After the Bruins’ 3-0 Game 3 victory in Detroit a week ago, Boston fans felt quite comfortable. A series win felt like a formality and most in the Hub were asking things like, “Who’s next?”
“Next” is a team that has served as something close to spoked ‘B’ kryptonite for over a year now. From March 3, 2013 to this week, the Canadiens have won six of seven from the Bruins with their most notable win coming back on March 24 of this year in Boston when they halted the B’s 12-game winning streak.
For half glass full Bruins fans, the Bruins had actually owned a five-game winning streak against the Canadiens prior to their recent slump against their arch-rivals.
“We were mediocre against them during the year and they’re a team that has given us trouble historically, so it will be a challenge,” Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli told NESN. “Much is said about their size and their speed and allegedly, that’s what gives us problems. I think that’s part of it … I think it’s just sometimes, you just don’t have success against (a certain team) sometimes. They have some speedy forwards, they made themselves better with (Thomas) Vanek, that line has had some success with Max Pacioretty and (David) Desharnais. Their goalie (Carey Price) is good, very good. So it’ll be a real interesting series, I think. Despite the common belief that speed kills, I think we’ve shown that we have some speed and we have some size and we have experience, so it will be a challenge, but I think we’ll overcome that challenge.”
Montreal had recently been getting in the habit of resting Price, who had a save percentage of .904 in the Habs’ first round sweep of the Lightning, against the Bruins in favor of backup Peter Budaj. Budaj may one day want to take up residence on Causeway Street as he is 5-0 with a .960 save percentage at TD Garden against the Bruins.
But given the stakes, the Canadiens will likely rely mostly on Price. Budaj hasn’t played since April 9, the day he became something of a day-long internet punchline when he knocked a game-winner into his own net in a loss to the Blackhawks.
Price and the Bruins met just once this season, a 2-1 Canadiens victory at Bell Centre on Dec. 5, 2013 in which the Sochi Olympics gold medalist saved 32 of the 33 shots he saw.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter: @BurkeMetroBOS