The Canadiens practised Sunday morning in Brossard, a day after learning they will meet the Boston Bruins in a best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The NHL has yet to announce the schedule for that series, which isn’t expected to start before Thursday at the earliest.
The only player who didn’t take part in Sunday’s practice was Alex Galchenyuk, who hasn’t skated since suffering a lower-body injury (knee) on April 9 in Chicago.
Coach Michel Therrien made one change to his lines Sunday, putting Travis Moen on the fourth line with Daniel Briere and Dale Weise, while Michael Bournival dropped to the fifth line. Moen has recovered from a concussion suffered in a fight with Boston’s Kevan Miller on March 24.
The Canadiens and Bruins met four times during the regular season with Montreal winning three times. In their last meeting on March 24 in Boston, the Canadiens won 2-1 in a shootout, ending the Bruins’ 12-game winning streak.
When asked by reporters in Brossard Sunday why the Canadiens have had so much success against the Bruins, defenceman Josh Gorges said: “I’m not 100 per cent certain. And the only other thing that I’ll say with that is that’s the regular season. The playoffs is a completely different game. You look at what this team, the Boston Bruins, has done in the last few years in the playoffs has been as good or better than any other team in the league. So we know we got a great challenge ahead of us. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be a long series and we got to be prepared for that.”
This marks the 34th time the Canadiens and Bruins will meet in NHL playoff history, with the Canadiens winning 24 of the previous 33 series and 102 of 170 postseason games between the teams.
“It’s just fun every time we play them,” Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher told reporters in Brossard Sunday. “There’s that intensity, that rivalry, but there’s also the respect between the two teams. Two very good hockey teams that play hard, that are deep, you can throw anyone on the ice at any given time and they’re expected to do the job. So every time we play them, it just makes for a fun atmosphere to be a part of and as a player that’s what you want.”
After knocking off the Detroit Red Wings Saturday, Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron was asked by reporters in Boston about facing the Habs in the next round.
“(The Habs) are a great team,” Bergeron said. “They’re definitely playing some great hockey right now. They played well against Tampa. It’s going to be a good challenge again for us. There’s lots of history behind both teams so it’s going to be fun to be part of it. … We know what they got, they know what we got, so it’s always a huge battle against them. We’re expecting a tough and long series.”
Added Bruins teammate Shawn Thornton: “It’s a good rivalry. We’ve played them a lot in my seven years here, so my initial feeling is, ‘Embrace it.’ It’s good – both cities really get into it, both teams get into it, so I’m going to enjoy it.”
He won’t be alone.
Here’s how the Canadiens’ lines and defence pairings looked at practice Sunday:
(Photo by Allen McInnis/The Gazette)