Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens Playoff Preview

Posted by Neil in Boston Bruins,Columns,Montreal Canadiens on April 13, 2009 — 1 Comment

For the 200 billionth time, the Montreal Canadiens will be facing the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs. This year, a role-reversal has taken place, where the Bruins are the #1 seed, and the Habs #8. With the Habs’ season almost ending without a playoff berth, many are assuming that the Bruins should have an easy time quickly disposing of the most storied NHL franchise. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

Forwards:

Up front, the Bruins have unparalleled depth at the pivot position. Their top three centres include Savard, Krejci, and Bergeon, while the Habs have an aging Koivu, the inconsistent Plekanec, and… that’s about it. The x-factor among Hab forwards will be Alex Kovalev. Which Kovalev will show up exactly? The Kovalev who has been a dominant force during previous post-season runs, or the one who exaggerated being slashed on his hand, coughed up the puck, and allowed Glen Murray to score an uncontested goal during overtime? With other offensive power coming from Kessel, Ryder, Recchi, Wheeler, and Lucic, the Bruins have the edge in the scoring department.  Tanguay and the Kostitsyn boys are good, but not great.

Edge: Bruins

Defense:

On defense, the Bruins boast a solid top group in Chara and Wideman, but nothing too spectacular after these two. For the Habs, Komisarek, Hamrlik, Schneider, Bouillon, and Gorges are probably better defensively overall, but not offensively. The loss of Markov absolutely kills the Habs’ powerplay, somewhere the Bruins have an edge from the back end.

Edge: Habs

Goaltending:

Between the pipes lies an interesting storyline. On one hand you have an older, extremely dedicated Vezina candidate, just starting to make a name for himself. On the other hand, you have a young, over-confident player that may have been rushed into the spotlight too early and calls smoking five cigarettes at one time a hobby. At the moment, the Bruins’ Thomas has the edge, but the tide could turn if Price gets hot.

Edge: Bruins

Prediction:

Overall, the Bruins’ offense (especially on the power play), should be the difference maker.  As we all know, special teams is always of upmost importance come playoff time.  The Habs may have a chance if Price catches fire and steals the series, but the likely outcome will be the B’s heading to the second round and Price heading to Crescent St. for a smoke.

Bruins in 6.

  • Bob Roberts

    I think Krejci is feeling the long season and has faded somewhat, or he might be hurting. He’s lost the quickness in his moves, and I think his teammates are covering for him. A couple of times in the past week or two he’s taken a dubious-quality hit and Chara, Thornton and Co. have jumped in VERY fast. That makes me think “hurting” when combined with his lower production and the sense that there’ve been lots of hits like that before and no one’s jumped in THAT fast.

    On the other hand Bergeron has really started to show some energy and the touch and playmaking he had before the concussions, so that’s a plus. There’s my second choice for the Masterton, Sullivan being my first.

    You are so right about Kovalev — look in the dictionary under enigma and there he is. If he plays like he can, he can make this series a pick’em.

    I think Recchi’s the X-factor. His maturity and experience combined with that PP savvy equals the Bruin balance-tipper in the series. Also if Lucic brings it like he can, the Habs have no answer for him.

    Schneider can make up (almost, perhaps) for the loss of Markov on the PP, but no one they have can anchor the D in their own end like Markov. Big factor.

    Overall on D, though, it’s Boston all the way. Chara’s a horse who scores big ones on the PP. Wideman’s quietly become a threat on the PP and a force in his own end. Hunwick and Montador can play effectively up front, too.

    And Savard and Kessel and Ryder and Wheeler…

    As for Thomas: he’s an inspiration to his team and seems to rise to the occasion as required, but Price has the pure ability of a Roy.
    If he gets his swagger back (and we saw some of it before his team let him down yet again on Saturday night vs. Pittsburgh), look out. Big IF, I know, but I never count out an 8th seed with weapons like the Habs have.

    For what it’s worth I like Rask over Fernandez, but unless Manny’s wonky back slips out, we won’t even see Tuukka on the bench. If he was there, though, I’d like the Bruins chances even better.

    BUT — all that having been said: those Habs give me a hinky feeling — I never count them out.

    SO: (deep breath) Bruins in five (maybe four if they start to roll), but if it goes seven: Habs.