I HATE THE CANADIENS, and I want you to hate the Candiens too. And when you hit your knees at night, I want you to ask God to hate the Montreal Canadiens (Thank you Brian Piccilo). They bitch, they moan, they whine, and most importantly they literally call 9-1-1 on one of your players because of an accidental (I think) hit. Seriously, for those of you who don’t know, there were Canadiens fans literally calling 9-1-1 to have the police waiting for Zdeno Chara after his hit on Max Pacioretti (see below).
Canadiens fans are the worst kind of people in all of sports and their players are even worse. Nowhere else can you see a whole stadium stand up in unison whenever a player falls down to bitch that there was no call made. It’s even worse when that said player completely dove to get a call. Watch one game and it will be laden with Canadien players pleading to the ref for a penalty call, and diving anytime there is even a little bit of contact. Not to mention cheap shots galore! They are hypocritical babies who deserve every little bit of pain they endure in this upcoming series. I literally have never hated a major league franchise more and I am getting fired up just writing about it. And the worst part is it fires up the Bruins just as much; so much so that often they don’t play controlled Bruins hockey which is just what the Habs want. The Bruins second original six matchups in as many opportunities, and a rivalry that has lived to see its’ now league-record 34th playoff series in this storied history, is literally Christmas come early (and for you Jews, or half Jews like me, it’s Hanukkah, Passover, and Yam Kippur all in one baby). This is the holy grail of NHL matchups. This brings friends together and ruins marriages. This is what playoff hockey is all about. HALLELUJAH!!!!
After a tough series loss to the Bruins in 2011, in which the Canadiens went up 2-0 and went back to their home ice and dropped the next 3 in overtime, this year things are ready to erupt. This is going to be a savage series full of nonstop outrage. Let’s take a look at the makeup of these teams and how this series is going to play out, shall we?
This is an awesome matchup in terms of netminders. In the past it was quite easy to chirp Carey Price because A. he has a girls name and B. because he never wins anything when the pressure is on. However, he just came off a pretty impressive Olympic bout where he played well under pressure leading to a Gold Medal. Price boasted a .927 save percentage, which was tied for third in the NHL. On the same note, Tuukka Rask maintained a .930 save percentage good for number one of starting goaltenders this year. If there is a goaltender left in the Eastern Conference who has any potential to match Tuukka’s level of play it is Carey Price, however I believe it is unlikely he does so. Tuukka is just too strong, too composed, and too good. I give the edge to the Bruins here, as I will in every series (he is the front runner for the Vezina this year).
(Note: the Habs haven't won a cup since the draft changes and expansion 21 years ago)
The Canadiens have a very strong offensive attack, one of which is only going to get stronger as the series progresses when they get reinforcements from injured players. Just like Zetteberg in the Red Wings series, the Bruins are going to run into strong offensive returns in this round. The Canadiens for the first time in a long time have the ability to confidently roll out four lines throughout the series just like the Bruins. The only difference is that all four lines are not as good; even if the Canadiens fourth line average more ice time in their first series than the Bruins’ did. The Canadiens for the most part are a smaller team, but they are skillful and really know how to get under the skin of the Bruins. Below are the likely lines for each team:
The only two changes that you could possibly see here are the return of Alex Galchenyuk taking over the left-wing position of the Plekanec line, and Travis Moen, a more experienced bigger player, taking over 21-year old Michael Bourinval’s spot.
The changes we may see here would be with returns from Danielle Paille and Chris Kelly. Caron has been filling in during Paille’s absence and scored in the first series. The same is said for Florek replacing Kelly. The Paille return is more realistic than Kelly’s it seems at this point, but I think if all was said and done we would see Florek taken out of the lineup before Caron.
Overall, both of these teams are incredibly deep and threatening. Both teams being able to roll out four competitive lines at any time is going to make this series an absolute war. I would honestly say the offensive prowess of both teams is even keel at this point, and I’m going to give this a draw.
The Bruins should not let the weak defensive pressure from the Detroit Red Wings break their focus, because the Canadiens defense is for real. These are the pairs Montreal used versus Tampa Bay:
Markov - Emelin
Gorges - Subban
Bouillon – Weaver
These line pairs are no joke. Markov is the horse, and Emelin is a feisty bruiser who has had a number of run-ins with Lucic. Subban is a major weapon for the Habs on the back end, and he led Montreal with five assists in the first round. The return of Gorges from his hand injury is huge for Montreal because it allows Subban to play his game, which is often offensively minded. I think for the first time in a long time, the Bruins are going to miss the likes of Dennis Seidenberg. Although their defense is still deep, having another strong veteran presence on defense could only prove to be beneficial for the B’s. In order for the Bruins to fend off the Hab attack, Dougie Hamilton is going to have to put in another valiant effort. Hamilton is a formidable blue liner who has the ability to score, but his focus needs to be on defense in this series while letting defensive teammates like Krug and Bartkowski be the ones who create some offensive pressure. The Monster (as Canadiens fans call him after his hit on Pacioretti) that is Zdeno Chara as always will be a centerpiece to the Bruins success in this series. Advantage here I believe goes to the Canadiens. I think thay even with Boychuck and Chara the Habs have a slight edge due to their experience and skill. However, I only think this is true if we look at defensive pairs. Total team defensive effort on all ends of the ice with the play of Krejci and Bergeron definitely gives the Bruins an overall defensive edge.
Top 5 Players to Watch in this Series-
1. Brad Marchand
I don’t know if you can even say he is snake bitten moreso than just plain terrible lately. After those two terrible open net misses in game 4 Marchand needs to get going early in this series for those memories not to fester. Marchand is an easily agitated type player who could lose his nerves in this series if he lets Montreal get the best of him.
2. Thomas Vanek
A known Bruins-killer. Vanek was scooped up at the trade deadline likely with this meeting in mind. In 55 career regular-season games against the Bruins, Vanek has 30 goals and 32 assists for 62 points. He has two goals and an assist for three points in three postseason games against the B's. This guy is quickly becoming enemy number 1.
3. Carl “The One-Eyed Swede” Soderberg
Soderberg, who is affectionately called “The One-Eyed Swede” due to his terrible eye injury back in 2007 had an unbelievable first career playoff series. Soderberg is blind in one eye, but the way he has been playing recently you would never know it. He has quickly become my favorite player on the Boston Bruins. This dude plays balls to the wall 24/7 and controls the puck with the same finesse as Jamir Jagr-The International Man of Mystery. But seriously, this kid came to play and look for him to have a huge impact on this series.
4. P.K. Subban
With little brother Malcolm slowly being groomed in the Bruins farm system, P.K. has made a name for himself in the NHL. If he wasn’t a Hab I’d probably love this guy, but since he is I hate him even more. This guy is a threat on both ends of the ice and can really change the complexion of a game. He has been known to give the Bruins trouble in the past and if the Canadiens stand a chance they will have to play great on special teams. An area of hockey in which Subban thrives.
5. Loui Eriksson
I’m sticking with my man! Give me that Loui baby! Huge goal in game 5 of the first round and he is just going to roll with it. After all this talk coming out about how we should’ve kept Tyler Seguin there has never been a better time for Loui to shut up the critics. Let’s go Loui your time to shine! (Plus he could give a mustache ride with the best of ‘em).
Well there it is folks. This is going to be a battle, and truly there was no way to sum this up in short. Be ready for blood. Be ready for hate. Be ready to want to disown the entire country of Canada. BE READY FOR WAR!
PREDICTION- BRUINS IN 7 (MAN I HOPE THIS GOES 7)