It’s official: the Canadiens will meet Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals after the Bruins beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 Saturday afternoon. With the victory, the Bruins won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarterfinal series in five games.
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.
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.
“Fourth time now since 2008 that we faced them here in the playoffs; first time that it isn’t a first-round matchup,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic told reporters in Boston after the game. ”So another Original Six battle that we get to be a part of, and a lot of hatred between the teams, the fans, the cities when it comes to this kind of rivalry. So we expect them to bring their best. We saw what they were able to do in the first series (against the Lightning), and like I said we’ve got to be prepared to come out and elevate our game as the playoffs move on.”
The Canadiens practised Saturday morning in Brossard and then had a chance to return home to watch the Bruins play the Red Wings in a 3 p.m. start.
Saturday marked the second straight day the Canadiens practised in Brossard following two days off. The lines were the same as they were Friday.
“It’s not so much like training camp, but it is definitely stranger than most playoffs we’ve been through,” defenceman Josh Gorges told reporters in Brossard after practice. “I think it’s a good opportunity for us to get a couple of days off; to get away from the rink. Today, there was really good energy out there. The guys were flying. You get so amped up this time of year to compete and to get out there every day, but it’s a good thing for us to get the additional rest.”
Captain Brian Gionta said that rest is a good thing for the Canadiens.
“Rest is always a good thing,” he told reporters. “You don’t get that much of it throughout the course of the season and you got to take advantage of it. It’s never a bad thing to have.”
Carey Price, who didn’t speak with the media on Friday, spoke Saturday about not being among the three finalists for the Vézina Trophy, which goes to the NHL’s top goaltender. The finalists are Tampa Bay’s Ben Bishop, Boston’s Tuukka Rask and Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov. The 30 NHL general managers vote on the award.
“The three guys that were nominated 100 per cent deserve those accolades,” Price told reporters. “Those three guys really deserve to be there and you can’t take anything away from them.”
Price added: “Every year you play, you try to play your best, but an individual award isn’t going to make or break me.”
When asked if being snubbed for the Vézina would give him extra motivation, Price said: “Water off the duck. I don’t necessarily think that I had a better season than those three guys. I think those three individuals really are deserving of that.”
The Canadiens will practise again at 11 a.m. Sunday in Brossard.
Here’s how the Habs’ lines and defence pairings looked Saturday:
(Gazette file photo)