NHL Playoff Preview: No. 8 Montreal Canadiens vs. No. 1 Boston Bruins

Ben LivingstonCorrespondent IApril 12, 2009

MONTREAL - JANUARY 24:  Eastern Conference All-Star Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins makes a pad save on Alex Kovalev of the Montreal Canadiens during the 'Gatorade NHL Elimination Shoot Out' during the Honda NHL Superskills competition as part of the 2009 NHL All-Star weekend on January 24, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

No. 8 Montreal Canadiens (41-30-11)  vs. No. 1 Boston Bruins (53-19-10)

Season Series: Boston won, 5-1 


Oh, how the tables have turned in this rivalry! After the Canadiens swept the season series between the teams last year, the Bruins won five out of the teams’ six meetings this year.

The Canadiens were the first seed in 2008, and the Bruins the eighth, but the Bruins have taken the first seed in 2009, and the Canadiens the eighth.

Carey Price went from amazing last year to below-average this year in net for the Habs, while Tim Thomas went from slighty above-average last year to amazing this year.

With the tables completely turned, can we expect come playoff time? Last year’s series saw the Canadiens winning a thrilling seven-game series, culminating in a 5-0 blowout in Game Seven.

This year, expect the Bruins to be looking for revenge, and expect them to get it. Everything about this matchup has flipped from last year, and even if you don’t believe in catchy storylines, you’d be crazy to believe that the free-falling Canadiens are going to be able to stop one of the most consistent, balanced teams in the NHL.

The Canadiens are a carbon copy of the 2007-08 Senators, another top contender who, like the Canadiens, started falling apart mid-season, and barely hung on to a playoff spot thanks to a second-half coaching change.

The Senators got swept in the first round, and the Canadiens probably won’t do much better. They’re also quite similar to their team last year, in that no matter how well the rest of the team plays, you can leave it to Carey Price to ruin their chances at winning.

Price single-handedly destroyed the Canadiens hopes at a trip to the Cup Finals when he imploded during their series with the Flyers, allowing many soft goals, especially in Game 5 of the series.

The Canadiens had a 3-1 lead and were poised to force a sixth game before the Flyers put up three goals in three minutes in the second period, en route to an eventual 6-4 Flyers’ win.

Price has been extremely inconsistent this year, leaving those fantasy owners who traded for him (such as yours truly) and Canadiens fans alike to scratch their heads and wonder if this kid is really the real deal.

There’s simply no way that the Canadiens will make a run at the Cup this year, and while Price could potentially get hot in this series, there are simply too many other factors working against the Canadiens to warrant picking them in this one. If they’re lucky, maybe they’ll win a game or two, but in all likelihood this one will end in a sweep.

        Bruins in 4

          Check out these other NHL Playoff Previews from Ben Livingston, and keep an eye on Bleacher Report for more in the days to come:

        Flames vs. Blackhawks: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/155061