You have to wonder if the Penguins decision to sit Sidney Crosby yesterday could come back to haunt them.
It may or may not have mattered in the games end result, but those could be two precious points lost should the Canadiens and Penguins meet three rounds from now.
But that is getting way ahead of things!
First, there are Bruins on the menu, and before you start thinking "sweep", it might be smart to never underestimate a wily underdog, a description which fits Boston perfectly.
The 10 point separation between the Canadiens and Bruins in the standings has everything do with the Habs sweeping the season series. Beyond the difficulties Boston had with Montreal, the Bruins handled the rest of the competition better than the Canadiens.
The Bruins record against teams other than Montreal is 41-22-11 for 93 points. The Canadiens record against those same teams is 39-25-10, good for 88 points.
Obviously the Bruins are doing many things right, just not enough of them against the Canadiens.
Teams learn to win by studying how they lose. The Bruins have a textbook on what they've done wrong against Montreal, and they will be studying it cover to cover. They are bound to find something that makes this series last longer than many believe it will.
Still, I would be surprised if the Habs didn't come out victorious, but I would be equally surprised if the series lasted less than 6 games.
I'd like to point out 3 links from today's group as "must reads", in my opinion.
The first one is the Globe Sports almost admission that the Habs are Canada's team heading into the playoffs.
This from a Toronto based media outlet - it has to be a first!
Theory Of Ice has a great piece that translates what the Habs have accomplished this season, putting it all in a "Life Lessons" perspective. Intellectual stuff from my friend E!
J.T. at The H Does Not Stand For Habs looks at 10 pivotal points in the Habs season and how the team grew with each one.
The NHL awards will not be handed out until June, but these 2 TSN clips have three Habs in the running.
Habs Represent Canada's Best Hope - Globe Sports
"The Montreal Canadiens not only claimed the NHL's Eastern Conference regular-season title, they carry the weight of Canada's best hope into the Stanley Cup playoffs." - Tim Wharnsby
Flower Hasn't Lost His Poise - Gazette
"In his 13 full seasons with the Canadiens, Guy Lafleur did not once walk through a Montreal summer and hear the question, "Why didn't you make the playoffs?" Because he made the playoffs 13 consecutive years. "No, I heard: 'Why didn't you win the Stanley Cup?' " the Flower said yesterday, laughing." - Dave Stubbs
Kovalev Is Prince Of The City - Gazette
"Right now, Kovalev is the Prince of the City, complete with the rugged good looks and the flowing blond locks. The Artist. The man who strapped this Canadiens team onto his muscular Russian back and carried it not simply into the playoffs but to the top of the Eastern Conference heap." - Jack Todd
Now The Fun Starts - Gazette
"We really haven't achieved anything yet," Price said after backstopping the Canadiens to a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. "They don't hang conference titles in this building. Our goal is still to win the Stanley Cup." - Pat Hickey
A Love Affair We All Hope Lasts Until June - Gazette
"The noise started with 90 seconds remaining in this final game of the regular season. Everyone: men and women ... boys and girls ... all on their feet applauding this 104-point team. It grew louder and louder as the seconds of this remarkable season wound down, interrupted only by a silly fight that doesn't deserve a mention, with 1.9 seconds remaining. Then, there were the Canadiens players gathering at centre ice, sticks raised in a salute to the fans, the other side of this love affair both sides are hoping will last into June." - Red Fisher
Teams Set For Cup Run - TSN
"Over the years the two clubs have met in 30 post season series. Montreal holds clear historic advantage with a record of 23-7 in playoff series (a record of 95-57)."
Bruins Look To Slay The Dragon - Boston.com
"Chiarelli on first-year netminder Carey Price: "We have to get him moving and get the puck high. He's very big. He's a pads-down, blocker-down goalie. We have to get pucks high, get him moving, and keep pucks away from him on dump-ins and hard-arounds. He's going to have pressure. He's young and it's his first NHL playoff series. We have to get in his head in a variety of ways."
Life Lessons - Theory Of Ice
"That is the real beauty of the 2007-2008 Montreal Canadiens: they’re not just a very good hockey team, they’re an incredible confluence of metaphors. Most of the time, the last thing you’d ever want to suggest is that people emulate hockey behavior in everyday life- taken too literally, ‘punch people who disrespect you’ and ‘just ignore that shooting pain in your spine’ aren’t exactly principles to live by. But these Habs are the exception. A life lived the way they played this season- with tenacity, intensity, joy, and sustained good faith- would be an excellent life." - E
We're Number 1 - The H Does Not Stand For Habs
"The season's over and there are three excruciating days to wait before the playoffs open for the Habs. So, there's no better time to look back at the climb up the mountain and remember our favourite milestones. Here are my top ten games of significance...the games that have made the Habs the team they are today."
Dazed And Confused. And Another Classic Montreal - Boston Playoff Series - Dennis Kane's Excellent Montreal Canadiens Blog
"Thursday, the show begins. Boston’s packing their spare sticks and jockstraps right now, and probably aren’t feeling real good about the propects of taking on our Habs, considering that Montreal has beaten them eleven straight times dating back to last year." - Dennis Kane
Smolinski:"Je me fiche des statistics" - La Presse
"Si je croise un gars dans ce vestiaire qui mentionne que ce devrait être facile parce que nous avons eu leur numéro en saison régulière, je vais le rappeler à l'ordre. Nous avons toutes les raisons au monde d'être satisfaits de notre saison, de la façon dont nous jouons. Nous avons raison d'être confiants, mais nous n'avons pas le droit de penser que cette série est gagnée d'avance."
De Koivu à Kovalev - La Presse
"Même si on ne s'en est pas rendu compte à l'époque, le Canadien a pris son envol quand Carbo a forcé Bob Gainey à expédier Craig Rivet en Californie. Ce jour-là, le changement de la garde dans le vestiaire était entamé. Le pôle d'attraction est passé de Saku Koivu à Kovalev au cours des mois suivants. Le reste de l'équipe a suivi." - Réjean Tremblay
Muller:"La fièvre me paraît encore plus élevée qu'en 1993" - Le Journal
"Les spectateurs sont plus jeunes et plus bruyants", remarque Muller. Je n'ai jamais vu autant de gens venir aux matchs vêtus du chandail bleu-blancrouge. On peut voir aussi beaucoup de véhicules ornés du drapeau aux couleurs de l'équipe. C'est formidable !"
Caractère et attitude gagnante - Le Journal
"C'était une raison parmi tant d'autres qui faisait dire aux connaisseurs (!) et à la grande majorité des amateurs qu'une saison misérable attendait le Tricolore cet hiver. L'équipe avait beau nous montrer le contraire à mesure que la saison avançait, le doute revenait à chaque défaite." - Marc De Foy
L'enthousiasme des jeunes - La Presse
"Les joueurs du Canadien ont, dans l'ensemble, peu d'expérience des séries éliminatoires de la Coupe Stanley. Neuf membres de la présente édition n'ont jamais participé à une rencontre de séries. Les gardiens Carey Price et Jaroslav Halak, le défenseur Ryan O'Byrne ainsi que les attaquants Andrei et Sergei Kostitsyn, Guillaume Latendresse, Tom Kostopoulos, Maxim Lapierre et Mikhail Grabovski en seront à leur première expérience." - François Lemenu
Carbo: "Ils ont compris le message" - La Presse
"Après le mauvais week-end à Buffalo et Toronto, les joueurs se sont regroupés et ils ont déterminé que cette première place était importante", a raconté Guy Carbonneau, bien assis sur son nuage après le match." - Marc Antoine Godin