Stanley Cup Playoff Preview-Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens

We interrupt this Sabres/Flyers coverage to breakdown the rest of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.  Today's installment looks at the matchup that is 3) Bruins vs. 6) Canadiens.  Make sure you vote after the jump on who you think will win this series.

Series

The Habs beat the Bruins four times out of six but were outscored by the Northeastern Division Champs 22-20, including being shutout 7-0 in their last meeting on March 24, 2011.

Schedule 

Thursday, April 14 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.

Saturday, April 16 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.

Monday, April 18 at Montreal, 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, April 21 at Montreal, 7:00 p.m.

*Saturday, April 23 at Boston, 7:00 p.m.

*Tuesday, April 26 at Montreal, TBD

*Wednesday, April 27 at Boston, TBD

*If necessary

Forwards

The Bruins boast serious depth up front with seven different forwards with at least 40 points on the season. Milan Lucic led the team in goals (30) and tied for the team lead in points (62) with David Krejci, who was the leader in helpers (49). Newcomers Nathan Horton (26/27/53), who, like Lucic, has a bit of bite to his game, and wunderkind Tyler Seguin (11/11/22) had solid contributions. Veteran Mark Recchi, scored 17 power play points, skates on the second line with former Sabre Daniel Paille.

Speed, speed, and more speed. That's the Habs best attribute and one they need to use effectively if they have any chance of upsetting Boston. The Canadiens top line of, Rochester native and captain, Brian Gionta (29/17/46), Tomas Plekanec (22/35/57), and Michael Cammalleri(19/28/47) may be this series best line. Aside from those three and Andrei Kostitsyn (20/25/45) and Scott Gomez (7/31/38), the Habs don't have much else. Max Pacioretty (tied for second on the team with 7 power play goals) was just coming on before getting concussed and having his neck broken.

Edge: Bruins. The Habs might have speed on their side, but the Bruins are deeper and nastier, both essential things come playoff time.

Defense

Arguably Boston's best position group, each of the top six Bruins defenseman had 15 points or more. Zdeno Chara captains the "B's" and is their power play quarterback on the blue line. He, too, has loads of vinegar in his game. His defense partner Dennis Seidenberg takes the body just as well-he was second on the team with 161 hits and first with 174 blocked shots. Boston added to their depth by acquiring sniper Tomas Kaberle from the Maple Leafs about a week before the deadline. Adam McQuaid was second on the team with a + 30 rating and 131 blocks.

P.K. Subban (14/24/38) is simply a star in the making. He was third on the team in blocked shots (106) and tied for third in hits (110). He is the Habs best d-man. Hal Gill, the ageless wonder, is huge and he and Roman Hamrlik use their bodies to get in front of the puck (151 and 192 blocked shots respectfully). James Wisniewski contributed 30 points (7/23) from the backend, while former Sabre Jaroslav Spacek was a team best +9.

Edge: Bruins. With both tons of skill and grit, the heart and sole of its team lies on the blue line in Beantown.

Goaltender

Boston's Tim Thomas is the odds-on favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, as he led the league both in save % (.938) and GAA (2.00). Tuukka Rask, last year's starter, is quite the capable backup.

Canadiens netminder Carey Price played in all but ten games this season. His 2.35 GAA ranked sixth and his .923 save % was tied for third among goalies who started 60+ games, incredible given his 1982 total saves-good enough for second behind Carolina's Cam Ward.

Edge: Bruins. Both starters are incredible, but Boston gets the slight nod due to their superior backup and better defense in front of the net.

Prediction

These teams meet up for the 33rd time in the playoffs. There is plenty of bad blood between these two clubs, thanks in large part to Chara's controversial check on Pacioretty during their March 8th contest. The Bruins may be the most complete team in the East top-to-bottom. Price may be able to steal a game, but I expect the bigger Bruins to wear down the Habs and dispatch them pretty quickly. Bruins in five.

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