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Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins series storylines

by Compiled By
Eight and O:  The Canadiens swept the Bruins this season, winning all eight games -- Montreal led 345 minutes and 41 seconds out of a possible 485 minutes of hockey during that span. Only one other time in Stanley Cup history has a team won as many as eight games against an opponent in a season and met that team in the playoffs.  In the 1984 playoffs, the Edmonton Oilers swept the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 in the best-of-five opening round series after going 8-0 against them in the regular season.

1 vs. 8:  A #8 team has beaten the #1 team seven times since 1994.  The last #8 seed to defeat a #1 was in 2006 when the Edmonton Oilers defeated Detroit Red Wings 4-2. Other #8 upsets include, Montreal over Boston (2002), San Jose over St. Louis (2000), Pittsburgh over New Jersey (1999), Ottawa over New Jersey (1998), NY Rangers over Quebec (1995) and San Jose over Detroit (1994).

Got your number:
The Canadiens' current win-streak against the Bruins stands at 11 games, dating back to March 20, 2007.  The Bruins' 11-game losing streak is the longest in the franchise's 84-year history against the Canadiens.

NHL Playoff Appearance: 76
Stanley Cups: 23 (Last: 1993)
Last Playoff Series Win: 2004  (Conference Quarter-Final vs. Boston)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 86-51
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 393-266-8


Oct. 26/07 -- Against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Canadiens score five power-play goals in one game, marking the first time since Feb. 15, 1975 (against Chicago) they had scored that many power-play goals in one contest.

Dec. 13/07 -- Sergei Kostitsyn and older brother Andrei become the 13th brother combination in team history to dress for a game with the Canadiens, and the first two European siblings to do so. Against Toronto two days later, the Kostitsyns became the latest brother duo to collect a point each in the same game since Patrick and Stephan Lebeau (Feb. 23, 1991 vs. Toronto).

Jan. 31/08 --
The Kostitsyns become the first pair of brothers to score a goal in the same game for Montreal since Frank and Pete Mahovlich did it: in the regular season on March 23, 1974 (vs. St. Louis) and April 14, 1974 (vs. the NY Rangers) in the playoffs.

Feb. 4/08 – The Canadiens summon G Carey Price from their Hamilton AHL team.

Feb. 26/08 – Canadiens trade G Cristobal Huet to Washington for a second-round pick in 2009.


More rings than an Olympics: Behind the Canadiens’ bench are Guy Carbonneau, who won three Stanley Cup rings as a player (two with Montreal, one with Dallas); Doug Jarvis (four rings as a player with Montreal, one more as an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars’ 1999 champion) and Kirk Muller (one ring with the 1993 Canadiens). Upstairs, GM Bob Gainey won five rings as a player with Montreal, then managed Dallas to the 1999 title.

Kovalev time: Canadiens RW Alexei Kovalev led the League in power-play points with 47. He is Montreal's first 35-goal scorer since 1995-96, when Pierre Turgeon and Vincent Damphousse tied for the team lead with 38 each. Kovalev is the fourth Russian-trained player to reach the 1,000-game milestone, following Sergei Fedorov, Alexei Zhitnik and Sergei Zubov.

The Last Time:
Muller played on the last Canadiens team to win the Stanley Cup -- and the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup.

Oh, Captain:
Today’s Canadiens are managed or coached by the men who were captains of the team from 1981-95. GM Bob Gainey was the Canadiens’ captain from 1981-89. He was replaced by a tandem of Guy Carbonneau and Chris Chelios from 1989-90, then Carbonneau went solo from 1990-94. Carbonneau was succeeded by Kirk Muller for 1994-95.

The Price Is Right: In 2006-07, Price led Canada to the gold medal at the 2007 World Junior Championships, at which he was named tournament MVP. He also was named the top goaltender in Canadian major junior hockey, captured the Calder Cup championship with the Canadiens’ AHL affiliate in Hamilton and was voted AHL playoff MVP. Since being summoned from Hamilton on Feb. 4, the 20-year-old has been a dominant factor in the Canadiens' charge to the Northeast Division title, becoming the first goaltender aged 20 or less to win 20 games in a season since Tom Barrasso and Parick Roy did it in 1985-86.

First Things First:
The Canadiens' previous first-place finish was in 1991-92, when they led the Adams Division with 93 points . . . Montreal's goal total (262) led the NHL this season and was the team's highest since it scored 265 in 1995-96 . . . Montreal reached the 100-point plateau for the first time since its 102 points in 1992-93, registered 45-or-more victories in a season for the first time since 1992-93 (48) and compiled its best record on the road (25-12-4, 54 points) since 1978-79 (23-11-6, 52 points).

Montreal led the NHL in power-play goals (90) and surrendered only three shorthanded goals -- tied with Florida for fewest.

In The Depths:
Seven Canadiens players finished the regular season with 50 points-or-more, the most scoring depth since seven Canadiens surpassed the 50-point mark in 1988-89. No other NHL team had more than six such players this season.

Coming or Going?:
Though used primarily as defensemen, both Mark Streit and Mathieu Dandenault have seen action at forward this season.


NHL Playoff Appearance: 63rd (1st since 2004)
Stanley Cups: 5 (1972, 1970, 1941, 1939, 1929)
Last Playoff Series Win: 1999 (Conference Quarter-Final vs. Carolina)
All-Time Playoff Series Record: 47-57
All-Time Playoff Game Record: 242-264-6

KEY DATES        

June 21/07 -- Claude Julien named the 28th coach in club history.

