BOSTON -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was furious throughout this Eastern Conference Second Round series with the way he felt the Boston Bruins were disrespecting him, his teammates and his organization.
Subban let his sublime play do the talking for seven games. When it was over, and the Canadiens were still standing after a 3-1 win in Game 7 at TD Garden on Wednesday, he let loose.
Defense - MTL
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 12
SOG: 26 | +/-: 2
"I think at some point a lot of people were saying, 'Don't poke the bear,' " Subban said. "Well, I thought they gave us many reasons to keep competing throughout the series."
Subban wouldn't dive into the details of what he was referring to, but Canadiens forward Danny Briere offered them up as proof that Subban wasn't alone in how he felt.
Briere mentioned Brad Marchand tossing Brendan Gallagher's helmet across the ice in Game 4. He brought up Milan Lucic flexing his muscles at Subban in the second period of Game 5, followed by Shawn Thornton's infamous water-bottle squirt at Subban in the final minute of regulation.
Briere also talked about the end of Game 6, when Zdeno Chara, Jarome Iginla and Lucic went after Canadiens defenseman Mike Weaver.
"We obviously felt a little disrespected by the Bruins at times with their antics throughout the series," Briere said. "Those are all little things that we tried to use to our advantage. It's not a big deal, we just used it to our advantage. That's all we did."
For their part, the Bruins don't feel they did anything on purpose to disrespect the Canadiens.
"There's a rivalry here … we don't like each other because it's a rivalry," Bruins coach Claude Julien said.
Julien referenced the Bruins' pounding their chests throughout the series, but said it's related to the "Boston Strong" mentality that has been a part of the city since the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon last year.
"Our guys take some pride in what's happened in 'Boston Strong,' and unfortunately everything we did seemed to be seen as disrespect in Montreal," Julien said. "And we heard a lot of whining in terms of the series, but it had nothing to do with disrespect. Whether it's flexing a muscle, that's gamesmanship. It's like that in every round. So it's too bad it gets blown out of proportion, but you know what? They won the series fair and square. They were the better team [Wednesday night] and you have to respect that. So it's up to us to move on, and them to keep moving toward their goal."
That's the part that had Subban talking so much about respect after the game.
He said this win against the Bruins, in Game 7, in TD Garden, demands respect, not just from the Bruins, but the entire NHL community.
"Before the series, everybody was looking at them as a team that has all the experience and has two big lines and guys who have won Norris Trophies and Selke nominees, who are great players," Subban said of the Bruins. "But we have some good players on our team as well, guys who are great hockey players, who are driven and ready to compete at this level and at the highest stage. Maybe we had to do something like this to earn that respect, but I think it's just been a long time coming for our team and maybe a coming out party for our team."
His teammates have his back on this one.
"I think as the series went on, our motivation grew," Canadiens forward Dale Weise said. "They just disrespected us in every single way. I didn't think they had any respect for us as a team."
Added goalie Carey Price: "I think respect comes with winning, there's no question about it. That's a really good hockey team over there. They're hard to beat. But when you do beat a team like this, I definitely think you earn a little bit of respect."
It's even sweeter when that respect is earned after a win in the home city of your biggest rival, in a Game 7 to boot.
"They're a classy organization, but they gave us a lot of reasons to compete a little bit harder and to make sure we were winning battles," Subban said. "I know I'm a guy that feeds off of that, and I know we have a bunch of guys in here that feed off of that as well. When you mix that with the loss that we had last time in Game 7 [in 2011], it's a pretty lethal weapon to have when you're coming into this building. Like I said, there's nothing better than shutting up everybody here."