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With four losses in the past five games and a meagre 5 goals scored over that span, doubt about the Canadiens playoff spot has begun to seep into fans’ minds. But, with a still relatively healthy 5 point lead over 9th place, it seems reasonably safe to continue our look towards the post-season. Last week, we asked you what matchup you wanted to see in the first round. In this week’s Around the Boards, we profile a selection of your responses and, as usual, I will add my two-cents at the end.
Unsurprisingly, considering both the intense rivalry between the squads and this season’s events, many favoured the Bruins as the Canadiens opening round adversary.
BrenDittero: We all know that Montreal can beat Boston. We've had Tim Thomas' number all year, save for one game where both sides seemed able to score at will and goon tactics became a deciding factor. As a fan, I feel the need to watch the Habs go toe to toe with the Bruins in round one and knock them out of the playoffs
Kiwihab: Has to be Boston. - Its destiny. - They are Darth Vader to our Luke Skywalker. We have ewoks in Cammalleri, Gionta and Gomez. - Hall Gill skates kind of like I imagine CP30 would, and Carey Price has the force. - As for Boston, I don't think Chara or Lucic would look out of place as extra's in the bar scene.
However, according to our poll, an equal amount wish to see Pittsburgh face-off against Montreal. Decidedly, the injuries to Malkin and Crosby factored into that thought process
BTH:I don't see how they can beat us. If Montreal (or anybody else) traps against them, they don't have the firepower to score goals.
Others were daring, setting their sights on the Conference-leading Flyers. Another few went off the board and deemed Tampa Bay as the ideal opponent, although at this point it is doubtful that clash will occur in the opening round.
SOOPAVILLAIN:Philly [...] our best chance at beating them would be in the first round, Philly is a Juggernaut when it gets momentum.
dlbalr:Allow me to go off the board and suggest in a perfect world, Tampa Bay in the 4/5 matchup with Pittsburgh sliding to 6th. The Habs match up relatively well against the Bolts; they're not an overly physical team, Roloson (much to the chagrin of my pool team) is starting to falter, and their defence remains iffy at times
As for your humble correspondent, part of me craves the intense rivalry of a Boston-Montreal matchup, but the pragmatist inside says that Pittsburgh is the most favourable match-up for Les Glorieux. Thinking of last year’s playoffs or earlier this season (think of Gomez’s tally very early in the year), it is evident Marc-André Fleury has a tendency to allow deflating goals versus his hometown team. In his career, the Sorel native has pedestrian numbers versus Montreal, posting a .884 save percentage and 3.45 goals against average. Adding to that apparent advantage is the fact that noted agitator Matt Cooke and Evgeni Malkin are certain to be absent while Sidney Crosby’s presence and overall health are questionable. In the end, this matchup not only seems advantageous on paper, but it would also go a long way towards cementing the growing rivalry between the two teams.
That’s it for this edition of ATB. Until next week, see you on the boards.
Louis Moustakas can be reached for comments, questions, cross-checks and, of course, fan-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- ATB: What first round matchup do you want to see?