Oct. 27/07 -- The Bruins lost forward Patrice Bergeron to injury (concussion) in a game vs. Philadelphia.

Jan. 27/08 -- The Bruins sent three players to the All-Star Game - D Zdeno Chara, C Marc Savard and G Tim Thomas.

Apr. 4/08 --
The Bruins qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2004 with a 2-1 win in Ottawa.


Having a blast:
For the second straight year, D Zdeno Chara won the hardest shot competition at All-Star Weekend.  Chara shot clocked at 103.1 miles-per-hour and surpassed the 101.9 mph of runner-up Vincent Lecavalier of the Lightning.

More Chara: The Bruins' captain set new career-highs for goals (17), assists (34) and points (51) in a season in 2007-08.

Sick bay: The Bruins, with more than 360 man-games lost to injury this season, surpassed their injury total for all of last season (162 games) on Jan. 12.  Chara on the Bruins resiliency: "It’s been a tough year since the beginning.  We lost some key guys and just kept losing them and losing them. It’s part of hockey. We can’t really control the injuries. We’re just hoping that the guys will be coming back soon. At the same time, we had some guys who stepped up and filled their roles. We just replaced the skills with lots of hard work and desperation  We just wanted to win the battles and races and play desperate - every shift, every period, every game."
Sick bay 2:
The Bruins have lost one-third of their roster to injury for significant periods of time this season -- forwards Patrice Bergeron (72 games), Marc Savard (last six games of the season), Glen Murray (19) and Chuck Kobasew (8), defensemen Andrew Alberts (47) and Andrew Ference (22) and goaltender Manny Fernandez (72).

Defensive turnaround:
The Bruins made the League's second-biggest defensive turnaround from last season. The Bruins have improved their defense from 289 goals-against in  2006-07 to 222 in 2007-08, a drop of 67 goals.  Only the Flyers (down 70 goals; 303 to 233) were better.

Thomas time: After a March 20 loss to Montreal (4-2), through the Bruins' playoff-clinching 2-1 win at Ottawa on Apr. 4, the Bruins had at least a point in each of the six games G Tim Thomas started (4-0-2 record, 1.46 GAA, .947 save percentage). Thomas went 5-2-2 in his last nine starts and was 10-5-3 in his last 17 decisions to get the Bruins in the playoffs.  He allowed two-goals-or-less in 34 of his 51 complete games on the season (24-7-4 record) and has allowed just one-goal-or-less in 19 of those games (17-1-1 record).   In his 11th pro season, Thomas has played playoff games as a pro in Finland, Sweden and Providence. The soon-to-be 34 year-old (April 15), will get his first taste of Stanley Cup playoff action.

Tim Thomas on playing playoff-like games for at least a month:
  "Every game has been so important.  It’s almost like every game has been a must-win. It’s been playoff hockey for a while now. I think that will help us to hopefully be battle-tested. We’ve passed every test so far."
Finally there: C Marc Savard, who has been sidelined with a back injury since March 22, has made the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in this, his 10th NHL season.  With 659 regular-season games, Savard's wait will have been the longest in League history when he plays in his first playoff game.  Dennis Maruk, 581 games (1983); Bob Stewart, 575 (1980), and Scott Walker, 574 (2004) had the longest wait prior to Savard.  Savard:  "I get to get rid of that tag: no playoffs.  That’s pretty exciting. I’ve done well in the playoffs . . . a long time ago (in junior). So I’m as excited as anybody to get a chance. . . . This is going to be a fun time."  (In 1996-97, as junior in Oshawa, Savard {130 pts in regular-season and 37 pts. in the playoffs} beat out San Jose's Joe Thornton {122 pts.} for the regular-season OHL scoring crown and Alyn McCauley {36 pts.} for the playoff crown.)    

You've come a long way:  10 months (May 27) ago, Bruins rookie LW Milan Lucic was leading his Vancouver Giants to a Memorial Cup championship with an MVP performance.  He received a special call of congratulations from the Bruins: "I didn't know who it was. Then he said, 'Hey, it's Cam Neely calling.' I was pretty shocked. I was in awe. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life. He congratulated me for a job well done at the tournament and wished me luck for the future with the Boston Bruins."  

Lucic vs. Price: 
Boston Bruins rookie Milan Lucic, while playing for the Vancouver Giants of the WHL scored his first career hat-trick in the against Montreal's rookie goaltender Carey Price, a former goaltender for the Tri-City Americans (Nov. 24, 2006).

The Seventh Player winner:
  Milan Lucic won the the Bruins 39th Seventh Player Award due in large part to the workmanlike effort he brought every night in his rookie NHL campaign:  "They've set a certain identity of playing hard in this organization from back in the day. I can name lots of them that have played here: Cam [Neely], Ray Bourque, Terry O'Reilly. You just look up at the rafters and the numbers that are retired. All those guys played hard-nosed, in-your-face hockey. It's a successful and entertaining style."

Worth the wait:
Coach Claude Julien makes his first Stanley Cup playoff appearance since his then Montreal Canadiens were swept by Tampa Bay in the 2004 Conference Semi-Final.  His last playoff win came in Game #7 in Boston when the Canadiens completed a 3-1 series comeback with a 2-0 win on April 19.
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