Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 Preview: Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

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NHL: Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins

Jan 30, 2014: Bruins left wing Daniel Paille shoots the puck against Canadiens goalie Peter Budaj as defenseman Andrei Markov chases during the third period in Boston. The Habs won 4-1. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

In what is sure to be an epic match-up between two Eastern Conference rivals, the Boston Bruins will face the Montreal Candiens in the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Game 1 will take place tonight, May 1, in Boston.

The Bruins were this year’s winners of the President’s Trophy for having the best regular season record – owing in large part to their meteoric rise late in the season – and as such, they will have home ice advantage. However, Montreal has certainly proven to be a thorn in their side. The Habs have won six of their past seven games against the Bruins (three out of four this season). One of the more notable recent wins was decided in a shootout on March 24, when the Habs snapped the Bruins’ crazy twelve-game win streak.

Both the Bruins and the Canadiens had impressive showings in the first round of the 2014 playoffs. Each team won four consecutive games against their opponents, with the Habs sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Bruins finishing 4-1 against the Detroit Red Wings.

Without a doubt, this series will be a heated battle and is likely to go at least six, if not the full seven games. Little do the fans of each team realize or care to admit, these two teams are more similar than not. Both clubs play with a lot of grit and are not afraid to get physical, yet they are also capable of playing with ample amounts of speed and finesse. And their defensive play isn’t half bad, either: P.K. Subban of the Canadiens is the current holder of the Norris Trophy, while Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara won it in 2009 and is a current finalist for the prize this year.

Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is in goaltending. Montreal has gold-medalist Carey Price, while Boston has Vezina Trophy finalist (and bronze-medalist) Tuukka Rask. Apart from the stellar play that both demonstrated in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, in the 2013-2014 regular season, Price has a 2.32 GAA and 0.927 SV%, while Rask has a 2.04 GAA and 0.930 SV%. In the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Price registered less impressive stats (2.33 GAA and 0.904 SV%) against a faltering Tampa Bay team. Rask, on the other hand, kept soaring (1.16 GAA and 0.961 SV%) against a tough Detroit team.

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