MONTREAL – For the first time in nearly 40 years, the Canadiens and the Red Wings will do battle in the postseason.
When Detroit advanced to the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday night by eliminating the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mike Babcock’s contingent secured a highly-anticipated matchup with their Original Six rivals. It will be the 13th time in NHL history that Montreal and Detroit square off in postseason play.
The last time these two historic franchises met up during the playoffs was back in 1977-78 when the Canadiens downed the Red Wings in five games just weeks before hoisting the 21st Stanley Cup in team history. While Detroit has enjoyed plenty of playoff success against Montreal, winning seven of the 12 series they’ve played, the Canadiens have won the last four series in a row. And, the CH has enjoyed good success on home ice against the Red Wings over the years, boasting a 19-11 record during the postseason.
Since the Red Wings returned to the Eastern Conference and the Atlantic Division last year, the Canadiens have met up with the Michigan-based franchise countless times during the regular season. In 2014-15, Michel Therrien’s troops swept the four-game season series. On April 9, Carey Price established a new single-season win record among goaltenders in franchise history in a 4-3 overtime win over the Red Wings at the Bell Centre. Price picked up his record-setting 43rd win of the year, surpassing both Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden.
This series will have some extra significance for Jeff Petry and Greg Pateryn, both of whom are Michigan natives and grew up cheering on the Red Wings during their Stanley Cup wins in the 1990s. In addition, Petry and Mike Weaver played college hockey at Michigan State, while Max Pacioretty donned the colours of the University of Michigan.
For their part, Price and P.K. Subban will go up against their former Olympic bench boss, with whom they claimed a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
If the regular season meetings between the two teams are any indication, most notably the last two which both required overtime, we’re likely in for a highly competitive second-round series.
Hugo Fontaine is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.