His franchise has won just eight of the previous 32 playoff series against Montreal and his current club has won just three of the last 12 regular-seasons meetings with the Canadiens, but Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli welcomes the challenge of taking on the Habs once again to open this year's postseason.
"We look forward to playing the Canadiens," Chiarelli said in a conference call Monday afternoon. "They're a very quick team. They've got some good shooters. Obviously they have a very good goaltender. I think it's going to be a really good series."
The Bruins did sweep Montreal in their last playoff encounter two years ago and have won two of the last three clashes this season, including a resounding 7-0 rout in their most recent meeting at the Garden on March 24.
That game followed an 8-6 win on Feb. 9 highlighted by 182 combined penalty minutes and six fights, including a rare bout between goalies Tim Thomas and Carey Price. The Canadiens did win 4-1 in Montreal on March 8, a game remembered mostly for Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty, but the Habs showed little fight, figuratively or literally, in the final rematch.
Chiarelli expects a better showing from the Canadiens in the playoffs, but he is also confident the Bruins will raise their level of play and try to impose the kind of game Boston prefers on the smaller Montreal lineup.
"[It's] two contrasting styles of play," Chiarelli said. "We're straight line, forecheck, heavy on the puck. They're fast, quick transition, 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 Bruins also appear much better prepared for this matchup than they were in that loss in Montreal just over a month ago. That was part of a 1-3-3 slump that culminated in an embarrassing 5-2 loss to the lowly Leafs on March 19. That defeat may have been the wakeup call Boston needed, as the Bruins have been on an impressive roll since.
"From the Toronto game in Toronto that we loss, it was incumbent on us to really get the team in a proper frame of mind as you roll into the playoffs," Chiarelli said. "Since that point we've been 7-3-1. I'm optimistic about some of the areas that we've shored up in that time and the mind frame of the team.
"Overall I'm happy with where we're at right now, and the experience that we've had in the past will help us as we move into the playoffs," Chiarelli added.
Experience and proper frame of mind aren't two terms that necessarily go together when it comes to recent playoff history for the Bruins. Chiarelli acknowledged the elephant in the room during Monday's call, stating that the club has been looking to redeem itself for last year's playoff collapse against Philadelphia all season.
"We entered this year coming off that disappointing end against Philadelphia and that's been an underlying theme of the year, to be able to respond, to be able to build from that," Chiarelli said of the Bruins' squandering of a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers in the second round last spring. "The obvious answer is to get past the second round, but it's more than that. It's about how we play. It's about how we compete. There's a lot of variables that go into a playoff run, and I expect us to have a successful one."
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