MONTREAL (AP) - The Montreal Canadiens will face another team they swept during the regular season when they take on the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference semifinal.
Montreal, the top seed in the East, won each of its four games against Philadelphia this season. The Canadiens were pushed to the limit in winning their first-round series against Boston in seven games after going 8-0 against the Bruins during the regular season.
"The regular season doesn't mean anything now," Montreal captain Saku Koivu said after Wednesday's late afternoon practice. "Teams are very different in the playoffs, the intensity level is higher. We saw that in the Washington-Philadelphia series."
Flyers defenseman Randy Jones believes his team will clear the slate and forget about their struggles against the Canadiens, and concentrate instead on the strong team effort that led to a seven-game win over the Capitals in the opening round.
"We're not concerning ourselves with what we've done against them," Jones said. "We're going into this knowing we're playing well. We're more concerned with our game. We're going to concentrate on our game. We know when we play our game we can beat any team. We played a pretty good series against Washington and we're pretty excited."
Philadelphia is facing Montreal in the playoffs for the fifth time overall, and first since 1989, when Canadiens GM Bob Gainey was Montreal's captain, playing on a line centered by current head coach Guy Carbonneau.
The Flyers, whose only series win against the Canadiens was in 1987, will be playing their third game in four nights in three different cities when the series opens Thursday night in Montreal.
Jones wasn't overly concerned with the workload, particularly because the Flyers are bringing along the momentum of Tuesday's 3-2 overtime win in Washington.
"I don't think conditioning has anything to do with it," Jones said. "We're definitely going in on a high."
The Canadiens are coming in with a mixture of the high of finishing off the Bruins with an emphatic 5-0 win Monday in Game 7, and the chagrin of the franchise's name being sullied by association in the wake of postgame rioting in downtown Montreal that saw 16 police cars destroyed, including five that were set on fire.
Carbonneau expressed his dismay about the incident when he addressed the issue Wednesday.
"The bad part of it is that it's not always our fans," Carbonneau said. "You get some guys waiting at a street corner with a mask."
Montreal police arrested seven more people Wednesday as a result of camera and video footage supplied to them in addition to 16 people previously arrested, including three minors. Police estimate the cost of the damage to their vehicles at approximately $500,000.
The Canadiens issued a statement Tuesday that said the team "deeply regret the acts of vandalism and the wrongdoings of a few isolated groups of individuals that took place in the downtown area late last night following the Canadiens' 5-0 win over the Boston Bruins."
It's hard to imagine what might have happened if Montreal had lost the game.
That wasn't the case, though, after Carbonneau moved Alex Kovalev to a line with Koivu and Chris Higgins. Kovalev assisted on the Canadiens' first two goals Monday and brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn joined forces on a line centered by Tomas Plekanec and combined to score Montreal's last three goals.
It's a look that Flyers center Jeff Carter feels is somewhat similar to what they faced against the Capitals in Alex Ovechkin, Sergei Fedorov and Alexander Semin.
"We just have to play them the same way we played the skill guys in Washington," Carter said. "It's a lot similar. The Russians are real puck possession guys, dipsy-doodle, skate all around and make fancy plays. You just have to take away their time and space. And I think we'll be all right."
Philadelphia's Daniel Briere will be in store for another rough ride from the Bell Centre crowd. Briere, who leads playoff scorers with six goals and 11 points, was booed every time he touched the puck during his two games in Montreal after he passed up the Canadiens' free agent contract offer last summer to sign with the Flyers.
After getting to Washington's Cristobal Huet, Briere will face a new challenge in facing 20-year-old Carey Price, who took over as Montreal's No. 1 goalie when Huet was dealt to the Capitals at the trading deadline.
"Maybe they don't have a skill player like Ovechkin but their skill level is extremely high," Briere said. "They have more depth. I think they're faster than Washington. Their defensemen are very good. There's a reason why they finished first in the East. It's going to be tougher, no doubt about it."