The Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins
have been here before.
It wasn't exactly the same situation as the Bruins find themselves in now, but when they face the Montreal Canadiens
at Bell Centre on Saturday night they should be able to draw some inspiration from a very similar feeling last spring.
The Bruins were down two games to none against the Canadiens in the playoffs last season coming to Montreal for Game 3, but they pulled out a 4-2 win in that game and followed it up with a comeback victory, 5-4, in overtime in Game 4 on their way to a seven-game series win.
These Bruins arrive in Montreal sitting in last place in the Eastern Conference and already assured of having the worst 10-game start of any defending champion in 17 years.
A regular season game before Halloween could never justifiably be compared to a playoff game in April, but this is probably as close as you can get.
"We're certainly not happy where we are in the standings or as a team, and we're looking for solutions to get our team going in the right direction. Sometimes putting some familiar faces back together is not a bad thing." -- Boston coach Claude Julien on reuniting his top line, defense paring from last postseason
"I understand the parallel," Bruins coach Claude Julien
said. "We thought our (last) game in Boston, of the nine games we've played it was the one where we executed the poorest. That's what it was for the first two games of the playoffs. I didn't think we executed well, we didn't look like the team that we were supposed to be. We came back here and turned that around. But at the same time, we're looking at the situation right now and what needs to be done more than looking for examples of where those things turned around in the past."
The Bruins are, however, looking back to last year's playoffs in another way. Julien's lines at the morning skate Saturday suggested that Zdeno Chara
and Dennis Seidenberg
, a pairing that dominated last spring, will play together on defense for the first time all season. Also, the top line of Milan Lucic
, David Krejci
and Nathan Horton
are back together after a rough start and an injury to Krejci had them broken up for a few games.
"We're certainly not happy where we are in the standings or as a team, and we're looking for solutions to get our team going in the right direction," Julien said. "Sometimes putting some familiar faces back together is not a bad thing."
If anyone understands the mindset the Bruins find themselves in, it would be the Canadiens. Prior to their current two-game winning streak, all the talk in Montreal surrounded the team's worst start to a season in 70 years and who should pay the price for it. While the Canadiens are not out of trouble yet, that external chatter has died down significantly.
But in the Canadiens room, the urgency remains just as high as it did when their fellow Montreal residents were in full panic mode.
"We're both teams that know we have to win games, and this game is no exception," said defenseman Hal Gill
. "It's a rivalry, it's a big game, but in the end we're both teams that need these two points. That's what makes it fun, that's what makes it exciting."
Still, with the heated nature of this rivalry and the voluminous elements that have led to it intensifying in recent years, it would be impossible for the Canadiens not revel just a little bit in the Bruins' misfortune right now.
"We went through the same thing that they're going through right now," Canadiens center Lars Eller
said. "I'm sure they think they're better than this, just like we did. They're a good team, they won't be down there (in the standings) forever. But hopefully we can make it so they stay down there a bit longer."