Boston Bruins v Montreal Canadiens

Get your game notes: Canadiens at Bruins

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Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Montreal Canadiens starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:

• Tonight marks the start of the 34th all-time playoff series and the 171st all-time playoff game between Montreal and Boston. The Bruins had the slight edge between the Original Six clubs in the early years, before the Canadiens rattled off 18 straight series wins over 41 years (1946-1987). Since 1988, when the Bruins finally broke through again, Boston has won seven of the 11 series.

• The Canadiens return to competition after sweeping Tampa Bay nine days ago (Apr. 22). It was the Habs’ 22nd sweep in a best-of-seven series in franchise history and first since 1993, the year they went on to win their 24th (and most recent) Stanley Cup title.

• Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask, who leads the NHL this postseason in GAA (1.16) and save% (.961), will be starting his first-career playoff game vs. the Canadiens. The Vezina Trophy finalist has struggled vs. Montreal during his regular-season career, going 3-10-3 in 17 appearances (one no-decision), with a 2.63 GAA, .908 save% and one shutout. He has never beaten the Habs at TD Garden (0-4-3, 3.35 GAA, .833 save%).

• Boston allowed a league-low 1.20 goals/game in their first-round, five-game series win vs. Detroit. The six goals allowed by Rask and the Bruins were the fewest allowed by the club in a series going five or more games since the 1939 Stanley Cup vs. Toronto (also six goals in five games). In their last 10 playoff games vs. Eastern Conf. opponents dating back to last season (Gm. 5 vs. NYR, Gms. 1-4 vs. PIT, Gms. 1-5 vs. DET), they allowed only nine goals.

• In the first round, Montreal led all playoff teams with 4.00 goals/game, but none of their 16 goals came from defensemen. The Canadiens averaged 34.5 shots/game, but no Habs defenseman had more than nine shots on goal (P.K. Subban). The Bruins scored 2.80 goals/game in the first round; four of their 14 goals came from their blueline (Zdeno Chara – 2, Torey Krug, Dougie Hamilton).

• Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher (3-2–5) enters tonight’s game with points in all four games this postseason and goals in his last three games. Gallagher became the third-ever Montreal player age 21 or younger to score in at least three straight playoff games in one series (Steve Shutt, Games 1-4 vs. NYR, 1974; and Shayne Corson, Games 5-7, 1987 vs. Quebec). Elias Sports Bureau

• Bruins winger Jarome Iginla, who scored the OT game-winner in Game 4 and the series-clincher on an empty-net goal in Game 5, will be playing in his 75th playoff game tonight. Iginla has now suited up in 1,384 NHL games (1,310 regular season, 74 playoff), the most among all active players who have never won the Stanley Cup.

• Bruins coach Claude Julien will be behind the bench for his third postseason series involving these two teams. Each of the previous series went seven games, and he was on the winning side in both of them, for Montreal in the 2004 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals and Boston in the 2011 Eastern Conf. Quarterfinals. That 2011 Bruins side went on to win the franchise’s sixth Stanley Cup.

PHT Morning Skate: Bruins-Canadiens kick off Round 2

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins
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If you thought there was going to be a night off to get ready for the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, you’re sorely mistaken.

After last night’s Game 7 tripleheader, action moves to Boston where the Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will meet for the 34th time in playoff history. You can virtually throw out everything you know about both teams when these two meet up because the playoffs are an entirely different animal.

Game 1: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Bruins may have won the Presidents’ Trophy, but the one team that remained a burr in their side in the regular season was the Canadiens. Montreal went 3-1-0 against Boston this season with the Habs winning a pair of games 2-1, one in overtime, and each team taking a 4-1 victory on the other’s home ice.

Like we said, throw out everything you know coming into the series.

Each team has strengths in each area, but the one that might be the closest comes in goal. Carey Price had an outstanding season and Tuukka Rask is a Vezina Trophy finalist. Price was likely close to finishing in the Top 3 there but was edged out by Ben Bishop.

On defense, Zdeno Chara is the be-all, end-all of blue liners, but P.K. Subban was such a vital cog in helping the Canadiens sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning out of the postseason. The Bruins are all too familiar with how Subban plays and we’ll likely see him have more than his fair share of run-ins with Brad Marchand.

Up front, Patrice Bergeron has become the straw that stirs the drink on both ends of the ice for Boston. He can score goals and he can help shut down whoever he’s lined up against. He’s likely going to see a lot of either Tomas Plekanec or David Desharnais’ line, or just whatever line Thomas Vanek is on.

In Vanek’s career he scored most of his points against the Bruins with 30 goals and 62 points in 55 games. For people who like to point out those aren’t playoff numbers, Vanek had two goals and an assist in three games against Boston in 2010 before his ankle was injured by Johnny Boychuk.

Nope, no potential story lines in this series at all.

Bruins’ Julien says he ‘hates’ Montreal now that he’s in Boston

Detroit Red Wings v Boston Bruins - Game One
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Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien’s first head coaching gig came with the Montreal Canadiens, but being on the other end of that rivalry for seven seasons has made his allegiances pretty clear.

His quote to CSNNE.com could be used as bulletin board material if Habs head coach Michel Therrien is really reaching, even if it’s clear that Julien was having fun with the rivalry talk.

