- The Canadiens held an optional skate at the TD Garden in Boston on Thursday morning ahead of contesting Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the Bruins.
- All players were present and accounted for at practice on Thursday morning, except for Max Pacioretty.
- The Canadiens did not feature any lines at practice. Head coach Michel Therrien indicated that he would not reveal his lineup prior to the start of Game 1. He also said that Travis Moen would be available for the game, if needed. Moen has been sidelined since sustaining a concussion on Mar. 24 against the Bruins.
- Boasting the most playoff experience on the Canadiens roster, Daniel Briere knows a thing or two about the upswing in physicality during the playoffs. The 36-year-old forward experienced that type of hockey as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I’ve had the chance to play some intense playoff hockey in my life. Philadelphia-Boston, Philadelphia-Pittsburgh. We all saw how things got out of hand a few years back,” mentioned Briere, who recalled the 2012 playoffs that featured a Flyers-Penguins matchup in which both clubs combined to rack up 309 penalty minutes during the series. “We’ll see what happens, but I’m comfortable in those types of series, too. I’ve been involved in series that have a similar type of feeling as this one. You never know how things are going to go. We’re ready for everything. That’s the beauty of hockey. You never know what to expect. ”
Briere, who has gone up against the Bruins 50 times during the regular season over the course of his NHL career, has a healthy respect for the Canadiens’ opponent in the second round. He insists the matchup is a special one.
“We feel good. We feel confident. We know that the Bruins are a great hockey team, but sometimes there are matchups that are more comfortable than others. We think that this might be one of them,” concluded Briere.
- It’s no secret what brand of hockey the Bruins intend to play against the Canadiens come puck drop on Thursday night in Boston. Simply put, Claude Julien’s troops are who they are, and they likely won’t deviate from an aggressive and hard-hitting style of play that enabled them to capture the Presidents’ Trophy this season before downing the Red Wings in five games in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs.
That being said, the Canadiens are coming off an impressive sweep of the Lightning in Round 1, and they don’t intend on deviating from what has brought them success thus far during the playoffs.
“We need to focus on what makes our team good no matter who we’re playing. We can’t try to play Boston Bruins hockey. We have to focus on what we do and how we make ourselves successful,” offered defenseman Josh Gorges, who will battle the Bruins in a playoff series for the third time in his NHL career beginning on Thursday night. “We’ve got to have guys that are in their face, that are willing to go to the net, live in the paint and not bump the goalie. You can’t be taking penalties. You can’t be taking retaliations if they give you an extra shot.”
In the midst of his third career playoff run – and second as a member of the Canadiens – Rene Bourque stressed a similar approach, noting the importance of maintaining self-discipline against a Bruins squad that boasts the top-ranked power play in the NHL this postseason.
“It’s playoffs. I think that penalties are just that much bigger when you take them and they can hurt you that much more,” offered Bourque, who sits tied with Brendan Gallagher for top spot on the team with three goals through four games during the playoffs. “There are guys on both sides that are agitators. Everybody knows who they are. We’ve just got to play smart.”
- Head coach Michel Therrien knows the Bruins and bench boss Claude Julien well. Interestingly enough, Julien was behind the bench in Hamilton during Therrien’s first coaching stint with the Canadiens. Needless to say, Therrien knows what the Bruins are capable of.
“We’re playing against the best team. Underdog or not, the Boston Bruins are the best team in the league right now. We understand that it’s a huge challenge not only for us, but for all of the teams that play them,” offered Therrien, who has prepared his team for Thursday night’s tilt over the last 10 days. “They finished in first place and it was well-deserved. We’re confident, though. I like the way that we finished the year. That gave us the confidence we needed coming into the playoffs. We had a really good first round. The way that we played in the first round gave us confidence for the next step.”
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