By Stevo, AllHabs.net
MONTREAL, QC. — The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins will once again face off in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, beginning this Thursday, April 14 2011. The playoff history between both of these teams is best summarized as follows, taken from ourhistory.canadiens.com:
“The Boston-Montreal rivalry is particularly strong in the postseason, as the Canadiens have emerged victorious in 24 of the 32 series. From 1946 to 1987, the Habs won all 18 playoff series between the two bitter opponents.
During this sequence, the Canadiens collected six Stanley Cups at the hands of the Bruins, but Boston has never been able to return the favor.
The Bruins enjoyed more success in the early 1990s, winning five series over the Habs in six seasons. Since then, Montreal has found its way back on top, offing Boston in three of the last four series.”
The six-game series between both of these teams, this season, has produced enough material to create a soap opera and then some. It is most notably remembered for the the numerous fights which erupted in the closing minutes of game four, and eventually the all too famous now “Chara incident”, where Max Pacioretty was sent head first into the Bell Centre stanchion. To this day, only the stanchion has received any official blame for the incident, and has since been… optimized? Let’s just say the padding is thicker. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget, the Habs won the season series four games to two.
Let’s look back at how both teams respectively did this season:
|Regular Season Comparison|
The Bruins and the Canadiens weren’t that far apart down the stretch, but the end result is that by finishing ahead, the Bruins were able to get the ever so important home ice advantage for this first round of playoffs. Both teams have comparable records both home and away, Habs with the slight advantage at home, vs the Bruins on the road.
The biggest difference comes at the hand of goal differential. The Bruins scored 246 goals this season, while giving up 195, giving them a goal differential of +51.
The Habs on the other hand scored a total of 216 goals this season (30 less than the Bruins), while giving up 209 (14 more than the Bruins), giving them a differential of +7.
It’s been no surprise all season that the Habs are simply not dominant on offense. Although James Wisniewski have a tremendous season offensively with his 51 points, but you never want to see a defenseman as your second overall pointer.
When you look at how the Bruins top-five scorers matchup to the those of the Habs, their situation has not been all that different, goal scoring wise at least. The Bruins top five pointers have 35 more points than those of the Habs (282 vs 247), however if you look at goals alone, the Bruins only have five more than the Habs (105 vs 100).
This shows that the depth of the Bruins has been a key to their success on offense this season because after all, they did finish 5th overall this season in goals per game, with an average of 2.98, compared to the average of 2.60 held by the Habs, which ranked them 23rd overall.
When it comes to five-on-five scoring, the Bruins ranked 1st overall this season with 177 goals, 40 more than the Habs who were 26th overall this season in this category with 137 goals.
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If the Habs have a clear edge in any category going into this series, it’s special teams. What’s even more impressive is how great their special teams are on the road and this could be a key factor in the outcome of this series.
The Habs had the 7th best power play this season, with an average of 19.7%, but were at 20% on the road ranking them 5th in the league. The Bruins on the other hand had the 20th best power play overall at 16.2%, and did not rank in the top 10 either at home or on the road.
As for the penalty killing, the Habs were 7th best in the league overall with an 84.4% average, and ranked 1st on the road at 85.7%. The Bruins in comparison had the 16th best P.K. in this season, averaging 82.6%, and were an admirable 8th best on the road this season at 83.6%.
When it comes to penalties in general, the Bruins had the 8th most penalty minutes per game this season averaging 13.6 minutes per game, but the Habs were not far behind as they finished 10th with an average of 13.4 minutes per game.
What’s most interesting is that the Habs were 2nd overall in minor penalty calls, receiving 363 minor penalty calls this season, while the Bruins were 25th overall in this category only receiving 292 minor penalty calls this season.
The tables are turned when it comes to major penalties however, the Bruins have more than double the number the Habs have (73 vs 35). That puts the Bruins 3rd and the Habs 19th.
If both goaltenders play like they have this season, it should be low goal scoring series as both goaltenders have put up stellar numbers.
Although Price had a much heavier workload than Thomas did this season, and although you could argue that Thomas played in front of a better team, with a better offense, and not injury plagued defense, the fact remains that Thomas’ 2.00 goals against average, 0.938 save percentage and nine shutouts should allow him to capture the Vezina trophy.
That doesn’t go without saying that Price had a tremendous season, especially with the pressure he was facing being chosen to lead the team, after he was relegated to the role of backup last season in the playoffs.
It’s clear that overall, the Bruins have the edge. It’s been said over and over again but it is true that the size factor simply does not play into the favor of the Canadiens. A player like Milan Lucic is a prime example, a big power forward who can rough it up when needed, had nine points this season against the Canadiens (4 goals, 5 assists).
Other players like Patrice Bergeren (2 goals, 5 assists), Nathan Horton (3 goals, 4 assists) and David Krejci (7 assists) also have also consistently played well against the Habs this season all picking up 7 points a piece.
As for the Habs, Brian Gionta (5 goals, 1 assist) and Max Pacioretty (4 goals, 2 assists) were the top point getters this season against the Bruins, each picking up six points, it should be noted that Gionta scored in every single game against the Bruins this season, with the exception of the final game which ended in a shutout by the Bruins.
Otherwise, Gomez has had some success against the Bruins this season, having a total of five points (2 goals, 3 assists).
There’s a lot of history between these teams, but the more recent history is that which they will all have in mind going in into this series. There’s bad blood between these teams, no doubt about it, and neither team wants to lose this series. Major bragging rights up for grabs.
|Super Hero Matchup|
The Beantown Brute.