Game Day Preview: Game 1: Habs at Bruins




Here’s some mood music for you

bruinsourfather
To the hockey icons above that look down on the Gallery Gods below – Eddie, Lionel, Bobby, Clapper, Phil, Cam, Chief, Milt, Teddy and Ray – we once again look to you to give us strength. Through your careers wearing the spoked B (or any version of the B) you’ve inspired us, brought us glory and brought us to tears. Today, a new group of Bruins will try to leave their mark on our eight-spoked heart like you’ve done so many times. The names like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Tim Thomas are known around these parts, but give them the strength that you’ve had while playing the the playoffs, in the NHL’s second season. Allow them to travel the path less traveled in Bruins hockey and may they find themselves holding Lord Stanley’s Cup in victory when it is all said and done.

After the jump, lets take a look at what the Bruins need to do to defeat the Habs in Game 1…

That quest for Cup starts tonight when the Bruins and the Canadiens meet for the 33rd time in the history of the NHL playoffs. The Canadiens have a 24-8 record against the Bruins in the playoffs, but Boston can claim that their last vicotry, a 4-0 sweep of the #8 Habs in the 2009 playoffs, has been the sweetest of them. These two teams met six times in the 2010-2011 NHL season with the Habs taking the season series 4-2. It should be noted that the three of the Habs victories came in the first three meetings, while Boston took two of the last three, including a 7-0 beating at the Boston Garden.

playoffs series
If you’re coming here looking for anti-Habs talk, you’re not going to find it. I’m focused man. This is game day, this is serious. This is everything we’ve waited for since the Bruins choked away a 3-0 lead to Philadelphia in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. When that puck drops, it’s not about Tony Marinara, 911 or diving – it’s about hockey. It’s about watching our Boston Bruins going out on the ice and playing a physical game of hockey, scoring goals and watching Tim Thomas make some incredible saves.

Game 1 sets the tone for the series and the Game 1 Preview sets the tone for us. The banter and laughing and bullshit is fun until the puck drops.

The Bruins need to win Game 1, it’s as simple as that. When a road team comes to their opponent’s building in the first round of the playoffs, the plan is to win at least one game. If the road team can split and go back home 1-1 (or even up 2-0) then the ball is sitting in their court. And it’s a medicine ball. The Bruins will need to come out from the drop of the puck and play their hockey game, which is a physical and pressure system. If they are able to pressure Carey Price early, they’ll be able to rattle his cage. They’ve done it before.

I would say the most important thing for Boston is to remain disciplined. Montreal has a very good power play and it’s given the Bruins fits before. In a 8-6 Bruins win on February 9, a game in which Tim Thomas started, the Canadiens had four power play goals. Yikes. You have to give credit where credit is due and Montreal has a good power play. You don’t have the 7th ranked power play (19.7%) in the NHL because of luck. The Canadiens are fast enough that they can out skate the slower Bruins on the man advantage (Bruins penalty kill is middle of the pack at 16 with an 82.6% success) that they can bury the puck. Unlike the Bruins power play, which sucks, the Canadiens do more than go D-to-D.

In fact, I would say the Canadiens have the advantages on all special teams. The Bruins power play isn’t good (16.2%, 20th overall in the NHL) and the Canadiens boast a top 10 penalty kill. (84.4%, 7th overall).

So in the end, if the Bruins want to win this game – stay even strength. The Bruins have a top five offense (2.98 goals per game, 5th in the NHL) and have the second best rated goals against average (2.30, 2nd in the NHL). It would (big word warning) behoove them to play to their strengths, which isn’t on special teams or trying to outskate the Canadiens.

I also want to make this known. If people boo the Canadian National Anthem (an anthem I absolutely adore), you’re just as bad as the Canadiens fans who booed our National Anthem a few years ago. Be above that.

TIME TO GO!!

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