NHL

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: Biggest Takeaways from Game 1

James OnuskoContributor IIIMay 2, 2014

Montreal Canadiens vs. Boston Bruins: Biggest Takeaways from Game 1

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    With the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins facing off as division rivals, there can be no mistaking that the NHL playoffs are officially under way.

    The Atlantic Division, or the Adams Division battle, if you prefer, is on. These Original Six teams have waged some of the most heated games in what is arguably the NHL's most bitter rivalry.

    Tonight, these talented teams carried that ongoing rivalry into 2013-14's second season as these squads began their 34th playoff meeting.

    In a spirited affair, Montreal dominated the special teams battle. P.K. Subban was the overtime hero with his rocket from the point on the power play in double overtime as Montreal defeated the Bruins 4-3, as reported by TSN

    Let's take a look at the biggest takeaways following this opening game that had a little bit of everything.

The Big Bad Bruins Were out in Full Force

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Big Bad Bruins play an intimidating brand of hockey, and tonight was no different. Milan Lucic, Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk and Shawn Thornton imposed their collective will on the Canadiens.

    Boston punished the Habs whenever it could, although almost all of the hits were clean. The Bruins do not employ a complicated game plan, as it is clear that they want to win the physical battles in order to win on the scoreboard.

    It's just one game, but it will be interesting to see what kind of toll all of this physical play will have on the much smaller Canadiens.

    The Habs have home-ice advantage now, so they have drawn first blood in what should be a long series. So far, so good for the talented Canadiens.

Carey Price Was the Habs' Best Player

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Carey Price was Montreal's best player by a wide margin.

    The Bruins' play improved immensely as the game wore on, and without Price's inspired play, there's no way the game would have gone to overtime.

    Price was poised from the beginning of play, and his calm demeanour seemed to have an effect on the entire team. Even in mad scrambles, Price never seemed to panic despite Boston's frenzied puck pressure.

    The Habs goaltender will have to maintain this inspired play throughout the series if Montreal has any chance of winning.

    If the Bruins continue to dominate on the shot clock, as they did in this first game, this will be no easy task for the Olympic gold medalist.

Boston's Top Line Was Its Best Line

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The top line of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla was exceptional. The line was buzzing all night and dominated the Canadiens on most shifts.

    The trio combined for more than 10 hits, and if it were not for Carey Price's performance, the trio would have combined for multiple points.

    The line is one of the league's best, and the Canadiens are going to have to have a better response on Saturday afternoon for Game 2.

    The Canadiens were victorious in this first game, but the Bruins' top line is only going to get stronger as the series continues.

The Canadiens Refused to Follow the Bruins into the Alley

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    The Canadiens played a very smart game in that they refused to engage in the extracurricular activities that the Bruins desperately want to initiate.

    Agitators like Brad Marchand and Gregory Campbell are always looking for ways to get opponents off their game. Shawn Thornton and Lucic love to drop the mitts and jump-start their team with their punishing play.

    They did not find any takers on this night as the Habs smartly turned away whenever the Bruins tried to engage and intimidate the smaller Montreal players.

    The Canadiens are best to stay out of the alley against the Bruins. They have to rely on their speed and skill against the Beantowners.

Boston Dominated the Corsi Battle

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    The battle for puck possession was no contest.

    While the Canadiens were opportunistic, the major storyline was that the Bruins spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and peppered the Habs.

    The Bruins have the most depth in the NHL. All four Boston lines were firing at Price all night, and Montreal head coach Michel Therrien is going to have to figure out a way to limit the onslaught as the series continues.

    On top of this, the Boston defenders were also firing away with over 15 shots coming from the back end.

    The Bruins finished with nearly 100 shot attempts, and they were well over 60 percent in Corsi on opening night.

     

    All basic stats can be found on nhl.com unless otherwise noted.

    All advanced stats were from extraskater.com.

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