“I hated Boston when I was in Montreal, and I hate Montreal now that I’m in Boston,” Julien said with what CSNNE.com described as a wry smile. “You know this is the kind of series where you won’t need to give the players a pep talk, but instead you’ll send a message about managing emotions.”

No doubt about it, the latest installment of one of the NHL’s most storied rivalries should be a lot of fun. Julien seems hopeful that he can channel that hostility in the right direction.

In case you’re wondering, the NHL announced that Game 1 of this series will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday in Boston.

PHT Morning Skate: Canadiens aiming to sweep Lightning

Rene Bourque, Brian Gionta, Matthew Carle,
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Four games hit the ice tonight and there’s a chance we see one series come to an end. The Montreal Canadiens have a 3-0 lead on the Tampa Bay Lightning and have a chance to finish off the series on home ice.

Out west, the San Jose Sharks have the opportunity to take a commanding 3-0 lead as that series shifts to Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Kings have owned the Sharks on their turf, however, and will need to do the same to get back into the series. The two series that are knotted at 1-1 also move to new locations for Game 3 with the Red Wings hosting the Bruins and the Flyers hosting the Rangers.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Tuesday night’s NHL games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Tuesday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 4: Montreal Canadiens vs. Tampa Bay Lightning [Montreal leads series 3-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — NHL Network)

It’s now or never again this season for the Lightning as they must win to stay alive. At the very least they’ll have captain Steven Stamkos available to them, but with the way the Canadiens have put the full-on blitz on the Lightning he hasn’t been able to carry the whole team.

Instead, the Habs have brought attacks from P.K. Subban and Rene Bourque all while Carey Price has stood tall in goal. Look for Montreal to continue bringing the pressure and force the Lightning back on their heels and the raucous crowd at Bell Centre to try and turn the tide once again.

Game 3: Detroit Red Wings vs. Boston Bruins [Series tied 1-1] (7:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The first two games of this series saw each team get under the other’s skin by just going about things they way they usually do. The Wings used high pressure and puck possession to frustrate the Bruins, where in Game 2 the Bruins stepped up the physical play and got the Red Wings to play into their games.

So just how does it go in Game 3? Jimmy Howard will have to bear down after getting a full-scale blitz by the B’s in Game 2 and Detroit will have to find ways to slow down the Bruins top line of Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Jarome Iginla. Steering clear of Zdeno Chara might be a good idea as well. Look for Mike Babcock to find ways to get Pavel Datsyuk away from him.

source: Getty ImagesGame 3: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers [Series tied 1-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — CNBC)

Perhaps the most interesting player for the Flyers in this series is Ray Emery. He wasn’t supposed to be the starter in the postseason, but after Steve Mason’s injury, here he is playing very well and perhaps the reason the Flyers took Game 2. Sure Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux are doing their thing, but it’s Emery with the stability in goal.

The trick for the Rangers in Game 3 is finding an effective way to crack through Emery. The early part of Game 2 seemed to show they’d found their niche, but after a couple of early goals the offense disappeared and Emery got hot. New York will need a classic big road game out of Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Martin St. Louis while Henrik Lundqvist reasserts himself as the King.

Game 3: Los Angeles Kings vs. San Jose Sharks [San Jose leads series 2-0] (10:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

It’s been a bad series for Jonathan Quick. He’s allowed more goals in two games in these playoffs than he allowed to the Sharks in seven games last season. Poor play from him and the rest of the Kings defense has them down 2-0, but with how they’ve owned the Sharks in L.A., you get the feeling this series is far from over.

That said, the Kings have to find some way to slow down the Sharks. Speed is killing L.A. and guys like Patrick Marleau, Joe Pavelski, and Logan Couture are taking full advantage of that. Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty were getting talked up for NHL Awards this season and they’re going to need to prove why starting tonight.

Canadiens push Lightning to brink of elimination with 3-2 win

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens - Game Three
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One can debate whether the Tampa Bay Lightning are victims of bad luck, but there’s no denying that their season is now on the line. The Montreal Canadiens won Game 3 by a score of 3-2 on Sunday, giving themselves a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

It looked like Anders Lindback would be an albatross in this one, as Rene Bourque (who had an excellent game overall) scored 11 seconds in:

As it turns out, Lindback was often excellent on Sunday, but his adamant effort wasn’t enough tonight.

Speaking of admirable hard work still falling short, Steven Stamkos shook off a scary spill in the second period to play – and even generate an assist – in the final frame. He finished the night with helpers on both Lightning goals. Here’s one more look at that scary fall:

It’s easy to gravitate toward the Lightning’s lousy luck, especially considering this disallowed goal:

Still, that takes a lot of the deserved credit from the Habs, who are one win away from some rest and a sweep. P.K. Subban stood out along with Bourque, dazzling with this assist on Brendan Gallagher’s goal:

Tomas Plekanec ended up notching the game-winner with an assist from Gallagher.

For all the adversity the Lightning have fought off in the regular season, they now need to win four games in a row to avoid a first-round exit. The odds certainly look long right now – especially if Stamkos can’t play once the adrenaline wears off – as they’ll attempt to salvage their season beginning with Game 4 on Tuesday.