Five Keys to the Game: Habs-Bruins #2
Instant Chemistry: Sometimes when a coach rearranges his lines, he just has a magic touch. That’s been the case for Michel Therrien since the playoffs kicked off with the explosive play of the recently-formed line of Rene Bourque, Lars Eller and Brian Gionta. At least one member of the trio has been involved in just under half of the team’s goals in the postseason to date – nine of 20 – racking up a combined 15 points in five games. Among those nine goals, at least two of the three have been on the scoresheet together on six occasions, helping all three of them find themselves among the team’s Top 5 scoring leaders. Based on those numbers, it’s no surprise to see Therrien call on the threesome with increasing frequency, giving them 69 minutes and 44 seconds in ice time – including 69:21 at even strength – to lead all Habs forwards in that category. Look for their workload to continue rising in direct correlation with their point production going forward.
Circa 1993: If the Bruins don’t exactly welcome P.K. Subban to the Garden with open arms for Game 2 , they could be forgiven. After scoring the opening goal of the night to silence the previously-raucous crowd in Boston, the Bruins’ fan favorite was at it again in double overtime, ending Game 1 with a blast 24 minutes and 17 seconds after regulation time had expired. With that shot, Subban became the first Habs defenseman since Eric Desjardins in 1993 to score at least two goals in a playoff game. On June 3, 1993, in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Kings where the infamous McSorley illegal curve incident took place, Desjardins notched a hat trick, including the overtime winner. We all remember how that story ended, right?
Tit for Tat: The Canadiens may not enjoy the tough guy reputation the Big, Bad Bruins have been riding for years, but when they’re facing off against their oldest rivals, the Habs have no problem throwing their weight around. After five games in 2013-14, including Thursday’s marathon double-OT extravaganza, the Canadiens have dished out 148 hits compared to the 172 the Bruins have served up. That averages to just five more hits per game for Claude Julien’s troops – hardly the lopsided hit parade one might have expected.
Setting the Tone: No two teams in professional sports have faced off in the postseason as often as the Canadiens and Bruins. Having met in the playoffs 33 times prior to this year, the longtime rivalry boasts a few important trends, not the least of which is the fact that the team that’s won Game 1 has gone on to win the series 27 times. Draw conclusions from that as you will…
What Fatigue?: One of the greatest things about playoff hockey is endless overtime periods, leaving fans on the edge of their seats until one team finally scores. It can take a while to determine a winner, as the Habs and Bruins saw in Game 1, but winning in extra time often leads to bigger and better things for Montreal. The Canadiens have won 13 games that have gone to double-OT or beyond in franchise history, in addition to recording one tie in such circumstances in 1930 against Chicago. The Habs ended up winning 10 of those 14 series. The record becomes even more impressive against Boston in particular, with Montreal boasting a 4-1 record in series where double overtime was needed at some point. Staying up extra late appears to have its advantages – but Montrealers have always known that.