The Boston Bruins are coming off of a five game series win over the Detroit Red Wings and now face another Original Six battle with the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal swept away the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first round series.
Like the Red Wings, the Bruins lost three out of four games to Montreal in the regular season. Both Detroit and Montreal are fast teams and provide a potential mismatch for the Bruins. However, as we saw with their first round series win, the Bruins can overcome that.
The Bruins offense relies on physicality and creating space and open lanes along with crashing the net, all of which they did well in the first round. Mila Lucic threw his weight around with authority and made that first line of himself, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla a force to be reckoned with with or without the puck.
The third line, led by Carl Soderberg, also had a strong series with a goal even from Justin Florek while Loui Eriksson also provided some spark. Chris Kelly is expected to return from his back injury by the time this series kicks off at the end of the week, so that could strengthen the line even more. Either way, the real difference for the series is Soderberg, a new dynamic Montreal will have to prepare for.
Like Detroit, Montreal will bring a lot of speed to the table, but unlike them, they are playoff experienced. Even though Detroit was led by veterans their entire roster was very young and untested, while that will not be the case with the Canadiens. The Montreal offense has a new spark in Tomas Vanek, a player who also just happens to be a Bruins-killer with more goals against the Bruins than any other active player.
Sharing a line with Vanek is Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais to make a very quick top line. Tomas Plekanec is currently centering a second line that might see Brandon Prust out in place of Alex Galchenyuk who might make his return this series.
Boston’s defense was smothering for Detroit despite their speed, even without Dennis Seidenberg. Zdeno Chara was just named a Norris finalist and on his other side is Johnny Boychuk who brought the boom the entire Detroit series. Dougie Hamilton broke out in one of his best stretches as a Bruin in the first round, and don’t expect that to change. Once again the depth is a little bit weak on the back end with Matt Bartkowski still recovering from the flu.
The last time these two teams met, Kevan Miller broke out with a physical game and a fight that established himself against Boston’s bitter rival. His physicality will once again be a factor.
For the Canadiens defense, Reggie Emelin is always worth keeping an eye on with his rivalry with Lucic, but Andrei Markov is their best defender and will match up against the top line. PK Subban is a factor as well and not just because of his feud with Brad Marchand. He will always have breakout potential on any given shift.
Tuukka Rask was the best goaltender in the entire first round throughout the NHL. However, he has historically struggled against Montreal. Despite that, he has never faced them in a playoff series which is a completely different animal.
Despite the sweep of Tampa Bay, Price did allow ten goals in those four games and can go on a cold streak at any time. However, he can also go on a ahot streak. Price can be dangerous but the Bruins have never struggled against him, and Rask is an obvious advantage.