If there was one matchup the Montreal Canadiens faithful, and the hockey world alike, were looking forward to this season, it was against their most hated rival at the moment, the Boston Bruins. A humiliating postseason exit a few years ago, the infamous Chara hit on Max Pacioretty and the subsequent war last postseason where Montreal was within a goal of eliminating the Bruins. Not to mention the regular season wars over the years. This was the one to look out for.
Unfortunately for Montreal, after taking advantage of the defending Stanley Cup champions’ poor early season form, it was not meant to last. After taking the first two games in a home and home series, the Canadiens could only muster one point in the next four games. Boston finished with a 4-2-0 record against the Canadiens, with Tim Thomas shining in goal.
The series itself was a tight one. All games were virtually one goal games with the exception of a 4-2 victory where Montreal scored an empty net goal. One game went to shootouts, where Tim Thomas turned aside all three shots he faced while Carey Price stopped one of two. Both teams scored 12 goals.
There was excellent goaltending on both ends but Tim Thomas came out on top like he did in the postseason last year, winning four out of five starts while posting a sparkling .952 save percentage and a 1.60 GAA, including one shutout. Carey Price was no slouch despite winning only two of six starts putting up a .930 save percentage and a 2.00 GAA. Thomas ended up being the difference as Montreal outshot the Bruins 192 to 171 over the six games.
In terms of scoring, there was no runaway sniper between the two clubs. For Montreal, Erik Cole and Tomas Plekanec each scored three goals while David Desharnais scored once and added four assists. Max Pacioretty scored one and assisted on another. He didn’t get his first point until the fourth meeting between the two. For Boston, Patrice Bergeron led the way with four points, two goals and two assists, while Andrew Ference, Milan Lucic and ex-Hab Benoit Pouliot all scored a pair each.
While the meetings did get heated, they weren’t anything spectacularly violent. There was no retribution for the Pacioretty incident and games were fairly tame. There were three fighting majors in the series, one apiece in the first two games and one in the final meeting of the season. For those expecting a bloodbath, they didn’t get to see it this past year
Despite 24 points separating the overall second seed Bruins from the cellar dwelling Canadiens, these teams played a very tight season series. Boston took eight points from a Montreal team that was in disarray from beginning to end but Montreal still managed to play well throughout. The Canadiens were only outshot once in the six meetings and it can be argued that they may have deserved a better fate than five points out twelve.
The Canadiens managed to win the only game they scored first in but it’s pretty clear that playing catch up to the Bruins did not fare well. Solving Tim Thomas was the downfall here but just like against the Buffalo Sabres, one can’t help think that a few tweaks could’ve turned that score line around in one or two games.