After a magical regular season, the top-seeded Boston Bruins gear up for the first round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs.
And for the 32nd time in 85 years, the Montreal Canadiens will try to end Boston's season.
In the past, the Bleu Blanc et Rouge have dominated the Bruins in postseason play, holding a 24-7 record coming into this series.
However, the Black and Gold's effort against the Canadiens in the 2008-2009 campaign have the momentous pendulum of power swinging in their favor as we count down to Game One.
In six games against the Habs this season, Boston went 5-0-1, picking up 11 of a possible 12 points, with a combined score of 23-13.
Boston vs. Montreal. No. 1 v. No. 8. Sound familiar? Here we go again.
Boston's Key to Success: Want It
Apr. 21, 2008 marked the end of the Boston Bruins season, in a blowout against Montreal in the first round. But it wasn't in a game four or five.
It took seven games for the first-place Canadiens to defeat the lowly Bruins, a team they had swept in the regular season.
That riveting series provided the spark that pushed Boston into overdrive. Inspired and motivated, Boston will look to gain revenge. Not just last year's loss, but for the countless heartbreaks Boston has suffered at the hands of Montreal.
The last time Boston clinched first place in the Eastern Conference was 2001. Montreal was (once again) the opponent, and it only took six games to muzzle the Bruins.
The key for Boston is to live by their team's battle cry, "We want it as bad as you."
After last Thursday's second-period slug fest between the two clubs, tensions will be high. The Bruins must play smart and act appropriately.
That means keeping emotions in check, something sophomore winger Milan Lucic admitted he neglected to do before almost decapitating enemy Mike Komisarek.
"Looking back, maybe I shouldn’t have went to that extreme," the 20-year-old resident bruiser quipped. "Maybe I lost my temper a little bit. But it’s part of the game and it happens.”
But it can't happen come playoff time.
Lucic's 14 minutes of penalties on that one move cost the Bruins the lead and almost the game. Montreal's power-play unit scored twice on Thursday, and will continue to be a threat come playoff time.
The action will be intense, emotions will be high, but Boston must keep control of the situation. If they can control the intensity and allow for Montreal to commit lazy penalties, even more momentum will swing their way.
Highs and Lows
Dissecting the Boston-Montreal battles from the regular season for the Black and Gold faithful.
-The wins: Boston dominated Montreal all season.
-The intensity: Even after wrapping up the conference, Boston fought for every inch of ice in the 5-4 victory on Thursday night.
-The physicality: Lucic v. Komisarek, Thornton v. Henry, Thornton v. Laraque, Lucic v. Laraque (war of words). Expect more come Thursday night.
-Lack of discipline: Yes, this is a rivalry. But don't drop the gloves over just anything, allow the small cheap shots, take the power play. But do not let Montreal gain the physical edge.
-Montreal's invasion of the Garden: With playoff tickets for Games One and Two on sale before Montreal knew if they would even be in, the Bruins' faithful should pack the place. There has been too much red in the building in the last few meetings.
-History: It means nothing now. But it sure hurt then.
Looking Back, Pushing Forward
Round 32 of Boston v. Montreal. Who could ask for more entertaining hockey? Boston looks to advance past the first round for the first time in a decade. Montreal looks to be the spoiler (yet again).
Old Time Hockey.
Montreal's banged up core will be no match for Boston's depth.
Prediction: Bruins in five.