As inevitable as the disappearance of snowbanks in Montreal, the Canadiens facing the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It will be the 34th time in NHL history and the fourth time in the last six years that this bitterest of sports rivalries is being renewed.
We won’t get an official NHL announcement from the league until after all of the first round series are concluded by April 30th but I think we can count on the Canadiens opening the series at TD Garden in Boston next weekend, perhaps as early as next Friday.
For the record, it’s the first Montreal/Boston meeting since the 2011 conference quarterfinals in which the Bruins fell behind 0-2 at home before coming back to win on Nathan Horton’s overtime goal in the seventh game.
Dating back to the second meeting of last season, the Canadiens have beaten the Bruins six of the last seven games. Two of the Canadiens wins were decided in shootouts. The only Bruins victory in the series was a 4-1 win March 12th at the Bell Centre. In the final meeting of the season the Canadiens won 2-1 on a shootout goal by Alex Galchenyuk. Peter Budaj was in goal for three of this season’s four games including the loss.
The last six playoff meetings between the teams were in the playoffs first round. The last time they met outside of the opening round was the ’92 Adams Division final. Boston swept that series. Overall the Canadiens have a 32-8 record but the Bruins, with their best team in decades, have won the last two series in 2009 and 2011.
Statistics, statistics. There will be plenty of them over the next week along with the usual so-called expert equally meaningless predictions. After that, it will be the players and only the players who will decide the issue.