Latest Installment of Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry Could Be Most Intense Chapter Yet


April 13, 2011

Latest Installment of Bruins-Canadiens Rivalry Could Be Most Intense Chapter Yet Thursday night will begin the most hyped and anticipated opening-round playoff series in the NHL. The Bruins versus the Canadiens has all the makings to be must-see TV.

Given the history between these two hated rivals, it's safe to say that Hollywood film directors will be chasing the series, one game at a time. There are just too many good underlying storylines that make the product on the ice an afterthought.

That is, to everyone except the players themselves.

In a conference call with the media on Monday, general manager Peter Chiarelli said he expects the Bruins to come out determined.

"Obviously there is a lot of emotion in this series from both teams, based on the historic nature of the rivalry, based on the recent history of the rivalry," Chiarelli said. "There has obviously been well-publicized stuff between the two teams. I know that our team will be emotionally motivated also for a number of reasons, and we look forward to playing the Canadiens."

What the GM failed to add at the end of his sentence was "in our building." The scheduled Games 3 and 4 (and possibly Game 6) at the Bell Centre will be arguably the most uncomfortable games the boys in the Black and Gold have ever experienced.

There remains an open police investigation in Montreal into the hit Zdeno Chara delivered to Max Pacioretty on March 8. The Bruins' playoff games north of the border will mark their first trip to Quebec since that injury to the Habs forward.

But according to Chiarelli, there will be no summons of Chara for questioning by the police. Just a little extra spark to the already-wild rivalry.

"I expect there to be obviously a heightened sense of emotion from the media, from the fans, from just people walking around the city," Chiarelli said. "You've seen how emotional it gets up there, so I think there will be a bit of a frenzy. So we're preparing for it and whatever happens, we'll deal with it."

The Canadiens will not have to deal with half of the nonsense that the Bruins will have to deal with in their barn. Boston fans can be ruthless, but at last check, there's no paperwork in the Boston Police Department for any members of the Canadiens organization.

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley said that "attitude" is going to determine the outcome of the series. And a lot of that will depend on how easily the Bruins can silence the media frenzy in Montreal in what is sure to be a larger-than-usual contingent of reporters — even for the renewal of one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.

The Bruins' composure to take each playoff game one at a time, stick to their game plan of being a balanced, four-line attack with solid defensive structure and rely on the outstanding goaltending of Vezina hopeful Tim Thomas will propel them to round two. Anything short of this will mean another early exit.

And we all remember too well what happened the last time.

For the Bruins, this series will be about focusing on minimizing Montreal's strengths, which are plentiful, according to Chiarelli.
"They're a very quick team," he said. "They've got some good shooters. Obviously they've got a good goaltender [Carey Price], and I think this is going to be a really good series. Two contrasting styles of play: We're straight-line, forecheck, heavy on the puck. They're fast, quick transition, again with some good shooters. So it really will be a good series. I'm looking forward to it. I know the team is looking forward to it."

The Stanley Cup playoffs get under way for Boston fans on Thursday night at the TD Garden. Here's hoping for a very long spring.

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