2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Preview
Eastern Conference -
(6) Montreal Canadiens vs. (3) Boston Bruins
The times and seasons change, but two members of the NHL’s Original Six who have created many postseason memories will duel once again in springtime.
The most famous – or infamous – playoff encounter between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens occurred in 1979, when Boston – leading by a goal late in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semifinals – stood on the cusp of knocking out the Habs in the old and fabled Montreal Forum. Boston, led by head coach Don Cherry, was trying to deny Montreal and coach Scotty Bowman a fourth straight cup, and was just about to do so as Game 7 careened toward the final two minutes of regulation. However, a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty gave the Canadiens a power play and a new shot of life. Montreal promptly scored and then won in overtime to deal the Bruins the greatest stomach-punch they’ve ever suffered. Boston needed nine years after that incident to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, but in both 1988 and 1990, the Edmonton Oilers prevented the Beantowners from taking home the Cup. Montreal has consistently haunted Boston in the playoffs, and an early-round series win by Boston in 2009 didn’t do much to even the scales in this rivalry. The Canadiens will be playing with house money once again in this matchup, while all the expectations and pressures fall on the shoulders of the men from Massachusetts.
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This is yet another chapter in what is arguably the richest rivalry in the sport. The Canadians won four out of the six meetings between the teams this season but Boston had the most recent laugh by beating the Habs, 7-0. The matchup that most people will be looking forward to is when Boston’s Zdeno Chara is out on the ice against the Habs’ top line with Tomas Plekanec. The Canadiens are towards the bottom of the league when it comes to many offensive statistics and metrics, but Plekanec and his line can be very dangerous. Everyone counted the Habs out last year until they knocked out the top-seeded Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins in back-to-back rounds. Moreover, Boston is going to be wrestling with a playoff demon created last year when the Bruins lost a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers. Boston’s epic collapse made the Bruins the third team in NHL history – joining the 1942 Detroit Red Wings (against the Toronto Maple Leafs) and the 1975 Pittsburgh Penguins (against the New York Islanders) to gack away a three-game series lead. In the other team sports, only the New York Yankees of 2004 gave away a 3-0 lead, so the Bruins entered very select company when they lost four in a row to the Flyers one year ago. Now, the journey begins anew for a team that isn’t used to making deep playoff runs.
No pressure, Boston, no pressure at all.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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