You know the storyline: Bruins want revenge for the pain we caused them last year. That’s something for Boston fans and the media to keep talking about. For us, it’s about doing business and moving along.
Giroux, Briere, Richards vs Krejci, Bergeron, Peverly – The edge goes slightly to the Flyers, and if Jeff Carter comes back that swings things even more in our favor. However, it’s pretty damn close in all aspects. All of the centers can generate offense, win timely draws, and backcheck. Last year Boston lost Krejci in the third game, and it came back to bite them. With him there, maybe we wouldn’t have come back. Overall, it’s pretty close at this position, so even though we have a slight edge, it guarantees nothing.
Tim Thomas vs Brian Boucher/Sergei Bobrovsky/Winner of fan contest – Hands down this goes to Thomas. He’s old, but he’s sharp, smart, and just stops the damn puck. He might not have as brilliant of a career as Ryan Miller, but he’s better this year, and especially right now. Still, Montreal found a few ways to beat him, so there are chinks in the armor. He’s a small guy, only 5’11″, so we have to get traffic in front. Crash the net hard, make it hard on him. A bit of east-west passing to get him out of position could work too. Check out the goal he gave up to Subban in Game 7 that knotted the game at 3. He was moving and covered the low part of the net, like most goalies, and got beat high.
After Chara, their D thins out a bit. They are all pretty decent defenders, but aren’t really known for moving the puck the other way. Kaberle is slightly overrated, but he can be a bit dangerous. The key is to hit them at every opportunity. Chara is used to using his size as an advantage to hit people, so when he gets run into a few times, it throws him off his game. By the end of the series last year, he was practically going into the fetal position every time he went into the corner to retrieve the puck. Since he’s usually out against the top players, that job falls to Hartnell, Giroux, Richards and Carcillo (if he’s on Richie’s line). In our own end, we have to keep shot totals low. Boucher is good, but we know we can’t let them pepper him. They had a ton of issues with going offsides against Montreal, so we have to hold the blueline. We can’t let them into our zone easily.
- They have a PP that didn’t score in the first round, we have a PK that didn’t do so hot but came up big in the last few games.
- Peter Laviolette vs Claude Julien – Lavy is more dynamic, but the other guy knows what he’s doing. Slight edge for us here.
- Neither team is particularly big on the front end, so both defenses should use their size as much as possible.
- The healthier Pronger gets, the better for our overall game. And conversely, the harder it gets for them to do anything in our zone.
- Lucic and Krejci haven’t scored a playoff goal yet. We gotta keep them off the board as much as possible, because Boston’s secondary guys were enough to get past Montreal, but it won’t be enough to beat us.
- JVR is finally turning into a bit of a powerhouse. If Chara is focused on other players, this could be something we exploit.
At the start of the playoffs I expected Boston to be more dominant. Yet, they had a ton of trouble on offense. Part of it was Carey Price, but part of it was their own ineptitude. They’re going to play physical; it won’t be an easy series. As much as they hate us, they hate Montreal more. They’re coming off an emotional series that took them to the max. They’ll have one less day of rest than us. And as much as they want revenge, they’ll have to be smart about it and stay composed. Maybe trying to get the emotion out of it works against them a bit. On paper, we’re a much better overall team. Still, they are tough to crack, and they won’t cough up leads like the Sabres did. Overall, I think they’re on a downward trend compared to the last few seasons, and I’ll take Flyers in 6.
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Topics: Boston Bruins, Brian Boucher, Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price, Claude Giroux, Claude Julien, Dan Carcillo, Danny Briere, David Krejci, Eastern Conference Semifinals, Jeff Carter, JVR, Mike Richards, Milan Lucic, Montreal Canadiens, Patrice Bergeron, Peter Laviolette, Philadelphia Flyers, PK Subban, Rich Peverly, Ryan Miller, Scott Hartnell, Sergei Bobrovsky, Tim Thomas, Tomas Kaberle, Zdeno Chara