BOSTON – At this time of year, the only game plan the Habs are focusing on is their own.
The Canadiens opened their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Boston with a 2-0 victory, but it was far from an easy win for the No.6 seed. While the Bruins will likely be searching for alternatives to the system that saw them held off the scoresheet on Thursday night, the Habs will be prepared to do all the little things even better than they did in Game 1.
“We try to take away time and space and we’re a better team when we’re playing our way, playing in their end and working our forecheck and I think we did that,” described veteran blue-liner Hal Gill, who played 22:34 against his former team in the series opener. “I know they’re not happy with how they did and I assume they’re going to do some things differently and do some things harder. We have to be ready for that and keep going the way we can play and impose that on them.”
Despite the talk before the Boston-Montreal series began about the physically imposing style of the big, bad Bruins versus the finesse game of the speedy, undersized Habs, the home team threw exactly one more hit than the visitors did in Game 1. P.K. Subban
spent a good chunk of his game-high 27:07 working to shut down Bruins bruisers like Milan Lucic, and the rookie defenseman isn’t anticipating an easier ride when Game 2 kicks off on Saturday night.
“You can’t prepare for guys like that. He’s so big that if he’s going to get to the front of the net, it’s going to be tough to deter him from doing that,” explained Subban of the Bruins’ 6-foot-4 power forward. “I think playing well positionally and maybe trying to decrease the amount of time he has to get to the front of the net is key. If you can slow him down a little bit, maybe that gives our goaltender a chance to see the puck.
“Last game, you have to give them credit – I thought they did a pretty good job of getting to the net,” he added. “Carey played really well and seemed to find the puck and he covered it in time before they could get a stick on it. They’re big body guys; we’ve got our work cut out for us again tonight.”
Having taken away the home ice advantage Boston worked 82 games to earn in just 60 minutes on Thursday night, Subban isn’t expecting to see a tame bunch of Bruins hitting the ice at TD Garden for Game 2.
“We know that it means a lot to them and in their rink they’re going to come out with a lot of energy. We expect that,” confirmed the 21-year-old blue-liner. “Like last game, the first five or 10 minutes are going to be so important tonight. For us, we have to match their intensity and it’s going to be tough. They’re going to come out emotional but we have to match that and do all the right things early and then make sure we keep doing those things consistently.”
One of the best things the Habs did in Thursday’s game was scoring before fans had even gotten a chance to settle into their seats in the first period. With a 32-6-6 record in the regular season when getting on the board first, that’s something Michael Cammalleri wouldn’t mind seeing more of as the series progresses.
“The idea going in is you have a whole game you want to execute as well as possible and the results will take care of themselves. But if we score two and a half minutes in again, we’ll take it,” joked the Habs sniper. “I expect them to be as good as they can be tonight. The implications are all there and everyone is aware of them. Boston is going to come out and really throw it all at us tonight and that’s ok; that’s what we expect. We think we’re capable of doing the same.”Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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