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by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
MONTREAL – The Canadiens showed off their thick skin on Thursday night against the Bruins and in doing so, reached their first goal – to make the playoffs.

“It was important for us to clinch a spot in the playoffs and that’s what we did in getting a point on Thursday,” explained Gainey. “The Bruins are the top team in the East. They had all their key elements available to them, but 60 minutes wasn’t enough to beat us.”

While others had offered up their prediction that Georges Laraque would be there to tame the bears at TD Banknorth Garden, the Habs’ head coach surprised many by not calling on his heavyweight. And don’t expect the mystery to be solved any time soon.

“If I tell you, everyone will know because you’ll publish it,” said Gainey. “I prefer keep a couple of cards in my hand.”

No stranger to the rough stuff after snapping the Broad Street Bullies’ reign in 1976, when the Canadiens won the first of four straight, Gainey had no problem with the robust play that dominated the contest, in which 76 penalty minutes were handed down.

“I like those types of games, where the intensity and physical game are high,” he admitted. “We’re playing hockey, not badminton.”

The Habs might not know until Sunday where between Washington and Boston they’ll be headed next week but that won’t keep their bench boss tossing and turning.

“Boston and Washington are two different teams, both with their strengths and weaknesses,” noted Gainey. “The way we played on Thursday, there’s no reason for us to be scared to face any team.”

Heather Engel is a writer for

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