Habs-Bruins: A Classic Matchup

Lisa BoychukSenior Analyst IApril 8, 2008

There is nothing like members of the original six battling it out for a chance to be the ultimate champions and capture the beloved Stanley Cup.  This Eastern Conference quarterfinals between Montreal and Boston will not disappoint.  Most Canadiens fans would agree that even if Boston takes the series it was worth every second.

Most would assume that Montreal should be able to sweep the Bruins or at least make it an 'easy' win.  The Habs maintained the top powerplay of the NHL almost all season long, at one point as high as 32%.  There are plenty of players who aren't afraid to throw a few punches and checks.  This is the first time in many years the Habs claimed top seed in the East.

Carey Price, the rookie goalie, is as calm as humanly possible.  And Alex Kovalev - having a career year, the heart and soul of the team's faith, the best co-captain any club can ask for.  The other veterans, such as Hamrlik, Smolinski, Dandenault, and Brisebois, know what they need to do and will be there to help the younger and inexperienced players.  Saku Koivu and Mike Komisarek are expected to return to play at some point during the finals, both returns that are greatly anticipated.

Though they have set a record for beating Boston eleven straight games, including an 8-0-0-0 record in this 2007-08 season, Montreal has it's flaws.  The penalty kill is either completely successful, or very poor.  During the regular season the Habs ranked mostly nineteenth in the league.

The downside of having many rookies (either nine or eleven of them will play), regardless of how skilled they may be, is they have no playoff experience.  None of them know the different pressures and atmospheres experienced, or the exceeded expectations required, when in the post-season.  There is also tremendous pressure, especially on Carey Price.  The thought in everyone's mind runs back to the 1992-93 season, with Patrick Roy leading the Habs to his first Stanley Cup in his first NHL season.  Will Price be able to keep his calm??

The Bruins are not so perfect, either.  All season long they have had among the worst penalty kill percentage.  Though they are filled with tough gritted players, specifically Zdeno Chara, the Habs, who are smaller and quicker, are able to overpower them.  Remember the two goals Alex Kovalev scored against the Bruins this season.  He made Chara look dazed and confused. Neither Alex Auld nor Tim Thomas have put up big numbers in net. Look for both to fall under the extra pressures.  Boston will also likely have an issue with keeping disciplined, instead giving the Canadiens the opportunity to put their top powerplay to use.

There is no way to tell what will happen in this series.  Both teams have their upsides and downsides.  But we can be assured both will give it their all and make this a quarterfinal worth remembering.