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Playoff rivalry renews as Bruins host Canadiens

by Shawn P. Roarke
CANADIENS (44-30-8) at BRUINS (46-25-11)


Last 10:
Montreal 5-4-1; Boston 6-3-1

Season series: Montreal won four of the six games, although one win came in overtime. Boston was 2-1 against Montreal at TD Garden and won the final meeting of the season 7-0 on March 24.

Big story: These teams simply don’t like each other, and they have had a lot of time to build up some enmity. Not only do they now play six times a year as division rivals, but they have met 32 previous times in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with Montreal holding a 24-8 advantage.

The Bruins, though, believe they can take this series. Not only are they the higher seed and the division champions, but they easily dispatched the Canadiens the last time these teams met, in the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. Boston swept the series and outscored Montreal 17-6.

"I think everybody knows what is at stake here," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think we've got a pretty good team that we certainly feel can compete for the Stanley Cup, and that hasn't changed either."

Team Scope:

Canadiens: Montreal is back in the playoffs just a year removed from its miracle run to the Eastern Conference Finals from the No. 8 seed. In that run, the Canadiens knocked off both top seed Washington and No. 2 seed Pittsburgh. So they are confident they can pull the upset again.

If they do, though, it will be with a different goalie. Jaroslav Halak, last year’s hero, is long gone and Carey Price now has to be the man, something his regular-season numbers suggest is a good possibility.

"I'll just keep doing what I've been doing all season," Price said. "It's not just me out there, there's the other guys, too."

The time is now for Boston, which has not won a Cup since 1972 and bombed out of the playoffs in stunning fashion last season, blowing a three-games-to-none lead to Philadelphia in the second round.

"We want to win," said Patrice Bergeron, Boston's alternate captain. "We want to come out of this series with four wins, the same thing Montreal wants to do. I think it's going to be a tough series, could be a long series, you never know. We're ready for everything and at the same time, at the end of the day we want to win."

Who's hot: Boston's Nathan Horton, who will be making his first playoff appearance, has 6 goals in the past 10 games. Tim Thomas set a new League record for save percentage in a season, posting a .938 mark. … Montreal's Michael Cammalleri, the offensive hero from last year's run, is getting hot again. In his past six games, he has posted 3 goals and 3 assists.

Injury report: Montreal announced Tuesday that forward Max Pacioretty will not return during the first-round series. Jeff Halpern, who has not played since March 30, has been practicing with the club and could be back soon.

Stat pack:
The Bruins and Canadiens have met more times in postseason play than any other two NHL opponents with 32 playoff series in these teams' histories. The Detroit Red Wings vs. Toronto Maple Leafs matchup is the second most popular playoff rivalry with 23 series between those two teams entering this postseason. Eleven NHL teams have not even played 32 playoff series yet in their histories. … The Bruins took the Canadiens to seven games in their 2008 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series after trailing in the series, three games to one. It was the first time in their playoff history that they had forced a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 and was also the first time in Montreal's playoff history that they were taken to a Game 7 after leading a series 3-1.
Puck drop: "At the end of the day, when the puck is dropped, (the players) are the ones performing. So I'm not putting all the onus on them, but I am saying this is where good playoff teams and teams that win … you've heard it all along, players really have to have the right mindset. I feel our team does and now it is up to us to show it and prove it." -- Bruins coach Claude Julien

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