton
Zdeno Chara - Dougie Hamilton
Matt Bartkowski - Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Backup: Chad Johnson
*If Paille is back in the lineup, he would likely play on the left wing back on his "Merlot Line," or slide in alongside Soderberg and Eriksson, as he has before. Florek or Caron would likely fill the other spot on the left.