MONTREAL - The game of musical chairs is finally over. Regardless of the outcome of Sunday afternoon’s game between the Penguins and Flyers, the Canadiens will face a familiar foe in the Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs.
The series will mark the 31st time the Habs and Bruins have met in the playoffs over the course of their bitter 84-year rivalry. The Canadiens have enjoyed the upper hand, to say the least, with Montreal holding a 23-7 series edge over Boston.
Having met the Bruins in the playoffs 10 times during his playing career with the Canadiens, Guy Carbonneau knows his team will be in for a tough battle, despite his club’s perfect 8-0 mark against the B’s this season.
“Before thinking about Boston, we have to take the time to soak in what’s been a dream season for us,” said Carbonneau. “It’s going to be really intense like it always is, even though we played so well against them this season. We’re all looking forward to it, that’s for sure.”
With the Bruins thirsty for revenge, the Canadiens aren’t about to take their Northeast division rivals lightly.
“Boston is a good team,” admitted Mathieu Dandenault. “It’s going to be a hard-fought series. Whether it goes four, five, six or seven games, we’re going to have to be ready to play a physical style.”
The series won’t be lacking in the drama department either, with ex-Habs coach Claude Julien returning to his former stomping grounds determined to help lead the Bruins to a rare playoff triumph over the Canadiens.
“Their coach was on our side the last time these two teams met in the playoffs,” explained Kovalev about his former coach, who was behind the Canadiens’ bench when they beat the Bruins in 2004. “He will surely do whatever it takes to try to beat us.”
Chomping at the bit for the playoffs to get underway like the rest of his teammates, Christopher Higgins knows there’s nothing like springtime hockey in Montreal.
“It’s the most fun time of year to play because everything just means so much more. This is what it’s all about,” affirmed Higgins, itching to get his second taste of NHL postseason action. “Whether we finish first in the East or not, we’re really proud of what we’ve accomplished as a group this year. But that doesn’t change the fact that everyone will have zeroes on the board once the playoffs start.”Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com