Chiarelli: Bruins/Canadiens rivalry is “electric”
|04.13.09 at 11:57 am ET|
In a conference call with reporters this morning, Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli said he expects an “electric” first round Stanley Cup playoff series between the B’s and the Montreal Canadiens after the Red Sox/Yankees-type games that have taken place between the two Original Six franchises over the last two years. The Bruins GM also referenced last season’s playoffs, when the roles were reversed and the ragtag Bruins took the top-seeded Canadiens to seven games before falling in the first round of a memorable series. The records and station in the Eastern Conference standings might be different this season, but that gets tossed out when the on-ice hate and stirring passion of the Bruins and Habs rivalry bubbles to the surface.
“I think our guys are really excited to get the (playoffs) going. You saw the emotion and you saw the passion — and maybe even overrun in the second period a little bit by us — against Montreal (last Thursday). I think they’ll be very motivated to play the Canadiens,” said Chiarelli. “The Canadiens are a very good team. A very skilled team. They will also be motivated the same way we were motivated to play them in opposite spots in the standings last year.
“We look forward to the playoffs. I really think we learned a lot on two fronts: last year what it takes to get there and what it takes to play in an intense series and this year having occupied top spot for a large part of the season. It’s a different dynamic playing against all these teams with the games being ‘statement games’ so to speak for the other teams. I think our guys learned to play under different circumstances this year and I think that will translate for the playoffs.”
–The B’s GM said the team learned a valuable lesson in the third period and overtime of Thursday night’s game against the Habs when they curbed their flaring tempers and stayed out of the box long enough to win the game by a 5-4 score in OT. The Habs players — led by new McFilthy and McNasty HOF member Mike Komisarek — will try to goad and annoy the B’s into penalties during a series sure to be chock full of high emotion, but it’s imperative that the Black and Gold stay out of the penalty box to sustain success and ultimate victory.
“In in the third period we held our emotions in check and still played a physical game, and that’s exactly what we have to do,” said Chiarelli. “There will be an element of managing that stuff and I’ll leave it up to Claude. Of course the Montreal power play — while it wasn’t as good this season as it was last year — is a good power play. I think it’s a function of staying out of the box and managing our emotions.
“There were a lot of different types of games throughout this season when we played the (Canadiens). You just have to look to last year when they beat us during the season and it was a close (playoff) series, and I think the same is going to apply this year. I think there’s an element of a little bit more confidence that we have (now) than we did last year. (The Canadiens) certainly came in very highly touted and they hit their bumps along the way, but they performed well at the end to secure a playoff spot.”
–Chiarelli wouldn’t bite on a question about how far this Bruins team has to advance in the playoffs to meet expectations following one of the best regular seasons in franchise history.
“I don’t think at all that this year was hope,” said Chiarelli. “It was always about expectations. But now the degree of expectations have been heightened significantly. I can’t give you the number of rounds. History shows that we haven’t much success in getting past Round One in a long time, so what I can say is let’s get past Game One first and I can give you a more clear answer.
“I’ve preached to the players and Clause has preached to the players about not looking ahead, so I’m not going to do that right now.”
–There was no update on the health and well-being of defenseman Andrew Ference and center Patrice Bergeron entering the first round matchup against the Canadiens. Chiarelli indicated there won’t be anything new regarding either player until Thursday’s game day.
“Not any clearer today,” said Chiarelli. “We’ll probably have more news on them as Thursday approaches, but they’re both being treated today and I can’t tell you anything more than that.”